October 27, 2019

We sailed to Piraeus, the port just below Athens. We saw a bit of that town and then headed to the Acropolis in Athens. At the base is a Roman theater, and up on the Acropolis are the Parthenon and and other temples to Athena and Poseidon. While Athens and the Parthenon are dedicated to Athena, you don't want to make Poseidon mad at you or make her jealous either. So wherever there is a temple to one, they erected at least a small temple to the other one.

The theater (or technically an odeon) was built by the Romans in the second century AD.

Because of the crowds, I wasn't able to take great photos of the Parthenon. It was a temple of Athena Parthenos (Athena the Virgin), completed in 438 BC. It is generally considered the high point of Greek architecture and one of the most important monuments in Western civilization. It was built along curved lines so that it would appear straight. In the fifth century AD it became a church. When the Turks invaded in 1456, they turned it into a mosque and added a minaret. They also used it to store gunpowder.

In 1687 the Venetians fired on the Turks defending the hill, and the gunpowder exploded, so much of the Parthenon lay in pieces, and various Europeans took parts back home with them. If you want to see most of the statuary from the Parthenon, visit the British Museum in London. If you want to see the building's size and shape as it once looked (sort of), visit the replica in Nashville, TN. The current renovation project began in 1976.

Off in the distance is the site of the Agora, the marketplace, corresponding to Rome's Forum.
Note the simpler Doric columns on the Parthenon above and the fancier Ionic columns on the Erechtheion below.

The Porch of the Caryatids cleverly uses beautiful statues of women as the columns holding up the roof.

Athens’ highest point is Lykavittos Hill, site of the Chapel of St. George.

A Roman cistern

The Panathenic Stadium was built about 330 BC, and was rebuilt several times since. It was excavated in the nineteeth century and redone and used for reviving the Olympic Games in modern times. It last hosted the Olympics in 2004.

After we toured around modern Athens, we rode along the coast and headed to Cape Sounion on the southern tip of the Attic peninsula mainland to visit the Temple of Poseidon. It was built around 440 BC during the Golden Age of Athens to replace a temple that had been destroyed, probably by the Persians forty years earlier.


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