The city dedicated to Athena is a city of striking opposites. Poverty, immigrants mostly selling 1€ useless garbage — music makers serenading the air, looking for a minimum of 0,20€ donation. What is striking is they blend directly into the fabric of the city, laughing with the locals, adding a different color to an already culturally explosive city.
Most cities in Europe I’ve been to, share in this, but it’s never more striking as taking pictures of an archway built over 2000 years ago while in the background a busy city street buzzes by. The city is lorded over by the Acropolis, and it’s relic known the world over -the Parthenon. Yesterday I took a few hundred pictures of her and the surrounding old structures, while today was filled with more food, more people, a few more 2,000+ year old structures, and learning a whole lot more about the Acropolis at the new museum. Oh on a side note, if you buy the 12€ pass for getting in to the ancient sites in Athens, 1. it doesn’t work in the new museum (that’s a 5€ entry fee but worth it), and 2. don’t let anyone take the square picture accompanying the little tickets with a 12 on them — it invalidates it. Learned that the hard way.
At the museum, I learned that the Parthenon for the most part was left relatively untouched until sometime around the 5th century AD the Christians converted it to a church, and removed the large statue of Athena and took it to Constantinople where it is believed to have been destroyed. After that, it survived relatively untouched for another 1,000 years when the Ottoman Turks took Athens, and converted the church to a Mosque. They were very respectful of the ancient temple, and did nothing to damage it, which many Europeans attested to after visiting. Unfortunately, in the 18th century when the Acropolis was being attacked by a Venetian and fired mortar rounds at the structure, which was being used by the Turks as an ammunition magazine. It largely destroyed the internal portions of the building and destroyed several pieces of the outside. Other portions of the structure were defaced or removed by looters, and one Earl of Elgin who took a good portion of the reliefs, and they are held in the British Museum, who ain’t given ‘em back.
For this trip, I’ve opted to ignore the islands surrounding Greece, as a day or two really feels like cheating on an experience to be savored at least a week. So Athens and I have become friends, and she’s shown me some great memories in the few days since my arrival. Tomorrow I shall pay a quick visit to Delphi, a quaint little village that should prove to be worth the 3 hour bus ride.