A long layover is a great way to cheaply add a city to your sightseeing list. This is how we’re spending 35 hours in Athens!
We arrived at 9 p.m. last night and rode the metro into town. It’s not hard at all. A student ticket one-way costs only 4 euros apiece, and we just rode it 16 stops to Monastiraki station, which is in the heart of downtown, historic Athens. Again, we’re staying in a studio apartment through airbnb and loving it. It is just as cheap as a private room in nearby hostels, but with a much nicer bathroom!
The next morning we hopped on a bus tour and saw the city. Unfortunately for us, most museums close on Mondays. Didn’t find that one out until we tried to enter the Benaki museum and the Byzantine museum and everything was dark and roped off. Oh, well. Maybe I didn’t want to see pottery shards anyway.
The Acropolis museum was open, however, and we got wonderful insight into the Parthenon and when/how it was built.
The Acropolis was windy, beautiful, and the parthenon was under reconstruction. This conservation project has been going on since 1983, and soon it will be finished.
People have lived near/on the Acropolis since the Neolithic period, and in Mycenaen times a king built his palace there. The top of the Acropolis became associated with Athena around the 11th century BC. The Greek/Athenian empire was at it’s height around six hundred years later. Construction began in 447 BC and was finished just nine years later. This building replaces what archeologists call the “Preparthenon,” which was a temple to Athena that was destroyed by the Persians around 480 BC. When the Delian League was formed by the Greek states, it also served as the treasury.
In the 5th century AD it was converted into a Christian church, and many of the reliefs were disfigured purposefully. Later, in the 1460s it was turned into a mosque by the Ottomans. In 1687 the Ottomans stored ammunition in the building, which caused an explosion when the Venetians bombarded it.
While the Parthenon is the most well-known building on the Acropolis, there are ruins of other temples. Jordan is standing in front of one of them.
From atop the Acropolis we could see the whole city, including a green patch surrounding the ruins of Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Zeus.
Those pillars are absolutely massive. So, so big. You can just see the people walking around the bases, to give you and idea of the size. It took 638 years to build! It was begun before Athens was a democracy and finished by Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD.
Our last big stop (because many things were closed) was the National Archeological Museum. If you like sculptures and statues, then this is the place for you!
We saw all sorts of beautiful Greek things, including the Agamemnon death mask and the Antikythera Mechanism. This mechanism is a type of astronomical calendrical calculator and has been call the world’s first computer. It’s really cool.
The Agamemnon mask isn’t necessarily the real Agamemnon-from-the-Iliad, though the archeologist that discovered it believed it was. It’s Mycenaen, the Greek civilization before the great civilization, and may possibly be older than the Trojan war time. Scholars tend to say the mask is a fake or it’s from 1550 BC. The Trojan war was somewhere between 1240 Bc and 1194 BC.
Jordan poses thoughtfully with the death mask.
Our layover in Athens was fun and over faster than we wished, but now we move on to South America!