Sunday, September 19, 1999

The Acropolis

I got up at 7:45 and dressed for the Acropolis tour. The sky was overcast and threatening rain. On the bus ride over we saw the palace guards in their ceremonial uniforms. They really do look a little silly in their white skirts and leggings with huge pompoms on their shoes. We passed the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian's Arch, both of which I hope to photo next Friday on my free afternoon.

The Acropolis is steeped in history so deeply I can't begin to do it justice. It's iconic, and has come to represent the best in ancient Greek civilization. Of course, it was built with money extorted from the Delian League, but no one seems to care, and the tour guides rarely bring up that sort of unpleasantness.

We climbed a series of steps, some old marble and some new concrete, and along the way peered down at the Odeon and the Agora. We saw a nondescript hill a stort distance away--a bare, knobby mound. This, they told us, was the Aereopagos, where supposedly Paul the Apostle preached his sermon about the Unknown God. Farther along the path we passed an impressive section of columns, and then to the right, we saw the Parthenon itself. It stands proud, strong, yet delicate--a perfect building for Athena, the goddess of wisdom, patron and namesake of Athens. I believe they said ten million people a year come to see it. Part of the effect was spoiled by scaffolding to facilitate the current preservation efforts. They are using titanium to replace the old iron reinforcements, and inside the Parthenon is a mess of scaffolding and a crane.


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