Friday, April 30, 2010

Church of the Holy Apostles

This is the Church of the Holy Apostles, the first structure we reached after leaving Acropolis. From the Acropolis, its dome begs for exploration. I didn't realize that it was located in the agora. So imagine my excitement to find this jewel after entering agora.
The exterior is noted for its good ashlar masonry and ornamental use of Kufic inscriptions.
I read that the church is the only structure other than the Temple of Hephaestus to survive intact since its foundation. Wow!
Interesting tile design.

It was originally built in the 10th C over a circular nymphaion [sacred spring]. I surmise this is where the altar was originally.
The original floor plan is a cross with four apses on four sides and four columns supporting the dome.
There are well preserved frescoes of Christ Pantocrator (Ruler of All) in the dome.
A few surviving wall paintings in the central aisle date to the 17th century, and paintings from nearby churches were also placed elsewhere within the church.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ancient Agora of Athens

While the Acropolis has its temples in different stages of restoration, the ancient agora on the other hand is not showing any signs of ongoing renovation at all. There are three structures that are intact and/or have undergone renovation/reconstructions. I will show them in the coming days.
The agora was a place where people assemble and later on they put up stalls to sell their good and wares and it has become a marketplace. The Forum is the Roman counterpart of the Greek Agora.
You would NEVER see rich women there, you would only see poor women. Rich women would send slaves or men to do their shopping for them. I grinned when I read those lines from wikipedia.
Relics are very fascinating, but my head was spinning with all the things to see and I suppose overload took over and I can't remember all the notes I mentally took :D Plus of course, this trip was months old.
It must be simply fascinating to do some excavation here.
There it is sitting on a hill the Temple of Hephaestus, which will be featured later on.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

And We Move On

I can't remember how long we stayed and explored Acropolis. But somehow, it was time to move on with the itinerary, like we have one. This sign really left me grinning. I suppose if you are in ACROpolis, the sign would definitely say WAY DOWN and not just down, right :D
I saw the crowd - probably the guided tours - and thanked my lucky stars that we came in early and practically had the temples all to ourselves.
I saw another sign - a sign that I wanted to see. We wanted to see the Agora - I thought it was a big fat marketplace. Boink on me and my ignorance of Grecian history.
I'm sure there's some historical significance to this path, but this leads to the ancient agora.

Will continue with the ruins of the agora.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Do you remember this sign I have posted at the beginning of this series? You see clearly that dogs/pets are not allowed inside.

However, all over Acropolis we spotted dogs and cats who seemed to call this historic city home. They were everywhere, lying in marble, on the ground, in gravel - sleeping, resting, minding their own business and not bothered by the tourists nor bothering any of the visitors either.
I read somewhere that the ancient Greeks believed that once they leave their human bodies in death, their souls pass thru being animals. Hence, they hold in esteem their dogs and cats as they may be the reincarnated Athena or Zeus.
Do you know where the proverb "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie" mean? It means that someone should not say something or do something that would cause someone else to be angry or to make trouble.
Furthermore, "let sleeping dogs lie" means for one not to disrupt a situation that is going well as it leads to problems.

If that metaphorical dog is just laying there asleep, leave him be. Don't go messing with him or he might wake up and bite you. [info from WikiAnswer]

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I kept Shooting

Who wouldn't be? Why wouldn't I, when the extent of my visit to Athens is limited to Acropolis and Agora?

Rooftops galore
There was a mountain in the distance. Help needed in identifying it.
Marble bench
I was very disappointed that I hardly had any people-watching images. I guess when you have centuries-old structures to photograph, the choice is clear.

On a personal note - my cat Emma is pretty pissed that I'm taking too long in blogging. She keeps walking up and down the keyboard. So I better sign off here, I've got a cat to pet :D

Sunday, April 18, 2010


All over the Acropolis we saw a lot of these broken pieces of marble, inventory for the restoration. They were not labeled according to which temple they belong to, at least I haven't seen any.
And I saw this pretty little "throne" - do you think it's a throne?
I've worked in a job where we took inventory twice a year. It's a ton of work - time consuming and boring - I can't tell if it was the same with the people who keeps the inventory of these items.
As you can see they are grouped together and are cordoned off - hands off policy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Parthenon

I may be the only one here who knew basically zilch about the Acropolis before I came to visit. I do know however that every time I see a picture of the Acropolis, it was always the Parthenon they show. So, it was imprinted in my brain that the Parthenon must be the centerpiece of the Acropolis.
Parthenon is the temple of goddess Athena, who was considered the protector of the Greeks. Any information about the Parthenon can easily be googled, so I'm leaving this task to you.
This side of the temple is wrapped in scaffolding signifying restorations are in progress.
Close up detailing

I am guessing this is one of the pediments. [A pediment is a classical architectural element consisting of the triangular section found above the horizontal structure (entablature), typically supported by columns. The gable end of the pediment is surrounded by the cornice moulding. The tympanum, or triangular area within the pediment, was often decorated with sculptures and reliefs demonstrating scenes of Greek and Roman mythology or allegorical figures. It also consisted of many bright colours suitable to the nature of the building being adorned.]
This side of the Parthenon has sustained considerable damage during the 1687 explosion.

I don't know how the gov't gets funding for the restoration, but with Greece's financial woes I am hoping that they would find ways to keep the restoration going. It's a shame not to.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Erechtheum

The most sacred temple of the Acropolis in ancient Athens was the Erechtheum - a temple dedicated not to particular god but to the whole galaxy of gods and heroes and served as a residence and a burial place of ancient kings.

Temple was built over the spot were the dispute between Athena and Poseidon for the right of patronage over Athens took the place. Poseidon gave a source of water to the Athenians and Athena olive. The Athenians considered that a gift from Athena is more valuable and choose Athena as the main god of the city.
The temple is named in honor of one of the first kings of Athens - Erehteya who for the sake of Athens sacrificed his daughter to the gods. He was buried under the Erechtheum.

In Erechtheum also was buried mythical king Kekrop who was the former founder of the city of Athens.

Erechtheum as the other Acropolis buildings was conceived during a grand building started by Pericles.

However because of the Peloponnesian War construction began only in 421 BC after Nicea Peace treatment. Then it was suspended and resumed in 406 BC by architect Filoklom.

The pearl of the temple is the so-called The Porch of the Caryatids. Caryatids - statues of six girls dancing ritual dance in honor of the goddess Artemis. The temple was badly damaged in 1827 when it was destroyed during the fighting Greeks for independence.

[info from a website whose name I failed to take down, sorry]

The back view with 1/2 of the couple we shared the cab and toured the Acropolis with.

The front side
The Caryatids - I could only count 5 or did I mistakenly cropped this shot.
Stairs on the side leads to the right side of the structure. The guy on the top is the other half of the couple we toured the place with and the guy in shorts is my husband .
Sideview from top of the stairs.
I was fascinated by this door.
and these windows.

This is my post for this week's WINDOW VIEWS AND DOORS TOO. It's my #18.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Theatre of Dionysus

I am guessing the ancient Greeks' life is filled with entertainment. Here's another venue for their diversion.
This is what it looks like today. In ancient Greece, it was an open air theatre dedicated to Dionysus the god of wine, fertility, and drama. Per wikipedia: The Greek authorities announced on 11/24/2009 that they will partially restore the ruined marble theatre. The Culture Ministry said the $9 million program is set for completion by 2015 and will include extensive modern additions to the surviving marble seats.

I never got to see the ruins up close, I only got an eagle's view from Acropolis.
Not too far from the theatre is this set of ruins. Now with the entrance fee comes a map for DIYers, but the map is that of a "restored" Acropolis, not how they look at present. So it is very difficult for me to identify this structure. This is the part where I wish I was on a guided tour :D

Friday, April 09, 2010

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Odeon is difficult to miss. Its walls are the first ones you'll see before climbing up to Acropolis. I don't know how much of this wall theatre has stood the test of time and how much of this is a product of restoration.
A little peek at the theatre.
I see someone doing some restoration? I suppose if you work for Acropolis as part of the restoration team, you will have job security.
Info from wiki:
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a stone theatre structure located on the south slope of the Acropolis of Athens. It was built in 161 AD by Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla. It was originally a steep-sloped amphitheater with a three-story stone front wall and a wooden roof, and was used as a venue for music concerts with a capacity of 5,000.

The audience stands and the 'orchestra' (stage) were restored using pentelic marble in the 1950s. Since then it has been one of the main venues of the Athens Festival, which runs from June through September each year, featuring a variety of acclaimed Greek as well as International performances; The Odeon has hosted Maria Callas, Maurice Béjart, the Bolshoi Ballets, Karolos Koun, Mikis Theodorakis, Manos Hatzidakis, George Dalaras (1988, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008), Haris Alexiou (1994, 2006, 2007, 2009), Marinella (1999, 2008), Dionysis Savopoulos (2004) and many other important artists. It was the venue for the Miss Universe 1973 pageant and hosted Yanni's Live at the Acropolis performance in September 1993. Another memorable performance at the Odeon of Herod Atticus was given by the Greek singer Nana Mouskouri in 1984; after 20 years of absence she returned to her country. In 1957, Edith Hamilton was pronounced an honorary citizen of Athens at ninety years of age.

The information from wiki has made me question this sign posted outside of Acropolis, especially the penultimate bullet. Isn't holding concerts a direct snub on its rule of forbidding "to sing or make loud noises"?