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The bus then took us to the Agora, the ancient marketplace, equivalent to the Roman forum. Most of it was now rubble, but the Theseon, a large temple in the classic style, was very well preserved. In addition, the long Stoa of Attalus had only recently been reconstructed to its original specifications. (More about that later.) Attalus II was King of Pergamon and had the Stoa built (c.150 B.C.) as a gift to Athens.

Acropolis from the Agora

The Theseon

Stoa of Attalus

Finally, we drove to the entrance of the Acropolis. However, King Paul and Queen Frederika of Greece were there to film an American TV series on the ancient Greek civilization, and no tourists were allowed to enter. We waited about half an hour before they came down. After greeting the crowd, they got into their car, a Ford Thunderbird, just a few feet from us. Frederika was quite attractive, and both she and Paul were very warm and informal. King Paul drove the car himself. (King Paul died less than a year later.)

King & Queen descending

Queen Frederika

King Paul shaking hands

As we walked up to the Acropolis, we stopped to look down into the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, an old Roman theater now partly restored and used for performances of the ancient Greek tragedies.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The Propylaea

Temple of Nike

On the Acropolis itself, the principal attractions were the Propylaea, entrance to the site; the small Temple of Nike Athena (Wingless Victory) nearby; the split-level Erectheion, with its Porch of the Caryatids; and of course the Parthenon, famed masterpiece of Greek architecture.

The Erectheion

Porch of the Caryatids

The Parthenon

Although I love the Acropolis for its classic straight lines, the truth is that there is not a single straight line in the whole temple. All lines are imperceptibly bent to compensate for the distortion that would otherwise occur because the viewer is on the ground. The corner columns are even slightly wider than the others so they appear to be the same size in spite of being silhouetted against the bright Mediterranean sky (which makes them appear narrower).

By now the sun had gone behind the clouds, and it had turned cold and windy. We were turned loose to browse the Acropolis on our own, but we had to rush because they were starting to close up. We got back on the bus and were dropped at our hotel around 7:30.

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