• Acropolis of Athens seen from temple of Zeus

The Acropolis of Athens, birthplace of the Western World

Ever since I was a little boy, I was always fascinated about Heroes and Gods of Greek Mythology. Epic histories about war, love, betrayal and passion, from the legends about the siege of Troy by Achilles and his allies to the more historically accurate tales of Leonidas and the fight of the Spartans against the Persian Empire.

The heart of Greece lies in Athens, one of the most historical cities in the whole world, and the center of such culture starts at the Acropolis, a citadel located on a rock plateau above the city of Athens, containing a significant number of historical temples, the most famous one being the Parthenon, considered to be one of the new Wonders of the World.

Are you ready to explore it with me?

The city of Athens seen from the Acropolis

The city of Athens seen from the Acropolis

A brief history of the Parthenon

The Parthenon, like the Hagia Sophia in modern-day Turkey, has suffered a complete shift in functions in its long history, mainly due to outside forces that have held control over Greece over the ages.  It originally started as a Temple to Athena, patron deity of the city and Goddess of wisdom, strategy, law and justice. If you are a Mexican (or a Japanese) reading this, you probably best know her as the main Goddess from Saint Seiya.

The name of the building comes from Athena Parthenos, which is one of the many aspects or representations of the Goddess, Parthenos meaning Virgin in Greek, which is very important since, in a pantheon of Gods with daily incest, adultery, zoophilia and more, Athena was the only pure one of the bunch.

Allegedly.

The Parthenon

The Parthenon

The Parthenon served as her temple for more than one thousand years, from the 4th century BC to the 6th century AD. It became a Christian Church and its name changed to the Church of the Parthenos Maria. How unimaginative, uh?

During the 15th century, following the fall of the Byzantium Empire, Greece was taken over by the Ottoman Turks and the Parthenon became a Mosque, minaret included. It should be noted however, that the exterior reliefs and decoration remained intact and became an impressive wonder  to all travelers and citizens alike, who marveled at such exquisite details that, during such time, were more than 2000 years old.

This, however, soon came to an unexpected halt.

The Hill of the Elders

The Hill of the Elders

The downfall of the Acropolis of Athens

In 1687, during a war between Venice and the Ottoman Empire, the Parthenon, which was strategically used as a gunpowder magazine, was hit by a mortar round and suffered significant damage, leaving the whole Acropolis in ruins and facilitating the subsequent looting of precious sculptures and friezes, the most famous of the lot being the Elgin Marbles, which currently reside at the British Museum in London and are a subject of controversy since the Greek government is interested in recovering them.

It wasn’t until the Greek Independence in the 19th century that the foreign Christian and Muslim elements were completely removed from the Acropolis, starting a slow and yet steady process of Hellenization and restoration of the Greek cultural heritage. As of today, the Acropolis stands as closely as it was during the 4th century BC, the only difference being that it is now in ruins.

Incredible tale of endurance, right?

Acropolis of Athens

Acropolis of Athens, Wonder of the World

The other archeological wonders of Athens

Finally, once your visit to the Acropolis is complete, you can choose to trek down the opposite way, visiting the ruins of the Theater of Dionysius as well as finding your way to the new Acropolis Museum, this place, inaugurated in 2008, holds all the marbles, sculptures and friezes recovered from the Acropolis and offers some very good views of the Acropolis itself from the restaurant located on its terrace.

This museum is a very nice opportunity to complement your Acropolis experience since it also offers recreations of what the Parthenon and its friezes looked like before its destruction as well as offering explanations about the stories being told in them such as the battle against the Giants and the Contest between Athena and Poseidon, for example.

If you still got the time (and the energy), you can also visit the Temple of Zeus, which is located near downtown. I remember I once took a duckface selfie here with my friend Marysa and Zeus got so angry that it started to rain non-stop for days!

The selfie that doomed the world

The selfie that doomed the world

Practical information about the Acropolis of Athens

From Monastiraki square, it is a short (or long, depending on how much time you want to spend taking pictures of the breath-taking views) trek up to the Acropolis.

At the entrance gate you can buy combined tickets (12 euros) that allow you to enter the Temple of Zeus as well, please note that if you are currently studying in Greece (or any other European Union country) you can get in for free regardless of your nationality.

Have you ever been to Athens?  Would you like to? Hit the comment section down below!!! Also, be sure to follow the New Seven Wonders of the World Project as I continue to explore these marvelous places as I provide travel tips and inspiration to those who wish to embark on this wonderful journeys.

Acropolis of Athens seen from temple of Zeus

Acropolis of Athens seen from temple of Zeus

October 30th, 2014|Categories: Europe Travel|Tags: |
Raphael Alexander is a Nomadic Digital Marketer and Travel Influencer who overcame the chains of the local economy and found a way to achieve his dream of having a professional life while traveling the world non-stop. His goal in life is to inspire the people of the world to unleash their full inner potential. A perfect day for him includes exotic animals, ancient pyramids, breath-taking waterfalls and tasty tacos. Lots of tacos.

8 Comments

  1. Milene February 9, 2014 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    The Dutch are quite known for their “kijken kijken niet kopen” thus, of course, I looooooove this post. I haven’t been to Athens yet, but I’m sure I will one day. And now I can enter the Acropolis for free, whohooo =) Thanks for sharing!

    • Raphael Alexander Zoren February 9, 2014 at 5:38 pm - Reply

      “Watching not buying”? Hahaha, I can agree with that, specially for the budget traveler like me. Third-World countries, on the other hand, are VERY strict with the discounts, I was once refused the free entrance to the Pyramids of Teotihuacan because I only had my French student card and not my Mexican one. Even tough the guard could obviously see my “Mexicaness” he still said no.

  2. Marysia @ My Travel Affairs October 30, 2014 at 11:58 am - Reply

    LOL Now we are official blamed for a bad weather in Athens during TBEX. I though we gonna keep that information to ourselves dude! Ha ha ha Great post and yet again your speed of putting posts online amaze me, you are my hero, I should learn from you!

  3. Marysia @ My Travel Affairs October 30, 2014 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    And I though it was supposed to be an angry selfie not duckface lol

  4. Jessica Dawdy October 30, 2014 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    Cool insight into the history of this famous place :). I find I’m disappointed by a lot of really famous sites because the build-up is so huge, but the Acropolis definitely lives up to its reputation – both in how impressive it looks and in its fascinating history.

  5. ablondearoundtheworld October 30, 2014 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    Loved the Acropolis! I was astounded to be in a place so old!! The views are magnificent! Nice post!! Full of great info! The girl doesn’t seem to enjoy your company quite much though 😛

  6. esther julee November 7, 2014 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    Ahh we were just here a month ago. I miss it. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your post! It’s giving me motivation to go back and look through my photos to edit.

  7. Pontian Greek Macedonian November 2, 2015 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    My Grandparents are from Greece. My Mum’s side originated from Pontos and my Dad’s side is half Pontian and half Macedonian. I am proud to have Greek roots because Greece is so beautiful and if it weren’t for the Greeks then the Balkans would be in deep crap right now. Love from Australia Greek Brothers and Sisters!!!! <3 <3 <3

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