Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day 11 - The Acropolis

I'm going to sound like a broken record before my trip is over, but I have to say that NO picture of the ancient sites of Greece fairly depicts the grandeur and scale of the real experience.

Let me use the Acropolis as an example. I've seen enough pictures of it to know the structures and the basic configuration, but what you don't get photos is the scale and three dimensional reference.

The Acropolis is visible from anywhere in Athens. Impressively lit with spotlights, it becomes a beacon for travel around the city at night. If you're lost, you can look at the Acropolis and orient yourself because the Parthenon faces east to west. It's the compass of Athens!

The elevation of the site is stunning. I had a preconceived notion that the walls rise from the street level, when, in fact, they start a couple hundred feet above street level.

After the cab dropped us off, we walked up a curving pathway to the ticket office. From there you continue up the incline to the Propylaean Gate. The gate itself is being reconstructed and there are wooden steps over a section where the original steps are missing.

As you reach the floor of the site, the Parthenon makes an immediate impression because of its size and scale. The Erechtheion by comparison is much smaller.

There is a construction crane in the middle of the Parthenon being used for re-building and repairs, so its tough to get a photograph without the modern technology. One can see in the structure where new mable has replaced or been added. The new mable is impressively integrated. On the west side of the site sit pieces of the original structures in piles (a marble junkyard) -- scrolled Doric capitals with no home. Part of the re-building attempts to correct previous repairs which were done with iron rods. The rods rusted, causing the marble to crack. The rods are being replaced with titanium.

The view from the Acropolis is one of a kind -- the agora to the north and the city surrounding it all.

We walked through the agora and also visited the Theater of Dionysus, which sits adjacent to the south wall of the Acropolis. I imagined the great plays being performed and the audience of 17,000 hanging on each scene. What a history!

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