AcropolisPhoto by Aleksandr Zykov

In the far south of Attica peninsula, lays the capital of Greece – Athens, the metropolis of millions that survived the ups and downs like small number of cities in the world. In Athens basics of parliamentary democracy and free elections were placed, which still apply in all democratic societies. On a hill near the city center, Acropolis is located – the most important station for every tourist that comes to this city. When you pass through ancient “gate” – Propylaea, on your right you will notice the remains of a small temple of Athena “Nike” ( “winner”).

You will see two more temples, the Parthenon and the Erechtheum, as well as two ancient theaters Herod’s Odeon Theatre of Dionysus, both at the foot of the hill. Parthenon (VI – V century BC) is the temple built in the oldest Greek – Doric style, and it was considered to be the most important Athenian temple, dedicated to the goddess Athena Parthenos, the patron of the city. For the construction of the temple the greatest artists of the time were engaged, including the sculptor Phidias.

In the center of the half ruined temple once stood a huge statue of Athena Parthenos, made in chryselephantine technique (combination of ivory painted in gold). In addition to the Parthenon there is a little younger and smaller temple – Erechtheum, constructed in Ionian architectural style, with the “caryatids” (supporting pillars in the form of female figures). There is an interesting story of how and why the ancient Greeks began to build caryatids in their temples. In ancient times, the area around the famous resort in Turkey today, was the state Caria.

The Greeks won it and made it a colony. Women from Caria were so beautiful that Greek men brought them to Athens to marry them. Since they were slaves, Caria women could not oppose the act of getting married, but they mutually pledged that they will not bear children to the Greeks.

For this there was a very good reason: if they gave birth to a male child, that child will grow up to be another Greek, who will fight against their own country. Miraculously, the Greeks deeply respected their decision, but the memory of their sacrifice and beauty was preserved in “caryatids”.

It should be noted that unlike the ancient temples in present-day Turkey, and especially those in the Middle East, Athens temples dating from a similar period did not remain preserved to the present day. In the complex of the Acropolis, there is a small museum, whose exhibition includes some of the objects and statues found at this site. For those who want to see more, the National Archaeological Museum is a must. From the Acropolis stretches the beautiful view to densely populated city. At the foot of the hill, in the direction towards the center, the part of the city that the Greeks called Plaka is situated.

Most famous Greek taverns are here, small souvenir shops, and during the day (and especially nights), with “Sirtaki” and “bouzouki” it is quite lively and cheerful. From some parts of Plaka at night you can see the Acropolis, which is illuminated with reflectors, and looks like “blockhouse that is not in heaven, nor on earth.” Near the Acropolis you can find Hadrian library, Karameikos cemetery, a monument to Diogenes, an extremely interesting circular monument to the poet Lysistrata, and cell in which Socrates was imprisoned, all from the period of antiquity.

After the Syntagma Square, in the middle of town there is another archeological site – Olympia, from the VI century BC, dedicated to the Zeus. Not far away Hadrian’s Gate is situated, from somewhat later period.

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