Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Greek Odyssey: part five.

We had spent the night prior in modern Delphi, but this morning it was time to get old school! Off to ancient Delphi!

Quick background: Delphi is the site of the ancient Oracle. The Oracle was sort of like a fortuneteller, except a person goes there to get advice on things. A priestess gives an answer, but the answer is more of a riddle than a concrete instruction. And, yeah. Told you that’d be quick.

The point is this: Delphi is sacred ground, and, thus, it was constructed by its ancient… constructors to convey this fact. That manifested in the creation of a very large mountain city, very high up, giving it almost an ethereal feel. It was no picnic getting up this mountainside – it was actually more of a hike than a walk up the hill – but the amazing views of the valley below made it worth it. Afterward, we visited the Delphi Archaeological Museum, one of the few establishments that allowed photos of its artifacts.

This is a track for the Delphi Games. :]

Fun fact: you wouldn't associate Greece with the woodlands, but the pine tree is one of the most prominent types there.

A shot of the Theatre of Dionysus from above. Pretty cool.

Details of a frieze.

A teeny pediment.

And finally we were off to our last destination of the Greek Odyssey… Athens. Oh, Athens. Did you know forty percent of Greece lives there? It’s a massive city inhabited by a lot of people. The entire country of Greece is struggling economically, as we all know, but Athens has seen the brunt of that, in my opinion. It’s dirty, peppered with assorted and abandoned building projects, covered in graffiti… And there’s no money to change that, really. Sad.

That’s not to say that Athens is all bad. By no means! We visited the Acropolis museum which was absolutely beautiful. It was filled with countless Athenian artifacts, but the best part was the manner in which the museum was constructed – directly over the ruins of ancient Athens! The floor is transparent which allows museum patrons to literally float above the city. Quite amazing. What’s kind of sad about the museum, or really just sad in general, is that a lot of important things are missing. When the Turkish occupied Greece, they aimed to destroy much of the culture; part of that resulted in them willingly handing over works of art and architecture to the British, who now house them in their own museums. Things like portions of the frieze that once bordered the Parthenon are missing from the Acropolis museum, but the Greeks have voiced their opinions on the matter by replacing the missing pieces with simple concrete reproductions as well as leaving open spaces for the artifacts that they hope to get back one day.

Afterward, we climbed up a massive slab of slippery stone called the Areopagus Hill situated under the Acropolis. The rock overlooks the Agora (back in the day it was basically the marketplace; now it offers countless restaurants) and the surrounding city. WOW! Athens is gigantic. It was amazing to be up there right before sunset. Athens, like any other place, looks perfect from far away.

The view of the Acropolis from the Areopagus Hill.

Creepy stalker photo of a couple I don't know. Just look at how gorgeous the colors were.

The view of Athens from the hill.

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