August 31… The topic for today is…Impressions of the Acropolis

The air was heavy and thick as we walked down the narrow streets. I struggled through the heat like I had just ran the marathon and I coughed in the mess of hot air and polluted haze. The morning journey seemed endless as we made our way to the famous city on a hill. This ancient city is known as the Acropolis. I had known very little about this city except that it had some ancient Greek ruins-the most famous ones in the entire western hemisphere. I didn't want to know any more-it would spoil the surprise. We finally made our way out of the crammed buildings and into an opening. The Acropolis was right in front of us. I gazed up at it in wonder. I felt as if I were looking through a passage back into time. We were going to a city-a 2,400 year old city.

We walked over to the hill and made our way up the rocky path. I felt like I was an ancient Athenian making my way up to my empire's well defended city. When we got to the top we immediately understood why this was a very important landmark for the Athenians. It towered over the entire city clearly representing the Athenian empire's power and strength. We knew this without even taking a glance at the temples and other monuments on the hill. After gazing out at the city I finally moved my glance over to the entrance of the Acropolis. The marble steps guided my eyes to the passageway. On either side of the stairs were magnificent marble columns. They were a remarkable white color and decorated on the top and bottom by crown like structures. The crowns were designed artistically with various curved shapes. When we entered the sunlit courtyard of temples I felt overwhelmed with activity. Around me were ancient Greek temples with mysterious features we still cannot achieve in architecture today. Each one of these monuments held secrets that archaeologists are still trying to reveal. The entire area felt very mysterious and in a way magical. It was a cloudless day and not a single gust of wind was there to cause movement in the hazy air.

We then walked over to the right side where the mighty Parthenon stood. The columns completely took my breath away. They were exactly how I imagined Greek ruins but ten times bigger. As I gazed up at the enormous temple I could almost picture the Greek Aristocrats making there way to the beautiful statue of Athena. I imagined the enormous doors opening and shedding light onto the floor. This light formed a pathway to the enormous golden statue of Athena. For the Athenians this light was leading them in a way to love and wisdom. I was disappointed that we would not get to experience this effect, but accepted it in return for the overall beauty and magnificence of the structure. I stared upward at the triangular surface above the columns and made out some vague carvings engraved in the stone. All of this beauty stuck straight out at me and I barely noticed the reconstruction that was taking place behind the columns. We overheard one of the tour guides talking about the ingenious illusions that the Greek architects created to trick the eye when looking at the Parthenon. Archaeologists believe that the Greeks constructed the foundation so that it was slightly concave and the columns slightly convex to make them both look straight even from a distance; amazing!

After exploring all sides of the Parthenon we visited the Acropolis Museum to take a break from the heat. I found it very interesting to see all of the ancient statues they found from excavations in the Acropolis. We took our last breath of the air conditioning and returned to the heat. As we walked over to another temple I realized why this seemed so different to me. This place did not have lots of built in paths and information signs for tourist purposes…it was very similar to how it used to be in ancient times. All around me were random marble ruins; some were pieces of columns, some were ancient carvings and writings. They were all unlabeled making me feel like an archaeologist. All of the stone ruins surrounding us were puzzle pieces that archaeologists are still trying to put together into a better understanding of the architecture during this period of time. I felt like I was in the middle of the desert looking for ancient Greek artifacts.

We continued to look at the temples that comprised in the Acropolis discovering new facts and understandings of their history from each one we saw. They were all amazing but the one that stuck out the most for me was the Erechtheion temple. The small well preserved temple was supported by six women statues taking the place of columns. I was amazed with how well preserved they were, still showing great beauty and complexity. I looked around me and tried to permanently store in my memory the feeling of looking around and seeing all of these ancient temples holding secrets of the past. I pictured in my mind looking over the edge of the rocky hill and seeing all of Athens and its surrounding mountains. I felt adventurous. I was looking at ancient Greek ruins at the Acropolis in Athens. It was hot and I was surrounded by mystery, magic and rich history. We finally walked out of the Acropolis where we had started, and onto the rocky path. We walked out of the doorway with a greater understanding of history than we had walking into the doorway. It was a great feeling.

When we reached the bottom we drank a well deserved lemon slush and then made a quick visit to the theater of Dionysos. Here many drama performances for the Athenians took place. It was interesting to see some of the seats that important governmental people sat in to watch the productions. After this we took our last look at the Acropolis and returned to our air conditioned hotel. I looked out our window and saw the Acropolis with a greater appreciation for the ancient Athenians and their influences on our world today.