The Acropolis of Athens, One of the Seven Wonders of the New World.
No trip to capital of Greece is complete without a visit to the famous Parthenon at the top of the Acropolis of Athens. Built in the centre on top of a high sacred mountain it was designed as a temple to protect and give power to its people. It has become one of the new 7 wonders of the world and is shrouded in history. An architect’s dream, this amazing building is full of wonder even to the uncultured. I defy anyone to climb to the top and not be amazed by the scale and structure, the breath taking views and wonder of a civilization past.
As we fall into the uncultured band of tourist we split our visit here into two days covering the museum one afternoon and the acropolis the following evening. With two teenage boys in tow this proved the best way for them to appreciate what they were seeing without having a cultural overload in the heat of July.
The Museum for the Acropolis of Athens.
We are lucky enough to have plenty of family and friends in Athens and had travelled in from our holiday base in Kaffisia to meet up with cousins for lunch in the city. They became our tour guides for the afternoon. They recommended doing the museum first given it was the middle of the day and very hot outside. The modern building had benefited from much EU funding and was state of the art, beautifully kept and presented with plentiful air conditioning. Even the approach oozed sophistication with its modern look walking over clear floors with ancient ruins visible beneath us.
Once inside the building stretches over several floors and could easily take you a full day to fully explore. You can book a guided tour which might be advisable, or if you go it alone there are plenty of plaques in English to explain all that you are seeing. We felt very lucky to have our own local family guides and followed obediently round.
I was really pleased we had visited the museum first, as it set my expectations and improved my understanding of what to look out for the following day climbing up to the old Parthenon. My understanding was embarrassingly lacking before the visit. I hadn’t even realised that most ancient Greek cities had an acropolis and that it was the temple at the top, the Parthenon, that was special to Athens. By visiting the museum we saw how the statues had progressed over time, increasing in their movement and characteristics in later years. We learned of the invasions, the missing pieces adorning the UK museums and of the tools and weapons used in each era. Decorative reconstructions of sections of the columns and top of the Parthenon were truly impressive. There were no cameras allowed inside so I can only share the views from the cafe terrace on the first floor where we stepped out to appreciate the view up to the Parthenon.
The Parthenon at the Acropolis of Athens.
We returned the following evening to scale the acropolis and visit the site of the Parthenon. Even though it was gone 6pm the heat of the day was till intense. Walking up was hard going but there are plenty of opportunities to rest on the way and take in the view.
I totally hand it to my 80 year old Mother in Law who made it all the way up with us; it gave the boys no excuse to complain about the heat. Having visited the museum beforehand I felt much more knowledgeable about what I was seeing, if somewhat guilty for the missing pieces adorning the British museums. The early evening sun was perfect for photos and showed the Parthenon off to its best.
Even the kids agreed to the odd photo at the top being totally in awe of their surroundings
Tips for visiting the Museum and Acropolis at Athens.
Take refuge from the midday heat by visiting the museum in the middle of the day.
It is worth doing a little research first to know what to look out for or at least visit the museum ahead of climbing the acropolis.
There is a lovely clean cafe in the museum open to the outside with stunning views to break your visit.
Prices for the museum are a bargain at 5 Euros.
The museum is open from 8am to between 3 and 7pm in high summer but I recommend going in the middle of the day to escape the heat and enjoy their air conditioning.
Prices to go up the acropolis of Athens and visit the Parthenon is £20 Euros for an adult. Student, child (under 16) and OAP discounts are available. For another 10 euros you can have a week’s access to other local archaeological sites of interest too.
Wear shoes with a good grip climbing the acropolis, the marble is worn shiny and slippery in places at the top and we all found ourselves slipping at times.
It is open 8am to 8pm in high season but there is no access after 7.30pm. We arrived just after 6pm and needed the best part of the 2 hours.
Go early or late to avoid the intense heat of the day when visiting in summer.
Be warned, the toilets at the bottom close at 4pm, we found ourselves wandering off into a cafe before taking our tour.
I totally recommend a visit to the acropolis of Athens and the Museum and hope to take my younger children when they are old enough to appreciate the trip.
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