Ancient ruins

The Athens Mini Tour

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A few lucky foreign students get a tour of the Acropolis.

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Hadrians’ Library

Romanagora

The Roman Agora

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In the distance is the ‘The Tower of the Winds’ below the Parthenon.

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A mosque built by the Ottomans below the Parthenon. Now it is a museum.

It’s always fun to go downtown at the beginning of tourist season when the weather  is warmer and the sun is shining. It makes my camera very happy. I think I took 100 photos! So many things to capture, from the people enjoying their stroll or the others at the coffee shops or restaurants, to the old buildings and the much older temples, nothing escapes my eye.

Ancient Cemetery/Αρχαίο Νεκροταφείο

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cemetarytext3It is not unusual, in an ancient city like Athens, to come across a cemetery  with open tombs. This ancient cemetery is  located in one of the most beautiful squares in downtown Athens called ‘Plateia Kotzia’ (Πλατεία Κοτζιά). The buildings at the square are neoclassical from the 19th Century and they are a wonderful contrast to the ancient grave site.

Ancient Healing

The site of Aesculapius at Epidaurus in Peloponnese was the most important healing center in the ancient Greek and Roman world. The site’s beautiful nature and the therapeutic springs attracted many people from afar and were thought be helpful in healing the patients of their ailments.  There were many temples that were considered  masterpieces and where medicine was practiced. One of the temples was dedicated to Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, and another was dedicated to Aesclipius, the Greek god of medicine. The temples since that time have been devastated by many earthquakes and invaders so like Ancient Olympia there are only a few columns still standing. However, the ancient Epidaurus theatre just a few feet away and is in great condition, so it is still a great place to visit.  I would have love to have seen how it was originally it must have been an incredible place to visit.

The Temple of Poseidon/Ο Ναος του Ποσειδωνα

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There is a lot of graffiti from over a century ago. If you zoom in you at the top you can see Lord Byron’s’ name.

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touriststextThe temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio is a beautiful spot at the southern tip of Attica. It has one the greatest views of the sea I have seen in Greece. It is no wonder then that it was such a significant strategic point for the ancient Athenians who, from this point, could control the sea passage to the Aegean sea and Piraeus and Lavrion Peninsula.  Poseidon, the God of the sea, protected the ships in the Mediterranean. Seafarers would come to the temple and make animal sacrifices or give gifts in exchange for a safe sea voyage.

The Tower of the Winds /Ο πύργος των ανέμων

The Wind Tower

The Wind TowerThe tower of the winds or the ‘Horologion (timepiece) of  Andronikos of Kyrrhos’ was built by Macedonian Astronomer Andronikos in 50 B.C.  There are eight figures carved out on each side,  and each figure represents the eight different wind gods. The North wind is ‘Boreas’, the Northeast ‘Kaikias’, the Southeast ‘Apeliotes’, the East is ‘Eurus’, the South is ‘Notus’, the Southwest is ‘Livas’, the West is ‘Zephyros’, and the Northwest is ‘Skiron’. The octagonal structure has a sundial on the outside and a water clock on the inside.  In ancient times, there was a bronze statue of Triton holding a rod in his hand. Triton is a Greek god and messenger of the sea, and he is the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite – the god and goddess of the sea.  Triton would move in different directions from the wind. This is where the idea for weather vanes came from. The tower  had various uses over time and is one of the best preserved structures in the area.

Ο πύργος των ανέμων ή το «Ωρολόγιον (ρολόι) του Ανδρόνικου του Kyrrhos» χτίστηκε από τον Μακεδονικό αστρονόμο Ανδρόνικο το 50 π.Χ. Υπάρχουν οκτώ στοιχεία σε κάθε πλευρά, και κάθε εικόνα αντιπροσωπεύει τις οκτώ διαφορετικούς θεούς του ανέμου. Ο Βοριάς είναι ο ‘Βορέας’, ο Βορειοανατολικά ο ‘Καικίας’, η Νοτιοανατολική ο ‘Apeliotes’, η Ανατολή είναι ο ‘Εύρος’, ο Νότος, η ΝΔ είναι ο Λίβας, η Δύση είναι ο ‘Ζέφυρος’ και η Βορειοδυτικά είναι ο ‘Σκίρων’. Η οκταγωνική δομή έχει ένα ηλιακό ρολόι στο εξωτερικό και ένα ρολόι ύδατος στο εσωτερικό. Στην αρχαιότητα, υπήρχε ενα χάλκινο άγαλμα του Τρίτωνα κρατώντας μια ράβδο στο χέρι του. Ο Τρίτωνας είναι ένας Έλληνας θεός και ο αγγελιοφόρος της θάλασσας, και είναι ο γιος του Ποσειδώνα και Ἀμφιτρίτη- το θεό και θεά της θάλασσας. Ο Τρίτωνας  κινούταν σε διαφορετικές κατευθύνσεις από τον άνεμο. Η σύγχρονη πτερύγια καιρού προήλθε από αυτή την ιδέα. Ο πύργος είχε διάφορες χρήσεις με τη πάροδο του χρόνου και είναι ένα από τα καλύτερα διατηρημένα κτίσματα στην περιοχή.

The Ancient Ruins of Olympia

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Archaeologists at work close to the entrance of the site.

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Archaeologists uncovered a gymnasium 186 meters in length dating back to the 3rd & 4th Century A.D

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The many tourists at the archaeological site

The many tourists at the archaeological site

The Entrance to the Stadium for the Athletes

The Entrance to the Stadium for the Athletes

The Ancient Stadium. The judges sat on the right.

The Ancient Stadium. The judges sat on the right where the stones are.

This is the first time that I visited the archaeological site (Altis) at ancient Olympia. I have driven by the site many times to visit my mothers’ village. I even went to the museum, but I did not have the opportunity to visit the site where the gymnasiums were. This was where the athletes would train for the games.  I remember back in the summer of 2004, when Athens was hosting the Olympic games, and sitting on the grass of the ancient stadium with other spectators from around the world. We were waiting for the priestess to light the torch in the gymnasium area. It was a cloudy morning and all of a sudden the sun came out and the torch was lit. It was an experience that I will never forget.

Walking through the site I was a bit disheartening to see everything in ruins. It’s hard to imagine how the site looked like back then. Despite being in ruins the site was very beautiful and tranquil.

Methoni Castle/Το Κάστρο της Μεθώνης

 

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The bridge to leading to the castle

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Creepy hidden passageway

My next stop on my tour of the southern Peloponnese is a small town called ‘Methoni’ which is located in Messinia in the west coast part of the Peloponnese. The town of Methoni is famous for its’ medieval castle (Game of Thrones style) which might be in ruins now,  but it is still awe-inspiring.  The climb to the top offers a spectacular view of the sea and of the town with its red tile roofs.  The site was known in Homeric times as it was called ‘Pedasus’.  Homer called the site “ampeloessa” (of vine leaves) in the Iliad.  In 1209 A.D the Venetians built the castle as it was the ideal spot for trade.   Due to its strategic location between Venice and the Holy Lands, Methoni was conquered by many people. The castle was conquered by the Franks and the Venetians and even pirates and then it went into the hands of the Turks in the 18th Century and then back into the hands of the Greeks in the 19th Century.

When I went there was no one there so there was no entrance fee and I roamed freely with just a few tourists scattered around. I took a lot of photographs and it was very difficult to choose the right ones for this blog. Some photographs I felt were better in black and white, but I didn’t want them all to be black and white, even though it was  cloudy that day, there was some good light and the colourful landscape showed up well in the photographs.

Underground City/Υπόγεια Πόλη

Entrance at Zara

Ancient Stone Structure

The ancient city of Athens is littered with ruins. The famous of all ruins, the Acropolis,  is the most visible of all. But, there are buildings underneath our feet that many people do not know are there. Although I know that the ruins are everywhere, especially in the downtown area, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw some ruins at the entrance of the clothing store Zara at Panepistimiou Street. At the entrance and underneath a large sheet of plexiglass is what appears to be a stone archway of a home or some other structure. I didn’t notice it when I walked in but when I walked out I saw it and I took some photographs.

Η αρχαία πόλη της Αθήνας είναι γεμάτη με ερείπια. Το διάσημο από όλα τα ερείπια, την Ακρόπολη, είναι το πιο ορατό από όλους. Αλλά, υπάρχουν κτίρια κάτω από τα πόδια μας, ότι πολλοί άνθρωποι δεν γνωρίζουν ότι υπάρχουν. Αν και ξέρω ότι τα ερείπια είναι παντού, ειδικά στο κέντρο της πόλης, εξεπλάγην ευχάριστα όταν είδα κάποια ερείπια στην είσοδο του καταστήματος ενδυμάτων Zara στην οδό Πανεπιστημίου. Στην είσοδο και κάτω από ένα μεγάλο φύλλο του πλεξιγκλάς είναι αυτό που φαίνεται να είναι μια πέτρινη καμάρα ενός σπιτιού ή κάποια άλλη δομή. Εγώ δεν το προσέξει αυτό, όταν μπήκα μέσα, αλλά όταν μπήκα έξω το είδα και πήρα μερικές φωτογραφίες.