We are here in Athens, Greece this month! It is surprisingly large and busy, busy. The picture below shows the view from Mount Lycabettus where you can find panoramic views of the city. Buildings stretch all the way to the coast and to mountains on either side.We wanted to see everything in the city and went with Athens Tour Driver to show us around. Our local guide Manos shared much of his beloved home city (and it’s history) with us.
Upon arriving, Athens kind of reminded us of LA because it is so large. The buildings go on and on! You can get a feel of the vastness from up on this hill and can spot many of the famous historic sights. In the picture above you can see the Acropolis on top of the hill in the middle. Below you can see the corner of the Panathenaic Stadium which is the only stadium in the world which is made completely out of marble! This was where the first modern Olympic games was held in 1896. The green area is the central park of Athens.
After taking in these views, we headed down into town and our first stop was the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Construction of this temple began in the 6th-century B.C.and it was not completed for about 640 years-mostly because of a lack of interest by rulers. The foundation of this temple was laid on the site which was previously an ancient outdoor sanctuary dedicated to Zeus. Below is the entrance gate.
Here is what remains. Only 15 of the original 104 columns still stand and one is lying broken on the ground from a storm in 1852. Where did all the columns go? The temple was systematically quarried in order to provide materials to build houses and churches in Athens during Medieval times. At least a few were left!
Next, Manos took us to get a closer look of the marble stadium. He told us the story about the origin of the modern-day marathon. The marathon we know today comes from the legend about a Greek messenger Philippides after the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. where the Greeks defeated the Persians. Philippides is said to have run from the battlefield all the way to the assembly (some 20+ miles) to burst in and exclaim “we have won!’ before collapsing and dying.
When the modern Olympics started they featured the marathon as a way to recall the ancient glory of Greece. In 2004, the marathon was run on the traditional route from Marathon to Athens and it is still marked on the street leading right up to the stadium.
Next, we went to the Acropolis and swung by the place they call the Prison of Socrates. Quite interesting but it is up for debate as many claim the true prison where Socrates drank the poison was in Agora.
Here is a smaller temple next to the Partheon called the Temple of Athena Nike, built in 420 B.C. Nike was the winged goddess of victory in Greek mythology.
Then the Acropolis in all it’s glory. Acropolis meaning “high or upper city”
From the Acropolis we had a great view of the Temple of Hephaestus which was very well preserved considering it was finished in 415 B.C.According to Greek mythology, Hephaestus was the patron god of metal working, craftsmanship, and fire
We also passed by the Church of Metamorphosis.
After the Acropolis, we headed toward the sea to visit Piraeus. This port city winds in and out of harbors lined with yachts, sailboats, restaurants, castles, and modern buildings. Here we saw the Aegean Sea for the first time.
Manos shared with us about the islands, sailing, and seafood. (Him and Slade share the same favorite..calamari!)
Those are all sail boats out there!
Boats for cruising to the islands.
After driving around Piraeus, it was time to head back home. We saw a few other places I will share later and made one last stop at the Parliament building to see the changing of the Royal guards, which happens every hour on the hour. Below you’ll see the new guards coming out. Quite interesting costumes!
This is them in front of the tomb of the unknown soldier.
What’s to like about Athens? The historic sights, of course, the delicious souvlakis and feta cheese, and the friendly people. I’ll show a quick picture of a souvlaki for anyone who doesn’t know. It is veggies, meat and sauce wrapped in a pita. These are everywhere, they are filling and under $2
Until next time..