We self-guidedly visited Greece and Turkey for 19 days back in June of 2009.  In retrospect, it was a trip filled with many memorable adventurous experiences and laughters.   I understand deeper the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose."  Often time, in our mundane daily life, we seem to easily lose the focus of life and can't seem to steer ourselves to where we want to go without procrastination.  Whenever I travel, my sense of direction is intensified.  I will re-steer my direction the moment I sense the lostness until I reach the destinaion - the very purpose of having my brain and feet.   

Our itinerary could be found here.  Together we visited Athens, Meteora, Patmos, Mykonos, Santorini, Samoe, Kusadasi, Ephesus, Pamukale, Cappodocia, Istanbul, and a 15-hour+ transit in Zurich.

Athens, like Rome, both an ancient and modern city.  The old and the new mingled together.  

pic The modern Athens is on the left, the ancient on the right.

pic The ruins are literally littered everywhere within the historical district.  We joined the free morning Walk tour from the hostel to Monastiraki (little monastery), an old part of Athens which nestles under the ancient Acropolis. 

From here we began our exploration of the ancient Athens.   


The Roman Agora

It is right next to the metro station of Monastiraki.  

picLocated west of the Roman Agora lies the ruin of Hadrian's Library, built in 132AD by the Roman Empiror.  Like other ancient buildings, this too was destroyed by the Herulae in 267AD.


pic The Gate of Athena Archegetis, not far from the libary.  It was built between 19 and 11BC with the donations of Julius Caesar and Augustus.  


picThe Tower of the Winds.  (This picture is from the google.image site.  Mine was not as clear as this one.)  This is octagonal tower Was built in the first half of 1BC by the astronomer Andronicos.  The structure features a combination of sundials, a water clock, and a wind vane. the name of the structure relates to the representation of eight winds, North, Northest, East, Southeast,, South, Southwest, West, and Northwest.  The usage of this tower varies from the various period of times.  It was used as a church, temple, and tekke of the Dervishes.


picOdeion of Agrippa. Supposed to be a high building and the most impressive Roman structure in the Agora.  It was donated by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and was built in 15BC.  This path leads to the Ancient Agora.




In the history of this city, this area was occupied without interupption since 3000BC as a burial and residential site.  In early 6th BC, it was developed into a marketplace and the heart of political, commercial, administrative, social activities, and religious and cultural center in early 6th BC.  


pic The most prominent building in the site is its reconstructed Stoa of Attalos (1953-1956).  The original of which was built in 159 BC by King Attalos, King of Pergamon and was destroyed during the invasion of Herulians in 267 BC.  It was considered the most impressive stoa, a Greek structure of covered colonnades served as a commercial center,in Ancient Agora.  The Stoa of Attalos not only housed high-end shops that catered to wealthy Athenians, but also offered as shade in summers and shelter in winter rains.  The reconstructed stoa is used as Agora Museum. 


pic The Stoa of Zeus Eleutherios It was dedicated to Zeus Eleutherios(Freedom), a cult founded after the Persian wars (490-479BC). This was a temple that took on the form of a stoa.  That was why some historians believed it might serve other civic purposes.



Slowly we hiked up to Acropolis through the stone-cut steps, hoping to get a glimpse of the old glory of the Acropolis.  History always humbles me.  No man-made cities can stand gloriously forever.  None.  I was rather amused by what I saw at my last visit at Dubai, a city that strives recklessly to build everything in the superlative terms, such the tallest, the largest and etc.  Try she may, as time moves, whatever may be glorious today will soon be a pile of ruins tomorrows.  Such is the law of life.  Like it or not. 

The sun got hotter by the minute, but that didn't deter the crowd from climbing up.  Our exposed skin was hot red by now.  Our made-in-china big hat was helpful. 

pic Parthenon It was originally built as a temple to house the 12m tall statue of Athena. As time progressed, it became a church, a mosque, and later became the Turks' ammunition warehouse,which led to the explosion in the center of the building by the bombardment of the Venetians in 1687.

The scaffolded 2.5K year old Pathenon may not show it old glories, but definitely reveals its fragility and in need of any conservation care it can get. The sculptural decoration has been preserved in fragments only.  They are scattered among some European musuems, of which British Musuem in London, due to Lord Elgin, probably has the most collection.


pic The Erechteion.  Was named after a mythical god Erectheus. Built from 421 and 414BC.  Another temple - dedicated to Athena Polias and Poseidon and other gods such as Erectheus. 


picThe six famous Caryatids here on the Maidens porch are copies.  Five of the original went to Acropolis museum and one to British Musuem. They sure look elegant even as a copy version.

The other must-see in Athens is the National Archaeological Museum - contains probably the richest collection of Greece artifacts.  One could easily spend the whole day there, if not more.

My take-away:

 A city that taught me to reverence history and to avoid investing my life into building something grandeur here on earth as there is nothing as everlasting on this side of heavens. 

Two-full days in Athens is enough to cover the ancient sites and the National Archelogical Museum.

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