We left Hydra on Sunday at about noon and just over an hour later we were arriving to Piraeus Port…ready to start the Athens segment of the trip!
We took the metro from the port to our hotel which was near the Omonia metro stop. This hotel was definitely a different flavor from Mistral Hotel on Hydra.
The name says it all.
But, the rooms were clean, the lobby was nice, the receptionists were very friendly, and breakfast was included. So, nothing to complain about. 🙂
After dropping our stuff off at the room, we headed out right away to start seeing the sights. Unlike the total sense of relaxation on Hydra, Athens came with a certain feeling of pressure to ‘get stuff done.’ With so many famous places and museums, we wanted to make the most of our two days. On the way to the Acropolis, we walked through Monastiraki Square – one of the main shopping and pedestrian areas in Athens.
At the square, we grabbed sandwiches at Everest, a Greek sandwich chain.
With restored energy from the food, we continued on our way towards the Acropolis:
The Acropolis sits on a hill at the highest part of Athens. Due to its height, Acropolis Rock, sometimes called the “Sacred Rock,” was used for sacred purposes since neolithic times. The ancient Greeks built several temples on Acropolis Rock, most of them honoring the city’s namesake, the goddess Athena. The temples built here continue to appear incredible and majestic, and the architectural designs found at the Acropolis have played a big role on architecture within the Western world. To enter the Acropolis, we climbed the hill, snaked through a park, and finally approached the front entrance, called the Propylaia:
Since the Acropolis sits on such a high point of the city, there are some pretty incredible views looking down…
…including a neat view of the Temple of Olympian Zeus:
We especially enjoyed spotting Lykavittos Hill which we planned to go up later that day:
After entering the main area of the Acropolis, we headed straight to the Parthenon.
The Parthenon served as a temple to the goddess Athena, and in ancient times a huge gold statue of Athena was housed inside. The sheer size of the temple and columns were really impressive to see. There’s currently a restoration project going on, hence some of the scaffolding you can see in the pictures.
After the Parthenon, we crossed the pathway to look at the Erechtheion. According to myth, Poseidon and Athena battled to rule the city that would become Athens. Athena was selected for the position because she produced the first olive tree to represent what she could offer the city (hinting to the later significance of olives in Greece). The Erechtheion is built on the spot where this battle was said to occur, and within the building are two separate temples: one to Athena and one to Poseidon. Caryatids (sculptures of women, acting as columns) support one side of the temple (the left side in the picture below). The caryatids on display at the Acropolis are actually copies of the originals. Of the six real ones, 5 are in the New Acropolis museum and 1 remains in the British Museum.
After our fill of sightseeing, we made our way to the New Acropolis Museum.
This museum opened in 2009 and has really interesting architecture. The floors are made of glass, and looking down you can see excavations of an old Christian village. The museum itself houses many of the original marbles from the Acropolis. While at the museum, we learned that Greece has reclaimed many of these marbles as the result of political pressure being placed on Britain to return the artifacts to their rightful owners.
After the museum it was already dark outside, so we decided to alter our original plan for the evening. We had been planning to hike up Lykavittos Hill and then enjoy dinner at the top. Since it was darker and later than ideal, we decided to take the funicular to the top instead of walking:
Views from the top were amazing!
We enjoyed a light dinner at a restaurant on top of the hill before walking back – exhausted! – to the hotel for bed.