At the risk of sounding cliché-ish, time does go by so fast you will hardly notice it.
Two years ago to this day, I was in Prague, overwhelmed to be in the City of 100 Spires, only taking comfort in my walks around the Old Town and in the company of my Couchsurfing host.
There had been a lot of memorable moments from my European trip, with many stories and experiences that ran the gamut of emotions—from ecstatically happy to depressingly sad. In most cases, my experiences were banal, although I’m glad to say that a few of them had been pretty unforgettable.
Indeed, when you are faced with the fact that you’re in one of the world’s most famous landmarks—like the Colosseum in Rome, the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, or the Acropolis in Athens—it’s hard to feel anything other than disbelief.
You’re seeing places you’ve only dreamed about, read about, or fantasized about your whole life. How can it be more than just a dream?
Take the Acropolis, for instance. Who hasn’t heard of it, or of the Parthenon? For anyone who had studied (or been forced to study) the classics in school, or watched movies (e.g., Hercules, Percy Jackson, Pompeii, 300), it’s hard to forget the Greek gods, with their awesome power and concurrent conceit, and their everlasting meddling in the affairs of mortals that more often than not went awry.
The Acropolis is one such place where you can “feel” the presence of the Greek gods. It’s a grand complex with structures that are thousands of years old, reeking of history and generations of human piety to the powers above.
Of the buildings in the Acropolis, the Parthenon is the most famous. All over the world, there are thousands and thousands of photographs of it standing tall and proud, a proven testament to the power of man who made something study enough to survive centuries of human violence and even indifference.
Prior to entering the Acropolis, however, remove any expectations you may have about the Parthenon.
Because when I came out between the huge stone columns of the Propylaea which served as the gateway to the Acropolis, I was shocked when I saw the Parthenon for the first time. There were cranes in front of it, and it was criss-crossed with metal railings.
Where was the Parthenon of the postcards, the picture books, and the countless photographs? Where was the centuries-old huge temple dedicated to the maiden goddess Athena?
Actually, it’s still there, but it—together with all the structures in the Acropolis—was being meticulously restored. Every single piece of stone or marble that comprised the Parthenon was being dismantled and taken to the Acropolis Museum, to be replaced in site by stone copies of the original.
The restoration project had been going on for years, with everyone involved committing to preserve the structure as it had looked thousands of years ago.
The same was being done to the Erechtheion, the ancient Greek temple dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon with six figures holding up the roof. Called the Porch of the Caryatids, only five statues remain.
One had been sent to the British Museum while the original five statues were in the Acropolis Museum.
I went around snapping pictures left and right of the grand structures inside the Acropolis, and even though I didn’t expect it, I began to slowly feel the magic of the place and appreciate its beauty. I was glad to be there by myself (there was only one guy near me, the Couchsurfing sticker on his backpack clearly visible); I needed the solitude to reflect and process what I was seeing and what I was feeling that moment in the presence of so much history.
In the end, despite knowing that most of the blocks that comprise the impressive structures in the Acropolis were all just copies of the original, I still couldn’t help feeling awed by it all.
I was in the middle of the Acropolis, with the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike around me. These grand structures, built by Athenians centuries ago to honor and worship the gods, especially their protector, Athena, demanded of them their admiration, respect, and reverence, and I found myself giving the same.
Indeed, up there in the Acropolis way up high in Athens, it was so easy to feel that we were closer to the gods and were blessed by them all.
The €12 ticket you will buy to see the Acropolis will be good for three days. With it, you can also visit other archaeological sites, namely the Acropolis Museum (a must!), the Ancient Agora, the Theater of Dionysus, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Roman Agora.
Buy it at the entrance to the Acropolis.
- The Tale of Tonyo the Brave - June 14, 2022
- Things To Do in São Paulo, Brazil: Visit the Consolação Cemetery - October 31, 2021
- Solo Travel Tips: Brussels, Belgium - February 17, 2021
It’s always a pleasure to see my hometown through the eyes of a traveler. The Acropolis is definitely a must -and yes, I agree with the other guys here, the renovation will take years. But the thing is that it’s very hard (and necessary) to keep it in good condition. I guess that renovating Acropolis and Parthenon is an on-going process; that said, it will never really finish. It attracts lots of visitors and if you add on top the fact that the monument has gone through a lot of incidents (from wars to polluted air) it is important to take care of it constantly. Thanks for sharing.
I agree. Acropolis is definitely worth a visit, but the cranes and metal railings can throw you off guard when you first see it. I also love the other archaeological sites that the Acropolis ticket is packaged with. Kerameikos is definitely an interesting visit for us, with its death-themed museum, as is the much less crowded Ancient Agora. But my favorite site in Athens has got to be Plaka with its lush gardens. I love Plaka!
Your use of words made me feel of how it’s like to be in the Acropolis. Too bad na until now, most of the temples are under restorations.
Thanks for joining the carnival! 🙂
@ Christine: It was such a thrill being there for the first time. I’ve only read about it before. 😀 Hope you get to go there soon. I will always want to go back to Europe!
@ Melvin: They’re moving everything to the museum to preserve them. So everything outside will just be copies of the original.
it can be disappointing din na antagal mo hinantay na makita yung famous na landmark and when you get there its covered with scaffoldings.when i saw arch de triomphe for the first time part of it was covered and kitang kita sa sa photos.wow,i didnt know that theyre replacing the original materials of the parthenon,is it just temporary or are they moving it for good inside the museum.
Awesome! This is ideal as I just started researching Greek. Hoping to go. Your photos remind me of slides I saw long ago in my architecture class in college… a long time ago. Acropolis is such a powerful place- can’t wait to see it in person!
@ Marisol: I agree with the importance of taking care of the Parthenon. I guess I just didn’t expect it would look like that, seeing all the photos in postcards haha
@ Chie: Thanks for dropping by, Chie, ánd hope to see you here again. Do share any of my posts that you like 🙂
I just stumbled upon your blog while looking up places to stay in Santorini. Love your photos! Thanks for sharing them.
Hi Aleah, your photos brought me right back to that amazing site. I know the crane was a bit of a let down but the care was necessary considering the age of the structure. We were just lucky when we were there because the front portion of Parthenon was not covered yet so we were able to have a nice frontal shoot without the obstructions. Nice photo series and narratives.
@ Mary: It was early spring, and the best time indeed to visit! I’m sure your kids would love Athens. They could remember all the scenes and characters in the Percy Jackson books!
@ Dana Carmel: Well, you’re going to Europe soon. Enjoy!
I’d love to make it to Athens someday soon. Glad that you found your visit to the Acropolis was still worthwhile in spite of the construction.
I was a Greek and Roman mythology geek when I was younger and I’ve been wishing to go to Greece for so long. So, I love seeing all of these pictures and enjoyed this post a lot. I’d still be in awe (even with all the cranes). My kids are big Percy Jackson fans too. Beautiful pictures, Aleah. I’m so glad you got to experience all of this beauty. I hardly see people in these pictures. You went on a great day.
@ Photo Cache: Wow, the renovation’s taking a really long time. I guess they need to be really careful with it eh? I wonder when they’ll finish?
@ Beth: It’s definitely a place you should visit at least once!
I loved Prague, and have visited the Colosseum and Sistine Chapel, but still haven’t made it to the Acropolis. I hope I make it there someday!
that is how i saw acropolis too, in the middle of renovation. that visit was 5 years ago. probably just like sagrada familia of bcn it will never be completed (knock on wood).
@ Mike: I have so much more to write, Mike. Unfortunately, I’m not as prolific as some bloggers I know 😉 I enjoy your blog posts, too, especially the ones with Phoenix!
@ Aki Libo-on: Enjoy the Philippines. We have so many beautiful places here!
Awww… I envy you. I hope I’ll be able to have a European trip someday. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the beauty of Philippines. 🙂
To be completely honest I would be devastated to travel around the world for the first time ever and see the Parthenon with all of that equipment around it. That is the first time EVER I’ve seen that photo angle of the Temple of Zeus with the modern buildings in the background. I’m so jazzed you had a great time and I love your posts always, Aleah! Awesome beautiful photos! Just wish we got more of them, our friend! 🙂
@ Sky: You’re too kind for saying that about my photos haha But yeah, walking around Athens was unbelievable. I couldn’t believe I was there! You and Summer should definitely go one of these days!
I just don’t know why I’m so fixated with Greece, maybe my demigod attributes has something to do about it. lol
BTW your Photos are Stunningly beautiful! Post Card Material!