In February this year I visited Athens for a couple of days in my bid to visit the 27 EU countries before the UK leaves. I only had a couple of days there and sought advice from my friends on what to do. Two locations stood out from all the suggestions I got, one of which came with quite specific visiting advice. I followed this and feel it’s important to pass on:
Visit the Acropolis. Get there when it opens.
There is no way I would have been able to take the picture of the view over Athens by the time I left the site – school and tourist busses had arrived and the walkways were never this empty.
Although I had obviously seen many pictures of the Parthenon and the general site, walking around these ruins is still quite spectacular. There is a lot of information on the restoration and archaeological work underway and it seems to be an endless task to review all the bits of fallen stone, establish where they come from and where to put them. Some missing parts have been replaced with modern materials although you never know, in 10 years someone may determine that one of the un-placed bits of stone is actually the piece that had been replaced by cement.
A section of the site I hadn’t been aware of before visiting were the two theatres on the side of the hill. The theatre of Dionysus is considered the first theatre ever and was only really uncovered in the second half of the 19th century. It provides an original record of what theatre seating could have been like in ancient Greece.
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus was restored in the 1950s and is now used for concerts during the summer, which I suspect are very atmospheric.
The views over the city and towards the mountains from the Acropolis site make it clear why it was chosen as the site at which to worship gods. Much of what is now built up will of course at the time have been farmland rather than city!
Looking over to the south west from the Acropolis, you can see the monument of Philopappos on its own hill. On leaving the Acropolis (I spent around 2 hours there in total), I walked up to that monument from where I got an excellent view of the Parthenon and other temples and the mountains behind.