The cities with a deeply rooted history and culture seem to have a different energy and vibration. A perfect example in this regard is Athens, the metropolis which displays a strong contrast between old and new.
It is true that the city has gone through major changes during the centuries, but somehow it managed to preserve its authenticity.
The historical center of Athens can be considered an open-air museum thanks to the multitude of remains that can be admired there.
The place that perfectly portraits the energy of the glorious past of Athens is definitely the Acropolis. The Holy Rock of Athens, as the Acropolis is called, rises majestically in the heart of the city and is considered the most important symbol of the Greek ancient culture. This fortified citadel is blessed with 21 important remains of Greek temples, edifices and buildings.
My favorite places and also the most well-preserved in the entire complex are: the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Propylaia, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.
1.The Parthenon is a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, who is considered the patroness of Athens. This cultural monument is the most significant edifice of the Ancient Greece that still stands today. Displaying features of both Doric and Ionic architectural styles, the entire sanctuary is surrounded by massive columns and it is considered a fine example of Greek architecture.
The Parthenon had a tumultuous history and it passed through several stages during the centuries. For example the edifice used to serve as a treasury of the Delian League and later it became the symbol of the Athenian Empire. In the 5th century CE it was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and after the Ottoman conquest it was turned into a mosque. It is definitely a surprisingly interesting evolution.
2.The Erechtheion is also an ancient temple dedicated to Athena and Poseidon. Displaying an interesting and complex design, with a lot of Ionic architectural details, this temple is in my opinion the most beautiful and the best preserved in the entire area. My favorite part of this temple is the famous Porch of the Caryatids. Also named the Porch of the Maidens, this interesting structure has six support columns designed as six female figures.
As well as the Parthenon, the Erechtheion went through a tumultuous evolution over time. It used to be a church in the Byzantine period, a palace in the Frankish period and the residence of the Turkish commander’s harem in the Ottoman period.
3.The Propylaia is the monumental gateway to the Acropolis of Athens or the main entrance to this sacred place. This structure consists of a number of rooms and gates which are linked with porticos and stairs. Surrounded by massive columns and walls and displaying a blend between the Doric and Ionic architectural styles, the Propylaia was considered one of the most innovative buildings of the Classical Antiquity.
It was the only building that survived the Greek, the Roman and the Byzantine periods. The Propylaia used to serve as the palace of the Acciaioli family during the period of the Duchy of Athens.
4.The Temple of Athena Nike is a small temple named after the Greek goddess with the same name. The temple was actually built in order to worship Athena as the goddess of victory and wisdom. The name Nike means victory in Greek.
Situated on the right side of the Propylaia, this is the first structure which was entirely built in the Ionic architectural style. The temple was surrounded by a railing covered with different architectural motifs representing Athena’s life. The original fragments of the frieze that used to decorate the temple are now exposed in the British Museum and the Acropolis Museum.
5.Another interesting building situated in this complex is the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. As the name suggests, this theater was built by Herodes Atticus in the memory of his wife Aspasia Annia Regilla.
Built on a steep slope, in the shape of an amphitheater, the original theater had three stone walls and a wooden roof and it was used as a stage for music concerts. The remains of the Herodeon, as it is also called, host nowadays different outdoor music concerts and theatre performances. It seems that this building hasn’t lost its main purpose.
To conclude, in case you haven’t visited the Acropolis yet you should definitely plan a trip there. This will be a great opportunity to admire the remains of the most important Greek temples, edifices and buildings.