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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
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.