I have to start out by saying feta, feta and more feta…
The Acropolis at Athens has to be among the most famous and iconic sites of the ancient Mediterranean and indeed it is spectacular but what piqued my interest was the Panathenaic Stadium – home to the first ancient Olympic Games.
The grand marble stadium was originally built in the 5th BC and seats 60,000 people. Just imagine – 500 B.C., and by the way they were naked when they competed! Gym or gymnasium in greek means naked.
The stadium also was the finish line for the marathon (born there) which, believe it or not, starts at Marathon Lake. Guess what the distance is between the two!?
5th century BC also brought Athens the Acropolis – ordered to be built by Pericles. The Parthenon dominates the site and is surrounded by many structures including the Erechtheion and Temple of Nike (the winged Goddess of Victory). It is breathtaking!
The temples basically stood the test of time (including an earthquake) until 300 years ago when the Turks were in power and used the Parthenon to store explosives. Yup, explosives! Being on the receiving end of a bomb the Parthenon imploded. Restoration is currently under way. BTW, at Ephesus, for example, the Austrian government has been donating excavating teams continuously since 1823!
Athens is home to 5,000,000 people – half of their country’s population. This city is much like most metropolitan cities however the architecture is the abhorred concrete construction typical of the 60’s and 70’s – a shameful contrast to the ancient masterfully crafted marble architecture dotted throughout the city – still buried and waiting to be exhumed.
Highly illegal graffiti (a Greek word by the way) line the city walls crying out about austerity measures. Garbage was stacked on the streets because the workers went on strike 2 days before.
2 days after we left the citizens rioted in the city closing down the streets.
It is now 6 days after I initially wrote this (no internet to upload) and they are still protesting through out Greece.