Athens, Greece

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I have always
wanted to visit
and now that wish has come true! Thank You, Lord!

This morning we
had an 8:30 AM start time for our tour of Athens.  After having two sea days, I was looking
forward to some time off the ship.

From this point on, with the exception of Santorini, most of our tours will focus on some of the most famous ancient ruins in the world including religious sites, fortifications and entire cities. I am so thankful to all the historians, archaeologists and anthropologists who have made it possible for modern civilizations to see these amazing sites.

Today we took a
walking tour through historical Athens.  We walked and climbed stairs all day. My
friend Bruce wears a pedometer and when we stopped for lunch, we had already
walked over 10,000 steps (mostly uphill)! It’s a good thing I’m in such stellar
athletic condition.


The first stop
on our tour was a visit to the Metro Museum where we saw some interesting artifacts from
the daily life of ancient Athens.
They were found during the construction of the metro.

Next, we walked
to the Parliament building where we watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is permanently guarded by Evzones, members of the presidential guard in traditional attire – foustanella.  The foustanella was worn by the Greek revolutionaries who fought the independence war against the Turkish between 1821 and 1830. It consists of a skirt with 400 pleats (the number of years of Turkish rule), shirts with long sleeves, and red pointed shoes with large pompons.

Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Athens.

From there, we
saw a small portion of the National
and Zappeion Hall.  Zappeion Hall was built in the late 1800’s and was the first building to be erected specifically for the revival of the Olympic Games in the modern world.

National Garden.

Zappeion Hall.

Next was the Temple of Zeus which has a long history dating back to the 6th century BC through the 2nd century AD. Can you imagine? Over the following centuries, the temple was quarried to provide building materials for other projects. Today only fifteen of the original 104 columns are still standing and a sixteenth column lies on the ground where it fell during a storm in 1852. Nothing remains of the cella or the statue of Zeus that it once housed.

Temple of Zeus, Athens.
See the hill in the background? We walked all the way to the top!
Temple of Zeus, Athens.
Temple of Zeus from the Acropolis.
See the column on the ground?

Continuing on, we walked through the Plaka district on our way to the Acropolis of Athens.  The Plaka is a collection of streets housing mostly shops and cafes and some residential areas directly below the Acropolis. The Plaka was built ON TOP of the residential areas of the ancient town of Athens! 

The Acropolis is an ancient citadel located on a high rocky hill containing the remains of several historical buildings including the Parthenon, Propylaia, Erectheion, Temple of Athena Nike, the Theater of Dionysus Eleuthereus, and Odeon of Herodes Atticus. All of these sites were spectacular and it would take hours to describe them all.

Theater of Dionysus Eleuthereus.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus.
Scott in front of the Parthenon, Athens.
Parthenon, Athens.
Bruce enjoying the view of modern day Athens.

I was especially interested in seeing the Aeropagus (Romanized to Mars Hill) which is where the Apostle Paul is said to have delivered his speech to the people of Athens in Acts 17:24:

“Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.”

I was in awe to be standing in biblical history!

Mars Hill, Athens.

Tonight is the
first time I have felt the ocean under me. The sea was rolling and the waves
were big. We watched the white caps of the waves through the window in the
dining room and as we made our way to the evening’s activities everyone was
swaying and holding on to the handrails. It was fun but scary. Tonight we will
all be rocked to sleep. Hope no one is sea-sick.

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