Friday, April 24, 2009. Our boat anchored in Piraeus. From there we took a taxi to take us into Athens and to give us a tour of the most important things to see. Athens is the capital of Greece, named in honor of the goddess Athena. We went directly to the Acropolis. The temple complex was regarded as a citadel of the gods.
One of the first ruins we saw were of the Amphitheater in the Acropolis, and shortly thereafter a sign informed us we were approaching the Propylaia, the gateway to the Acropolis. Constructed in 437-432 B.C., it consists of a central building and two lateral wings.
After going through this gateway, we could see the reason for being there, the Parthenon. It was indescribable, even though it is in ruins and surrounded by scaffolding. One can easily imagine what it must have been at its apogee. The view from there was magnificent, as wonderful as the Parthenon itself.
The Temple of the Caryatids was next. A caryatid was a female figure serving as an architectural support, taking the place of a column with an entablature on its head.
We left the Acropolis to go back to the city of Athens. On the way we passed by the Temple of Zeus.
We were amazed as we stopped in front of the ancient Olympic Stadium. It has been partially restored, to be used during the Olympic games in 2004, but many of its parts are the original structures, and they are still standing. Close your eyes and feel the Greek athletes performing there, hundreds of years ago.
The next stop was the Presidential Palace. We were lucky enough to witness the changing of the guard. The Greek soldiers have a very colorful uniform, and it was interesting to see them performed the maneuvers with military precision.
After that we drove towards the Plaka, a busy area downtown. On the way there we saw Adrian's Gate, which reminded me of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
Within the Plaka there is a Roman Agora, from when Rome had some of its citizens there.
There was a tower-like structure, named the Tower of the Winds.
Continuing our tour, we passed in front of the National Archeological Museum, the National Library, and the Athens Academy, as well as the Temple of Hephaestus, god of steel and fire.
Athens has a mixture of old and new structures, and we were aware of this when contrasting an old church in the Plaka with modern hotel buildings like the Hotel Grande Bretagne.
Too soon we had to leave Athens, getting ready to depart Greece and travel the Messina Strait on our way to Italy.