Athens, Greece – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
[The parliament guards in their uniforms]
Athens Greece is a place with a long history and many stories to tell. From all the Greek mythology, it holds to the ancient buildings still standing up right, Athens is a must see of Europe. When my travel companions and I arrived and Greece we were so excited for some warmer weather, especially since Minnesota has been having warmer weather than us over here in Ireland. We were in for disappointment though. Out of our four days that we were able to spending in Greece, three of them saw heavy rainfall. It was clear that this weather was not something that occurred a lot in Greece because the water seemed to flood the streets with nowhere to go. Even with the heavy rainfall, we forged ahead with on our venture through Athens and saw some of the most iconic sights in Greece.
The first stop on our journey was the Acropolis. Many people don’t realize that the Acropolis isn’t just one sight, it is actually several all clumped together. The Parthenon, the old Temple of Athena Nike, the new Temple of Athena Nike, the Odeon of Herod the Atticus, the Theater of Dionysus, the Propylaea and the Erechtheion all make up the Acropolis. Most of these ruins sit on a hill and from the street below the only building one can see clearly is the Parthenon. The view of the Parthenon from that angle has become a staple of Athens.
[A photograph of the museum floor showing the area below it]
Walking through the Acropolis itself, you could feel the history surrounding you. Enveloping you into a bubble that takes you back to a very different time. A time when the people of Greece worshiped the many gods found in Greek mythology. You could see how badly they wanted the gods to like the temples they built for worshiping them through the many detailed works of art within them. Today many of the structures are no longer sound so you are not able to actually walk through them, however, the contents that used to be housed within these temples are now safely housed in the nearby Acropolis museum. After walking through the Acropolis in the pouring rain we were happy to finally reach shelter within the museum.
Not only was the museum itself filled with amazing sculptures and pottery but it also happened to be built on an archaeological site. Many of the floors throughout the ground floor of the museum actually allow you to look below at what it was like to live in ancient Greece. All of the statutes in the museum come from the many different temples in the Acropolis, they also have old pans, plates, bowls and other daily living items that were found near and inside the Acropolis. The museum allowed us a look into the reality of the lives of those who lived long ago.
[A view of the Acropolis from the street]
After the Acropolis museum, we strolled through the National Gardens on our way to see the Parliament building. When walking through the gardens we found an odd zoo like area. There weren’t any exotic animals, but there were several different types of birds, a few long-horned goats, bunnies and even some ducks. We were quite confused by this find. The animals seemed very out of place. But instead of pondering it for too long, we decided to continue on our way. The national gardens were beautiful, even though many of the flowers had yet to bloom. There were many palm trees and orange trees scattered throughout the park. I had never seen an orange tree before so that was pretty exciting to me.
Once we made it all the way through the garden we stepped out on the side walk and were met with an odd view. There was a group of men that were dressed up in some kind of uniform. It wasn’t until later that I would realize that they are the guards of Parliament. They seemed very out of place, marching down a side walk that wasn’t even in view of the parliament building. Walking a little further down the side walk we realized that we really weren’t that far away from it. The parliament building didn’t look like anything special except for the fact that it was so heavily guarded.
[The parliament building]
It was getting late in the day and we knew there was one more thing we wanted to do before heading back to our Airbnb in residential Athens. We wanted to hike to the top of Filopappou Hill. From the ground the task looked daunting but we needed to pack in as many sights as we could because we knew the next two days would be spent mostly on looking for a beach and shopping in the many markets. There was one other thing driving us up that hill too: curiosity. From the Acropolis, we could see something on the top of the hill but we were too far away to see what it was so we decided to find out ourselves.
There were many paths up the hill. One that involved stairs and one that didn’t. At the time, I didn’t know that the path with the stairs was actually a much shorter path and that fact alone lead me to choose to go up the stair-less path. The path that I chose turned out to be the scenic path, so none of us were complaining. There were several parts of the path that looked out over the city in its entirety and as cliché as it sounds, it truly was breath taking. When we finally made it up to the top, we were greeted by a touring monument dedicated Greek poets. It was well worth the hike to the top.
[The Filopappos Monument on top of the hill]
As I looked out from the hill top across the city, I was struck with how lucky I was to be seeing this view. Athens has so much history and it is impossible to see everything in three days. But I did know one thing for sure: I was going to see as much as I possibly could in the short amount of time that I had been given in that city.
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14 responses to “Athens, Greece – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports”
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It appears that you took full advantage of the historical monuments that are scattered throughout Athens. I think it is wonderful that you and your classmates took the time to seek out these important parts of the city, and understanding some of the history that lies behind it. I find it strange as well that there was so much rain during your visit, because when I picture Athens I see glistening waters reflecting off sunshine. Regardless, you made the most of your trip to the city! I am curious though if most of the places you toured in Athens, if you were able to physically walk through any of them? Or were they all closed off? Great article!
The trip to Athens sounds like it was a fun time even though the weather wasn’t the best. I’ve always been fascinated by picture of Greece because of how old and historical the building look with the pillars in front of them. Seeing the Acropolis must have been exciting with all the history and important events that have taken place in that area. I enjoyed the story about taking the longer path. Sometimes it is better to take the long trail and it seems like it was a good choice because of the scenic views. I hope the weather warms up and starts cooperating so the trip can be even more enjoyable.
Thanks for sharing, Victoria. I have always wanted to travel to Greece. What a wonderful opportunity that was for you, even if the weather was not the best. Learning about history from a textbook has never been very exciting to me because I am more of a visual learner. So, it must have been very interesting to learn about the history of the Acropolis by actually getting to see it and walk around the museum. Aside from being fun, traveling can also be a very educational experience, which I am sure you understand since you are traveling abroad. I am so glad that you had the chance to see everything you could. Enjoy the rest of your trip!
I am glad to know that you had an awesome time! We are currently presenting and listening to presentations and one of the recurring themes is storytelling and ancient artifacts or myths. Your experience is one of many that have targeted the above well. In many cultures across the universe, art has always been implemented into our lives one way or another. Whether it be writing, drawing, music or storytelling, we as humans use art as a way to document and share our lives. You also did a fine job describing the locations that you traveled to! Thank you.
What made you guys visit Greece? Pure curiosity or some particular reason? I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Greece and how beautiful the country is. Greece is such an interesting country, especially with how much history the country holds, especially Athens! It’s neat that you were able to see so much of their Greek mythology displayed throughout the city. They clearly still hold onto that piece of the history rather tightly. It is great that you still enjoyed your time even if the weather wasn’t wonderful. Were you able to find a beach to go to, or did the weather stop you guys from going? I’ve heard beaches there are absolutely beautiful!
Greece is one city I would love to see one day. Three days is a short amount of time but any amount of time in Greece I feel is well worth it! When you were describing how you guys trucked through the weather sounds like Minnesotans to me, nice job! I liked how you described all the different places you saw and all the pictures you took. The amount of history that you took in must have been over whelming. I didn’t know that Acropolis was several different sights in one spot. I hope the the two other days were full if fun.
I really appreciate the way you set up your adventures in Athens. I felt as if I was there along for the trip in a third person kind of way! The views are surely picturesque in every direction, especially from the Acropolis and Filopappou Hill. I like the way you compared these spectacles to the Parliment building. The brief excursion sounds like it was quite the time. I hope you enjoy the rest of your semester in Ireland!
Thank you for sharing your experience in Athens. Athens is one place that I would love to go because of the History that surrounds that city. Like you said at the end it is almost impossible to see all of the Historical sites in one day that is why you need to pack a lot into the itinerary or visit multiple times. I was glad to read that you guys didn’t let the rain ruin your time in Greece and even had some adventures that were fulled by curiosity. Why did you guys pick Greece? Was anyone returning or were you guys all fairly new to the Greek life? Did you guys stay in Athens or did you guys try to visit other cities in Greece? Great Article!
Just by the name, it sounds so sophisticated, ancient and beautiful, but also big making it hard to see everything in three days just like you said. I can only imagine how guarded the parliament would have been, which is something I think is interesting because here you know the white house is guarded, but you do not quite see it from the outside. In other countries though the presence of the military or the guard are quite known and the people are aware not to try any attack to that house. I wonder how if there was any elevation based on their locations and if that may have added to the experience of your hike. I am glad you could experience this and share with us as it was an amazing experience from your tale.
To start off, I appreciated how you stressed the diversity of Acropolis, shining light on the fact that it is more than one single tourist stop.While the image of the Parthenon- as you said- has become the staple angle from which to view the area, there are so many more structures and stories that built the community. This, I think, is one of the most important lessons to pull when someone is traveling abroad… You go to see the “staple sights,” and end up immersed in a vast and beautiful place that is so much deeper than the postcard image you expect.
It must have been wonderful to walk the same paths as people who came centuries before you, and to gather an idea of how they lived (especially as you did in the museum). Experiences like that- especially when we look back in time and see structures very similar to our own- do a great job of connecting us to the people who came before us.
Athens seems like an amazing city that has so much history behind it and you touched on so many of the things within that. You saw the old parts of it, the government, the religious statues and other things covering such a wide range of different things. I think that studying abroad can increase your perspective so much and it is amazing that you had the opportunity to go to Athens and experience all of Greece’s amazing beauty. It would be incredible to see all of the different old ruins. What was your favorite?
I was excited to read about your experiences in Athens. I have personally never been to Greece but it is on my bucket list of places to travel to. I can’t imagine how beautiful it is to see such ancient buildings. I previously did not know the Acropolis is several different sites so it was nice to learn new information. It is simply amazing to know and see such historic sites and how significant they were and still are to the cultures surrounding them. Greek mythology has always been fascinating. It seems a complex belief system with so many gods each who represent different aspects of nature and life.
This concept reminds me of the chapter I am currently reading in “Worlds Together, Worlds Apart” by Tignor et al. (2018). We are discussing the beginnings of universal religions in 300-600 CE. When Rome fell in the West invasions began occurring and the Roman culture and world seemed to fail as a result. As Tignor et al. explained, the Romans united with other non-Romans for their common enemy. Christianity was also on the rise at this point in time and soon gave a sense of unity. Romans and non-Romans alike found belonging in the Catholic Church and later an institution that they, along side western Europeans, felt unity in (p.287, 2018). The beginning of this Catholic Church took hold in Rome and soon after it became the spiritual capital for the religion. This is when bishops of Rome began taking the role as popes and symbols of the church (p.287, 2018).
It is amazing to see the buildings and cities in which such significant and historic religions rose. I am further amazed at how prosperous many of these religions still are today. I hope some day I can travel to the Acropolis in Athens and also historic places such as the Vatican in Rome. What a great traveling experience you had, it was fun to read about!