Greece Day 9: A Mini Guide to the Acropolis of Athens

Or how you separate the faceless stones from the masterpieces, as you would with wheat and chaff.

If you can only visit one place in Athens, there’s no doubt that Acropolis ranks up there on the list. Acropolis is one of the world’s most prominent ruin sites (only the historic center of Rome could compete in popularity). But a visit to ruins can get tedious real fast, if everything you see are boulders after boulders after boulders.

This mini-guide will help you to navigate through the “for archaeologists only” stones and jump straight to the more interesting sights of Acropolis.

Map of Acropolis, Athens, Greece[Image Credit: Madmedea]

One of the first things you notice when you first enter the archaeological site is the Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus (18). Back in the days, this theater could seat 17,000 spectators, though from whatever that remains, it looks like it could seat perhaps a few hundreds only.

Theatre of Dionysus, Athens, Greece
While the Theatre of Dionysus is a relatively interesting site, snap your requisite selfie and quickly make your way to the much superior Odeon of Herodes Atticus (15) at the southwest slope of the Acropolis. The theatre so brilliantly contrasts with Athens’ cityscape, and I like the grit that comes with the age of the structure, while still retaining most of its shapes. Easily one of my most favorite theater ruins after the famous Colosseum.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Athens, Greece

It was used as a venue for music concerts with a capacity of 5,000. Even modern artists such as Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, Nana Mouskouri, Elton John, Andrea Bocelli, Liza Minnelli, Jethro Tull, etc have performed here before.

Next, you’ll squeeze through the crowd and make your way up the steps. But in the meantime, don’t forget to look up to admire the Temple of Athena Nike (6). It was the first temple on the Acropolis to be built in the Ionic style, and it’s also one of the few which still retains most of its character. As its name suggests, it was a place of worship for Nike, the deity associated with wars. And before you ask, yes, it’s the one that famous shoe brand is named after!

Temple of Athena Nike, Athens, Greece
Continue your way up as you pass through Propylaea (5), the ancient gateway to the flourishing civilization of Acropolis. This tall mass of rock was built strategically as such to protect the city at its most vulnerable access point.

Propylaea, Athens, Greece
Once you’ve successfully crossed the gate, congratulations, you’re officially in Acropolis!

Without a doubt, Parthenon (1) is attraction numero uno. Even with the scaffolding renovation, the site is magnificent in size. Look at all those people and imagine how massive the temple really is!

Parthenon, Athens, Greece

“It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered the zenith of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian democracy and western civilization, and one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments,” if you ask Wikipedia.

If you ask me, though, my personal favorite site is Erectheion (3), located just beside Parthenon and built in dedication to the two principal gods of Attica: Athena and Poseidon-Erechtheus. Right by the side of Erectheion are six draped female figures (caryatids) forming the Porch of the Caryatids.

Porch of Caryatids, Erectheion, Acropolis, Athens, Greece

It’s so intricately done and gorgeous. Ruins aside, the fact that Acropolis is situated up a hill right at the heart of Athens means that you can look around to admire the skyline surrounding it.

Athens skyline as seen from Acropolis, Greece

Click “Athens Skyline, a Reversed Perspective” for more gorgeousness of the cityscape as seen from Acropolis.

From marbles to bricks, just marvel at how much the civilization has grown. Acropolis may have been a shadow of its past as the cradle of Western civilization, but as you look all around you, it makes you appreciate just how much the past and the present is connected… and how far the humanity has come.

What are your favorite attractions in Acropolis?

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