19.04.2011 40 °C
Athens is one of the world's oldest cities and
it's history spans over 3,400 years. It's oldest stories
tell the tales of Greek mythology & the Greek gods and
the city itself is named after the Greek goddess Athena.
The Parthenon is the most important site in Greece and
was completed in 438 BC, it stands on top of the Acropolis
and was built as a temple for Athena and was a place to keep gold,
gifts and statues dedicated to the goddess.
Today the Parthenon is considered one of the most symbolic
structures of the ancient world and attracts over seven million
tourists a year. We went on a walking tour of the Acropolis,
which is 150 meters above sea level and got a close up view
of the Parthenon and a great panoramic view back over Athens.
It was 40 degrees that day and i haven't sweated so much in my life.
Also on the Acropolis is another famous ancient Greek temple
The Erechtheum which features the Porch of the Caryatids,
five female statues columns that help to hold up the structure.
These date back to 406BC but during the 19th century a sixth figure
was removed from the site and is now on display in the British Museum
in London. The Greeks are trying to return her to her temple but so
far without any luck.
From here you can enjoy a birds eye view of The Temple of Zeus,
it was built between 472 and 456 BC and in it's time it was the
largest temple in Greece, even bigger than the Parthenon. Today
not much of the temple remains but you can still see some of the pillars
still standing and one that has fallen down. The area gives you an
idea of how large it must have been and is worthy of a closer look
if your interested.
Athens is also the birthplace of the Olympic Games and the city
hosted the first ever international games in 1896. The world's largest
sporting event was held in the Panathinaiko Stadium. In ancient times,
the venue was used to host the Panathenaic Games and at the time
the stadium had wooden seating. In the 18th century it was rebuilt
completely out of white marble and holds up to 80,000 spectators.
108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Olympics Games.
Greece won medals in total and the games were declared a big success.
Both the old and new stadiums are now major tourist attractions.
The Plaka is made up of narrow streets and alley ways and is
referred to as the neighborhood of the Gods, it is located below the
Acropolis and the area is full of culture, outdoor restaurants and cute little
stores. We went to a Greek restaurant for dinner there and were treated
to a culture show that featured greek dancers and a live music,
it was a fun night but unfortunately there was no plate smashing.
As we left we saw the Parthenon all light up at night and looked
even more beautiful.
The next day we went into the city and ended up at Syntagma Square
to watch the changing of the guards, greek style! The Evzones are
members of the Greek army that are chosen to guard the
Tomb of the unknown soldier infront of the Parliament building.
The ceremony takes place on the hour and involves guards
shuffling their rifles and replacing the former two guards at their
post stations. The guards are known for their unique uniforms
which includes a kilt, woolen stockings, a garrison cap and a pair of
red leather clogs with a black pompon on each foot.
The guards look funny but i think they were quite intimidating.
On our way through Athens we passed two iconic locations, one
being the Rion-Antirion bridge, which opened in 2004 in time for the
Olympics and now is the world's longest multi-span cable-stayed bridge.
It crosses over the Gulf of Corinth and the car toll to cross is a
whopping 12.20 euros.
We also stopped in for a photo stop at the Corinth Canal,
which is a 6.3 kilometers man made canal in which they needed
to cut through the sedimentary rock face at sea level. This is considered
a great technical achievement for its time in 1881 and saves a 700 kilometer
trip around the Peloponnesus. Today 11,000 ships pass through the
canal a year and it has become a place of interest for tourist to see.
In 2010 daredevil Robbie Maddison made history as he jumped
the Cornith Canal on his motorbike. The Australian rider leaped across
the 85 meter wide opening and was 95 meters above the canal's surface.