Jet lag doesn't seem to be affecting us. We rose early today for a tour of Athens. Our first stop was the stadium of the first Olympic games. The age of the buildings in Athens is simply stunning. It's difficult to imagine ancient people walking in the very places that we are standing. Following the the Olympic stadium, we headed to the New Acropolis Museum.
Although the museum is very modern looking they have incorporated the history so beautifully. The first thing that catches your eye when you approach the museum is actually below you. During the excavation process for the museum, they discovered ruins from ancient Greece. How does an entire home, road, etc become totally buried? I guess when you're talking thousands of years a lot can happen! To preserve these artifacts the homes and roads under the building site were dug like any other archeological dig the exception being a columns and a glass roof were put in above them to so all visitors to the museum could see them too. There are many places along the ground floor where visitors can view the layers of history right below them. The second thing that caught my eye in the museum is that the 3rd floor is not oriented the same as the rest of the building. It took me awhile to figure out why. The designers shifted the top floor so that it's orientation matched the actual Parthenon sitting atop the Acropolis just a short distance away. In fact the entire 3rd floor is an up close look at what the top of the Parthenon looked like. Columns (smaller of course but same in number) surround the 3rd floor giving the feel that you are actually walking around the top of the ancient Parthenon and a feel for the scale of the historical building. Sections from the orginal building have been removed during its restoration and are now part of this display. Casts of other sections fill in the gaps.
We left the museum and began our climb to the top of the actual Acropolis. I wondered so many things duirng this climb... What was it like for the acient Greeks to climb this? When did they use this temple? Who was allowed to use it? I also couldn't help but wonder the obvious question... HOW did this possibly build this? Our guide informed us that the Parthenon took a mere 15 years to build. Although that may sound like a long time consider the fact that is was done all by hand!
As we reached the top of the Acropolis and saw the Parthenon for the first time, I was captured by the beauty of a building so old. So much of it is missing now and yet it still looks alive. The dimensions are simply perfect and the size overwhelming. I was surprised to discover that the diameter of the columns at the bottom is not the same as the diameter at the top. In person this is so clear, and the dimension and beauty it adds is indescribable. Athens is a sprawling city since vertical height cannot be utilized... no building or structure can be higher than the Acropolis. We took many pictures at this site including pictures of the the other temples sitting atop the Acropolis.