Thursday, 13 October 2016

Greece - The First Democracy

Greece Ελλάδα

When I think of Greece - I think of sunshine, blue water, windmills and white buildings with blue domed roofs. But of course it is so much more. Lindsay never really wanted to come to Greece because he said it is full of old rocks, what most people would call ruins. And he's sick of rocks, along with churches, waterfalls and anything he has seen more than a dozen times, unless of course they are bears or any of the big cats. And yes, there are a lot of ruins and a lot of history here and I couldn't come to Greece without exploring some of its history.

We went to Athens, Olympia, Delphi and Meteora on the mainland. Then two islands: Mykonos and Santorini.

Athens Αθήνα Athína

Working out what places to visit in Athens was made easy by buying the combination tickets that gave us access to a number of sites and sights. It covered the Acropolis, the Roman Agora, The Library of Hadrian, The Olympieion, Ancient Agora, Kerameikos and the Lykeion of Aristotle. All were in a 10-20 minute walk from our hotel. I had downloaded a few of Rick Steves’ walking tours for my iPod and printed the maps. We were here mid October and there are still many tourists around.

The Greek Alphabet

One of the biggest problems about walking around Athens is that the maps are written in the latin (our) alphabet and the street signs are written in the Greek alphabet which looks like this:

Matching a street sign to the map was impossible

Upper case, lower case, greek name (I think), then how to pronounce it. So that backward E is an S.

Somehow The Parthenon is ο Παρθενώνας

Changing of the guard at the unknown soldier

 We can see this square from our hotel and I had just read that morning that on the first Sunday of each month at 11am there is a full changing of the guard. The main street gets blocked off and we were all told to move over to the other side of the road, it was so the parade could come down the road and into the square.

Their shoes have pom poms on them and they do a bizarre walk. A parade of the military band followed by soldiers precedes the changing of the guard.

Temple of Olympian Zeus
Hadrian's Gate marked the boundary of the old and new city - 131AD

One of the winds at the Roman Agora

The Acropolis

The Acropolis is of course the main attraction of which the Parthenon is the star and was built as a dedication to the goddess Athena. It sits high on a hill overlooking Athens and really was a natural fortress. Over the years many people have invaded Athens and made their mark on the Acropolis buildings. The Persians, the Turks and the Germans. I nearly forgot to take a photo at night of the Acropolis. Unfortunately the last night was really windy which moved the camera too much to take a good photo; you could see the picture moving in live view. The following morning it was still blowing, so no luck there either. A zoom lens would have been very helpful but I just didn't want to be carrying the extra weight. Some extensive processing skills have produced a reasonable picture.

From the rooftop of our hotel
The Parthenon has had scaffolding on it for over 20 years and will for many years to come

 In WWII when the Germans arrived they asked a soldier to take down the Greek Flag. He did and wrapped himself in it and jumped to his death. A week later some people raised the flag again in defiance and so the resistance began. 

and the flag still flies there today

The Ottomans (Turks) turned the Parthenon into a Mosque and added a minaret. They kept their gunpowder up there and when the Venetians bombarded them, it destroyed many of the buildings. 

Lots of pieces just waiting to be put back together

Unfortunately Lord Elgin took the many of the Greek antiquities that they found back to England; the English really should give them back.

These little churches are everywhere throughout the city
I think someone wanted to feel like they lived on a Greek Island
Columns were built in pieces and connected by a rod

There were no sunsets on any night; just as sun would start to go down, the clouds would snaffle the sun.

On our last night in Athens there was a protest just up from Syntagma square. The speeches started in the early afternoon and went on way past sunset. There were a lot of people but maybe not as many as they had hoped as the speakers were spread further down the road with no audience. When we asked what was going on they just shrugged, they are just unhappy with the government. Who isn’t?

View of the city from the Acropolis

Related Posts:

1. Athens - Greece - The First Democracy
2. Olympia - Let the Games Begin
3. Delphi - Ancient Delphi
4. Meteora - The Stone Forest
5. Mykonos - Those famous Windmills
6. Santorini - The Belle of the Islands

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jane,
    Your photos of Greece great, just at it is in real life. Keep enjoying your travels.