Situated high in the centre of Athens, the Acropolis is visible from almost anywhere in the city, and to ensure this there are almost no skyscrapers in the city centre which could obstruct the view of the Athenian’s most prized possession. With a history which dates back to 447 BC and the Greek Emperor Pericles, the Acropolis is one of the last remaining reminders of the opulence which the classical world once possessed. Its impressive size and intricate design make it one of the world’s most prestigious monuments, but is it really as good as everyone says it is?
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the theatre of Dionysus
Upon entering the main gate to the acropolis, situated just below the Acropolis is the Theatre of Dionysus, an impressive theatre dedicated to the god of grapes and wine. Here you have the opportunity to sit on the rows where the crowd once may have sat and envisage yourself watching the works of some of the world’s greatest dramatists, including Sophocles, Aristophanes and Euripides who all performed here regularly. Following the Theatre of Dionysus, your climb takes you to the even more impressive Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Here you will be fortunate enough to experience a simply breath-taking vista of this archaic cinema, which once held host to over 5,000 people. The Odeon is far more recent than the Theatre of Dionysus and was built in 167 AD by the rich aristocrat Herodes Atticus in remembrance of his wife. The theatre was used mainly for music events, and although it cannot boast to have been the stage of such famous names as performed in the Dionysus, architecturally, it is far more impressive sight.
The Temple of Athena Nike and the Propylaea
When you make the climb from the Odeon to the Acropolis, you’re immediately confronted with the famous Propylaea gateway. The Propylaea, is built from Pentelic and Eleusinian marble, and was used to control who could come into the sanctuary of the gods. From the Propylaea steps you can get an awe-inspiring visage of the entire city, but it is the magnificent buildings which lay inside this awesome gateway that will really take your breath away. The Temple of Athena Nike is positioned just to the right of the Propylaea and is visible upon your entrance. This tetrastyle ionic temple is substantially smaller than the other buildings which feature in the Acropolis, but it is by no means less important as it was one of the most used temples during the Peloponnesian War, as Athenians would come to pray to Nike, the goddess of victory to help defeat their Spartan enemies.
The Erechtheion is my personal favourite of the ancient edifices which lie within the Acropolis. Built between 421 and 406 BC, the Erechtheion is officially dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon, although folklore dictates that it was built in honour of the legendary king Erechtheus who was said to have been buried nearby. The most notable part of the building is its northern porch of Caryatids; these beautifully sculpted maidens are so unique that in addition to being truly magnificent works of art, each slightly different, they are also an integral component in the building holding up the roof of the porch.
The Parthenon encapsulates the cultural opulence of the city
The Parthenon is an ancient temple dedicated to the city’s Eponymous goddess Athena. Legend states that in competition with Poseidon to become the patron of the Greek capital, Athena won the hearts of the Athenians with her gift of an olive tree – which was deemed to be greater than Poseidon’s gift of water. The temple is often regarded as the pinnacle of Doric architecture and is the symbol for classical Greece as well as of Western civilisation as a whole and it’s very easy to see why. The Parthenon’s precinct pillars still stand tall in the sky, and each pillar’s ionic construction can be considered as a piece of artwork in its own right and one can only help but marvel in respect and admiration for such an architecturally stunning and significant building.
Visit the Acropolis now!
The Acropolis truly is one of the most spectacular places in the world and I would implore you to get here as soon as possible! Unfortunately, centuries of damage destruction and looting have left many of the buildings only a shadow of their former glories, however, the Greek government has worked tirelessly on recovering as much as possible and it is all on display at the nearby Acropolis museum. Thus before your visit to the Acropolis, its namesake museum is a must visit so you can really appreciate and envisage the ancient citadel in all its former glory.
It is open from 08.00-19.00 and tickets cost 12 EUR (approx 12.80 USD) for adults, 6 EUR (approx 6.40 USD) for over 65s, and is free for children under 18 and students from EU countries (student card must be shown). All tickets are also then valid for free entry to: the Ancient Agora, the Museum of the Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Kerameikos, the Archeological Museum of Kerameikos, Hadrian’s Library and the Olympieion.
Get Trip101 in your inbox