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sunny 19 °C

We left Delphi with our heads spinning with historical facts and mythology and had just one night to recover before tackling the mother of ancient Greek monuments; one of the greatest manmade wonders of the world – the Temple of Athena atop the Acropolis of Athens. With only one day left before our flight to London we had asked the Oracle in Delphi for blue skies and clear air at dawn and she didn't disappoint...
This enormous ancient temple – the Parthenon - sits high above the city and it is a steady climb in the blustery autumnal air. But the stunning views of the city and the Aegean Sea from the top are well worth the effort...
We were first through the gates and had the whole of Athens laid at our feet while most tourists were still eating breakfast, (and there are still an incredible number of tourists despite the lateness of the season). To us, the Parthenon looks pretty ancient, (after all it was completed in 438 BC), but it's actually a replacement for the one that the Persians destroyed in 480 BC. Although the 'new' one looks pretty good after nearly 2,500 years it has actually been renovated many times. In its time it has been a Christian church and a mosque, and on the 26th September 1687, when it was being used by the Ottomans as an ammunition dump, the invading Venetians blew part of it up. What stories these ancient rocks and soaring columns could tell...
However, while the Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Western Civilization, the nearby Temple of Hephaestus is actually more authentic because it has never been restored...
This beautiful temple, built in 450 BC, honoured the god of metalwork, craftsmanship and fire, and it stood alongside Athens' ancient marketplace – the Agora. History so surrounds us in Athens that we find ourselves barely glancing at buildings and ruins that would be major tourist attractions in most cities of the world. The remnants of historic monuments lie scattered everywhere and it's clear that many of them will never be resurrected ..
However, there are more than enough restored and protected ancient buildings to make Athens one of the finest outdoor museums in the world. This is the ancient Greek Temple of Erechtheum...
While this is the Roman's Herod Atticus theatre, (circa 161 AD), just one of the many more recent buildings clustered around the Acropolis...
And these elaborately carved stone seats, with the names of their aristocratic owners engraved on them, are at the nearby Greek theatre dedicated to Dionysus – patron of the arts and god of the onion harvest and masturbation, (Not kidding)...
Today, we began with a leisurely breakfast in the shadow of the Acropolis and watched the sun rising along the Panathenaic Way, the main road to the Acropolis, that has been trod by countless millions since its building three thousand years ago when this was the procession route for the acolytes of Athena...
And so, our quest that began in Norway with Odin has ended on the road to Athena's Temple - the Parthenon.
But, what on earth would those road builders have made of the rest of our day as we took the Metro to the airport and flew first to Rome for a light lunch, then to Heathrow for tea, and finally to Central London for dinner?
London welcomed us with warm sunny skies and we'll be spending a couple of weeks here. Maybe we will find some ancient nuggets to blog about in a week or so.
Αντιο σας for now.

Posted by Hawkson 11:46 Archived in Greece

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Thank you for taking us on your journey. Loved every bit of it.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Wishing you a safe journey to the next leg. Thanks for all your posts.

by Janet

"Warm, sunny skies in London"--as I wished for you. Amazing your luck with the weather.
If that last picture gives correct perspective, your steady climb up to the temple was considerable.
All that green deciduous foliage a real contrast to a Canadian autumn.

by R and B

Can you imagine blowing up the Parthenon! Antiquities still under threat from tourism, war and vandalism everywhere, but at least now there is an awareness of their immense value. Great set of photos to end the trip.

by Tom

There must have been a huge work force in Athens around 450BC building both the Temple of Hephaestus and Acropolis around the same time!!! Very impressive photos and weather! Thanks so much for sharing the journey!

by Alison Fitzgerald

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