If you choose to visit the ancient citadel, the Acropolis, it will take over an hour, maybe more if it is busy. It is quite a climb and there is a lot of uneven ground. Essentials are a hat to protect your head from the sun, water, and shoes for the job. Not essential is a bag for the pick-pockets to empty. This film takes you inside and shows the view from the hill opposite, you might like to do both. We went back to Athens in 2018, having been there in 2006 we decided not to go inside the acropolis again, we figured they wouldn’t have changed the wallpaper. So, this is the old footage from 2006 with Jean and her friends Maud, Sue, Bruce and Rex. Spot the difference!
The Acropolis is a collection of buildings, all of huge interest and they are best seen with an informative guide. The most famous is the Parthenon, which stands tall with huge pillars. First there is a myth in history that the Romans invented pillars and arches. Both were in use by the Egyptians hundreds of years earlier, but history is getting re-written a lot with modern science. The pillars are in sections, normally about 4 feet high. They would have been laid out in the required pattern to the building’s blue print, and then everywhere around them filled with mud bricks. Then with the ground now level with the top of the column sections, the next sections were brought in. Then the mud, and again and again. The mud goes as high as the roof so the workers are always working at ground level or mud level. Then when the building is finished the mud is removed and washed away leaving a building. They can thank Ramesses the Great, the third Pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty of Egypt for that. Mud for scaffolding. So the acropolis was built using Egyptian engineering methods.
The Parthenon was a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, Jean tells the story of Athena on the front of our walking guide of Athens which we filmed while there this time. Construction of the Parthenon began in 447 BC, to replace the previous one destroyed during the Persian invasion in 480BC. The building took about ten years, the decoration continued until 432 BC. In the 6th century, it was converted to a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. For this, the building was altered and renovations inevitably led to the removal and destruction of sculptures. Then after the Ottoman conquest in the early 1460s, it became a mosque. It appeared the Knights Templars gave this a wide birth, but a Scottish nobleman named Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin removed some surviving sculptures from the Parthenon and other buildings between 1800 and 1803. These are known as the Elgin Marbles and there is a dispute over them being returned to Greece that will no doubt run until they are returned. The ones destroyed during the change to Christianity are lost forever. Layers of history, bloodshed at regular page turns.
Still standing and seen in the film is the Erechtheion or Erechtheum another ancient Greek temple dedicated to Athena and Poseidon. It will be seen on the same tour and is on the north side of the Acropolis. Our guide tells us of the women depicted in the statues who dieted and trained to stay slim. I am not sure all stories are accurate, ever, whoever tells them. Legend has it that it may have been built in honour of King Erechtheus, who is said to have been buried nearby. This temple would be a replacement for the original being destroyed again in the Persian invasion in 480BC.
It is a wonderful place, made totally by the stories. Now with so much great TV at home, there are shows on Sky Arts and BBC4 that cover this. They are worth watching before you go, so look for them on the planner. This is a record of our walking tour with a private guide.