Athens – various old stuff

Athens is full of old stuff. You can’t help seeing it everywhere, and they can’t help but finding it every time they want to build something. As a result, there are quite a few museums of old stuff, or places to wander around ruins. In fact, I’m sure you could just start building a museum anywhere and by the time you’d finished the foundations you’d have found enough to fill the museum anyway.

So, we saw museums, and ruins, and probably even some ruins of museums. Who knows. Some of them had vague promises of being open one day, or at least getting some exhibits togther. There was an admission fee for most of the old monuments, but since a 12 euro ticket covered all the main ones (including the Acropolis) and lasted for 5 days it was hardly a big lay-out. If you’re really a cheapskate then you could just stand outside the gate and look in for free; most things are so big that they need to be seen from afar anyway. Certainly the forum was interesting from the outside alone.

The Panathenaic Stadium, which isn’t actually an old thing but is a reconstruction of something old. You can’t get into it though.

At one end of the Panathenaic Stadium, with the Olympic Rings. Although impressive I’m not sure it’s used for anything and apparently the curves in the running track are too tight for modern races. I’m sure “It’s a Knockout” could make use of it, though.

There were quite a few Byzantine churches around Athens. This one had an interesting belltower separate from the main body of the church:

A view of a Byzantine church inside the area of the Roman Forum:

The ruins of the gateway to the forum on a cloudy day:

The forum gateway on a much nicer day:

Inside the forum:

One of the many column capitals inside the forum grounds. A lot of the buildings have collapsed over time but there are fairly intact pieces still remaining:

The porch of the church inside the forum:

The ceiling of the church porch inside the forum area:

Ann at the forum:

One of the ancient carving things in the excellent National Archeological Museum, which I think was from Neolithic times. To me it looked like a Newcastle United supporter:

And one of the more amusing reliefs of two men being interrupted by a horse with an important message:

Another quaint little Byzantine church:

A view of the Temple of Hierocles from the direction of the Acropolis:

The east front of the Temple of Hierocles from inside the Agora complex:

One of the more interesting finds being a “wild” tortoise (if a tortoise can ever be described as wild) inside the grounds of the Agora:

The Temple of Hierocles is one of the best preserved in Athens and quite photogenic with it, particularly shown nestled within the greenery around the Agora:

It’s still impressive close-up:

The ceiling of Temple of Hierocles:

Even though the temple isn’t particularly high up there are still good views around and through:

A column showing some wear and tear:

The Temple of Heirocles in all its glory:

The main market building of the Agora is a reconstruction, and quite impressive too. There’s a small(ish) museum inside which, I have to admit, I didn’t pay too much attention too. I’d seen far too many old pots by this point so I just sat outside and admired the view for 10 minutes:

A column capital inside the Agora:

On the other side of the Acropolis from the Temple of Heirocles is Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The temple apparently took quite a few hundred years to build, mainly because no-one could be bothered, it seemed. (And why did we doubt the Olympics would be ready?) It wasn’t until Hadrian came along that it was topped off and he also had an arch built for himself, shown below:

The temple must have been particularly impressive in its time as it was certainly the largest around. Only a handful of columns remain and even they’re impressive enough:

This photo with Ann standing near one gives you an idea of just how big they are:

The temple with the Acropolis in the background:

Capital columns and the frieze:

A few columns stand alone or in pairs. I’ve no idea how half of it could fall down without bringing the rest with it, but I’m glad there’s something left to see:

One of the last columns to collapse during a storm in the 19th century. Personally, the fact that a column hang around for the best part of 2000 years and then decided to fall over suddenly makes me slightly anxious about hanging around them on a windy day. This one also reminded me of an opened pack of rolos

So those are all the ancient monument warm-up acts out of the way. But, of course, the crowing glory of Athens is certainly the Acopolis itself. Don’t worry, I’m coming to it soon enough. It’s getting a whole post to itself.

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