Sunjet.gif (2233 bytes)Acropolis

norway1.gif (248 bytes) Norsk utgave (Norwegian edition) norway1.gif (248 bytes)

When one arrives in Athens for the first time, something remarkable happens. The eyes are automatically pulled towards the high rock that is situated right in the middle of the city. This rock is called Acropolis. Here lie spectacular ancient buildings that were built 400 years b.c. The sight is truly impressive, especially at night, when the whole rock is flooded in light. One becomes deferential considering what the Greek people accomplished over 2500 years ago. How would it have been to arrive here when these buildings were new and complete, in great colours, surrounded by magnificent sculptures? At the time, without the grey and dull concrete buildings that characterise the city centre today, and without the smog that is now common, it must have been fantastic.

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Parthenonseen seen from east.

Well, it is still impressive, even if one easily recognises the effect of time on the buildings. They are constantly being restored, and large areas of the Acropolis plateau and buildings are blocked off to prevent further damage from thousands of feet every day. The best time to visit Acropolis is in the morning, as soon as the site opens. Then it is still not so hot, because it does become really hot during the day, due to both the air temperature and the heat experienced when crowding with thousands of other tourists. It can also be okay to visit just before closing time.

The acropolis plateau consists of the rock that is elevated right up from the surrounding landscape. The height of the rock is between 60 and 100m, varying with the source used. Perhaps it is 60 metres high lying 100 metres above sea level? The plateau is 270 m long and 156 m wide.

Acropolis was easy to defend due to its natural shape, and its natural water supply made it easier for people to persevere. It has been used as a fortress at all times, even by the British fighting the communists in 1944. The plateau contains the ruins of many buildings. All of these buildings deserve a page each, but I will only include the largest and most famous, because they are so well described elsewhere on the net.

The most dominating building is the Parthenon temple. Seeing this for the first time is really impressive. A French author has named the temple "the worlds most perfect poem in stone". The construction of the temple started in the year 447 b.c. It is built in marble, and is 70 m long and 31 m wide, consisting of 46 columns that are 10,5 m high. There are no straight lines. The columns are wider mid way up than at the bottom. At the same time they are inclining slightly inwards. The floor is also vaulting. All in all it is an architectural and mathematical masterpiece. The ratio 4:9 is repeatedly being used throughout the building. First, between length and width. Then between the shortest side inside and the height of the ceiling, and between the diameter of the columns and the distance between them.

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Erechteion seen from east.

The Erechteion temple is situated on the opposite side of the Parthenon, to the North. This is a lot smaller than the Parthenon. It is a complex of three smaller temples. Most people would notice the 6 columns that hold the ceiling of one of the small buildings. These columns are made as maiden figures and are unbelievably beautiful.

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The two theatres situated on the south side of Acropolis are both beautiful and impressing. The entrance is also impressing, it is now a confusion of columns in different styles. When I see the old worn steps, I keep thinking of all the people, who have walked here before me, it can’t be few! Up on the plateau, one has a fantastic view over Athens. Unfortunately, the smog is also all too visible, which literally corrodes the buildings on the Acropolis height. Because of this, the height can resemble a construction site, with big scaffoldings all over the place.

Back to Athens Further on to How to travel from Athens Airport to centre of Athens and to Pireaus and Rafina
Back to Island Strolling in Greece
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Thanks to Erik Robertstad, Tønsberg, Norway for his translation into English!
Jan Bergtun, 17. october 1999 Updated, 09.24.2011
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