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Athens: Part 2

150 years ago Athens was home to only a few thousand people, but today about a third of all Greeks live here — over four million people. It is a huge, dense, sprawling city centered around the Acropolis (literally, “high city”), which can be seen from anywhere in Athens.

Overlooking Athens and the Acropolis

After entering the Acropolis archaeological site, we walked further uphill and passed through the Propylaea, a giant building constructed around 435BC as the entryway to the Acropolis.

The Propylaea, gateway to the Acropolis

Once through the Propylaea, we walked the slippery marble streets of the Acropolis — good shoes are a must when touring the Acropolis. What immediately draws your attention is the enormous Parthenon on the right. Although it is currently under renovations and covered with scaffolding, it still impresses. Any marble building two-thirds the size of a football field, built 2,500 years ago should! Most of the renovations currently underway are to correct improper renovations done almost a century ago. How the archaeologists can put all the various ruins together is amazing. It’s very similar to putting together a puzzle without all the pieces… where some of the pieces don’t fit together… and you don’t know what the picture looks like.

The Parthenon

Across the street from the Parthenon is the Erechtheion, with its Porch of the Caryatids — six columns carved in the shape of maidens. These columns are replicas of the originals, which are now in museums.

Erechtheion and Porch of the Caryatids

The last sight as we headed back through the Propylaea was the Theatre of Herodes Atticus, a relatively recent addition to the Acropolis (AD 161). The ancient Greeks and Romans really loved their theaters, as we encountered several in every ancient city we visited. They were used for political discussions as well as entertainment, and historians are able to estimate the population of ancient civilizations by the seating capacity of their theaters. The seating area in this theater was rebuilt in 1950 and is now used for the annual Hellenic Festival.

Theatre of Herodes Atticus

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