I leave today for Istanbul but before that, I wanted to see the ancient Athens.
So yesterday night, I drew a plan for touring everything of importance this morning. I took the map and the guide that the airport hotel had given me and I created, in my opinion, the most optimized itinerary.
I will not describe all the monuments, but if you are curious and want to get an idea of what I plan to visit, here is the itinerary:
Hotel – Mitropolis – Tower of the winds (10)- Roman Agora (19) – Acropolis – Ancient Agora (11+9) – Thesseion – Pnyka hill – Filopapou hill – Lyssicrates monument (17) – Hadrian’s Gate (14) – Temple of Zeus (21) – Athens Stadium – Zappeion – Presidential residence (66) (was not planned initially) – Parliament building – Sindagma – Hotel
I woke up early, checked out of the hotel, and started walking toward the first stop at 8:30AM. I was not back at the hotel until 3PM. I was happy but quite tired and with a minor case of headache due to some dehydration and insulation.
I really liked the tower of the winds which Ledi and I had seen by night. We were wondering what it was when we first saw it. I said that based on the the high-relief characters it might have been a representations of Icarus. Well, I was wrong. I guess it is what happened when you want to look smart in front of a girl but you do not know what you are talking about! It is an octagonal base building with a personification of the winds blowing from the direction the front is facing. It seems like it was used as a clock and calendar too!
The Acropolis is just grand. It towers the whole city and it is not rare to turn around the corner of a street and just get a glimpse of one of its monuments. But once you are walking on it, it is a bit disappointing as most of the buildings are surrounded by scaffolding and you cannot get inside the Parthenon. Also, it was very crowded as is to be expected. The museum there is very nice with some great artifacts that were removed from the monuments in order to protect them.
The Roman and Ancient Agora did not impress me as much. Well except that I was walking where once Sophocles and Aristotle taught!
The views of the Acropolis from the Pnyka and Filopapou hills are definitely worth the hike. I got lost a bit but eventually found my way to the top of these two hills.
The temple of Zeus is also quite a sight and can definitely rival other large temples I have seen in my trip like the temple of Zeus in Jerash and the temple of Jupiter in Baalbek. You also have a good view of the Acropolis from there.
It was definitely rewarding to walk that much. The views of Athens from the top of the three hills are also great showing how large and extended Athens is. Also, in a city where everything is a potential antiquity, I think Athens, unlike Alexandria for example, has stricken a good balance between the need to protect its historical monuments and the need to turn itself to the future.
All in all, Athens might be the most rewarding Hellenist/Roman city I have visited ,right up there with Jerash :).