We obviously couldn’t miss a visit to the Acropolis during our stay. We’d spent so much time admiring it from all angles around the city – including from our hotel terrace where we ate breakfast – that we were excited to hike up and explore.
The Parthenon – the famous temple to Athena – has been terribly damaged and most of the original sculptures are mostly in the wonderful Acropolis Museum, but you can’t help but be impressed as you admire the ruins of this temple.
Mythology tells us that Poseidon (The God of the Sea) and Athena (The Goddess of Justice, Philosophy, Arts and Literature) both wanted to rule over the city. Both entered into a competition to win over the Athenians.
Poseidon struck the ground with his trident, and sea water sprouted from the ground (Athens is only a short distance from the sea). Athena followed, hitting the ground from which an olive tree grew.
The locals were so impressed with this new tree that they chose Athena as their patron goddess. And so a city was named.
The Parthenon was built as a temple to the patron goddess. Construction began in 447 BC and it took nine years to complete. The official dedication to Athena occurred in 438 BC. There was once a huge ivory and gold statue of Athena at its center. Only the less opulent Roman copy has been preserved today. It is in the Acopolis museum.
Since then, the Parthenon has served as a church, a mosque and an arsenal. It suffered severe damage in sieges on the city. The most severe damage was suffered in 1687, when the Ottomans were using it as an arsenal and the invading Venetian troops lobbed cannon-balls its way, seriously damaging the temple.
The Acropolis and the spectacular (new!) Acropolis Museum, which I’ll write about in a separate post, are not to be missed on your next visit to Athens.