For anyone considering a trip to Greece, Athens has many sites that should
be seen. However, once you see these, there is not much reason to stay
in Athens. The city is fairly polluted, crowded, and the traffic is very
bad. Despite the fact that the city itself is not the most pleasant, we
had a wonderful time there thanks to all the things to see.
There is much already written on the Internet, on all the sites we visited, so I won't go into great detail.
Here is what we did and what we enjoyed.
| The Academy of Athens
I highly recommend seeing the Academy before you go to the Acropolis. If
you do, you will get a better idea of what the buildings on the Acropolis
would have looked like.
The Academy of Athens forms part of the so-called "Neoclassical Trilogy"
of the City of Athens consisting of the Academy, University, and Library. A corridor connects the two lateral wings to the main body of the building, which is set off by its Ionian-style entrance and its big pediment. The entrance ornamental design originates from the eastern side of Erechtheion, on Acropolis. The main material on the facets is marble. Overall, the building is a characteristic example of mature Neoclassicism.
It was built in two phases, in 1859-1863 and 1868-1885. You can see embossed
work of art on the central pediment and statues outside, the embossed work
of art on the eight small pediments (1875) and the wall paintings in the
interior. Academy Photos
The entrance to the Acropolis was unknown to us at the time, so we followed
signs directing us to it, only to be led to the rear, which was not open
to the public. However, it did take us through winding back alleys (you
can't call them streets) of this cozy village, which we would not have
seen otherwise. Even with it's cobbled stones, which are difficult to walk
on at times, and its steepness, we enjoyed the diversion.
Many Greek cities had their own Acropolis but the one in Athens, built in the fifth century BC, is the best known. In the Acropolis, you will find the Parthenon, which was a temple for the goddess Athena, also the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion (with the Caryatids) and the ancient entrance. The temples are very impressive but also the view from atop the hill is incredible. The Acropolis is a grand structure, no doubt about it.
The museum inside the Acropolis houses many of the original statues from the Acropolis ruins.
There are many tour groups here and it is a shouting match with each guide
using their vocal prowess to explain the ruins to their group. The Acropolis
is a place where pictures do not do it justice, and it's virtually impossible
to get decent photos without many people in them. Acropolis Photos
If I could ask the Greeks one question it would be: "Why don't you rebuild the Parthenon to its former glory?" It
is not as if the destruction of it is sacred history that must be preserved,
in fact, the 300 years since the explosion is a very short time-span in
the history of the building. Much of the Parthenon has been taken apart
and put back together with many pieces being replaced anyway. Though it
is a tribute to the glorious past and the achievement of the Ancient Athenians,
it is also a reminder that whatever is good in man is eventually overcome
by ignorance, war and a hunger for domination. Like many others, I say
rebuild the entire Acropolis as an inspiration that whatever is wrong with
the world can be righted. (Until some idiot blows it up again).
Monastiraki (little monasteri), mid 11th century, is where Ermou and Athinas Streets meet. Ermou Street, in the center of Athens, is named after the ancient Greek God Hermes, God patron of trade.
Much of the flea market here is not really a flea market. It is a collection
of small shops of which most of them are tourist shops with the same stuff
you will find in the Plaka. You can come here anytime, but weekends and
Sunday in particular is when it is like a third-world flea market with
people selling anything from antiques to what you might call useless junk.
Not everyone is a shopper. Some of us are people watchers and Monastiraki
gives you plenty of opportunity to do just that.