We hired a private guide/driver for the day to take us to all of the important sites in Athens. Our first stop was the Acropolis. The word acropolis comes from the Greek words "akron" meaning edge or extremity, and "polis" meaning city. This impressive area is situated on top of a large hill overlooking the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great historical and architectural significance, with the most famous being the Parthenon.
We entered the Acropolis through the Propylae, the monumental entrance to the sacred area. It consists of a central hall with two wings on either side. We saw the Temple of Athena Nike, The Odeum of Herodus Atticus, the Theater of Dionysus, the Erechtheion, and of course the impressive Parthenon.
|Temple of Athena Nike|
|The back of the Propylae|
|The Theater of Dionysus|
|The Parthenon, courtesy of Ashley & Kamalan Selvarajah who had clearer skies than we did!|
|East side of the Erechtheion|
|Female statues used as columns at the Erechtheion|
After our visit at the Acropolis our driver drove us up to Lycabettus Hill. It is the highest point in Athens and has a great 360 panoramic view of the city.
|Jon and I standing outside with the guard who isn't allowed to move.|
We also went to Panathenaic Stadium, which is the site of the first modern Olympic Games held in 1896. It was reconstructed from the remains of an ancient Greek stadium.
We took a quick stop at the Olympian of Zeus, which started construction in the 6th century BC. It was a massive temple (the largest in Greece) that was dedicated to Zeus, the king of the Olympian Gods.
|Olympian of Zeus from the Acropolis|
Next we went to the Roman Agora, the marketplace of that time. It was built in the 2nd half of the 1st century BC, with the intention of transferring the commercial center of the city to it from the Ancient Agora.
Our driver Sakis then dropped us off for lunch at what he called the best place to have souvalkis. Souvlakis are very similar to gyros in that small pieces of meat and/or vegetables are grilled on a skewer and are put into a pita bread (or not) with a sauce like tzatziki or something similar. The souvalkis we had were fantastic! They were just what we wanted for our last Greek lunch.
After lunch Jon and I walked around the Plaka area of Athens. Plaka is the oldest historical part of Athens. It's built on top of the residential areas of ancient Athens and is clustered around some of the Acropolis. Plaka is full of labyrinthine streets and tons of shopping. We spent a good amount of time here picking up souvenirs and gifts, including a very nice cherry wood backgammon board (we heard that Greeks love backgammon).
|One of the wider streets in Plaka.|
|The Acropolis from inside the museum|
|Excavations underneath the museum|