Although there are many in Greece, when someone mentions “The Acropolis” it is known that they are speaking of the Acropolis of Athens, the most famous in the world. Formally proclaimed the pre-eminent monument on the European Cultural Heritage list in 2007, the Acropolis was also inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1987. A city on a flat topped rock that rises 490 feet above sea level in Athens, the Acropolis is loaded with amazing ancient monuments. Since 1975 a project has been underway to restore and reverse the centuries of decay, wear and tear and damage from misguided past restorations. All restorations are being made using as much original material as possible along with titanium dowels so that it is completely reversible if future experts decide to change things.
The Acropolis is home to a plethora of monuments with over twenty different sites to take in, but its most famous has to be the Parthenon. Completed in 431 BC, the Parthenon was dedicated by the Athenians to Athena Parthenos, patron of their city. It is the greatest creation of the Athenian democracy at its peak of power and regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece. Sadly a majority of it was destroyed in 1687 by a Venetian mortar; the Ottoman Turks had fortified the Acropolis and used the Parthenon to store gunpowder, not the best idea. During the renovation, the Parthenon will not be restored to a pre-1687 state but as much of the explosion damage as possible will be repaired and restored. Another great site to see is the Erechtheion, an elegant building on the north side of the Acropolis that was built from 421-406 BC to replace an earlier temple. The building’s usual shape is due to the irregular terrain it is built on with up to a 10 foot height difference between the east and west parts. The Propylaia on the west side is where the gate of the Mycenaean fortification once stood. The Propylaia was built under direction of Athenian leader Pericles and construction spanned from 437-432 BC when construction was halted with it still unfinished. It has been partially restored and serves as the main entrance for the throngs of tourists who visit the area each day.
The Acropolis Museum is the newest structure on the mountain, having opened to the public in 2009. The museum was built to house all the valuable artifacts found on the archaeological sites. This popular attraction was visited by over 500,000 people in its first two months and is located on the southern slope about 300 yards from the Parthenon. The museum is closed on Mondays, open from 8 AM to 8 PM Tuesday through Sunday; general admission will run you about $6.50. Some other highlights of a visit are the Temple of Athena Nike, located on the southeast edge of the sacred rock. It was built between 426-421 BC and is the earliest Ionic temple on the Acropolis. Another really interesting thing about the Acropolis are the fortification walls. Because of its geographic location, the Acropolis has been used as a refuge for a very long time and remains of incredibly ancient walls are still visible throughout the area. Check out the “Cyclopean” wall, built around 1200 BC and still visible to the southeast of the Propylaia. The southern wall was rerected in 467 BC on orders of Kimon after the victory at Eurymedon.
Admission tickets to the Acropolis will cost you about $16 although admission is free on certain holidays and the first Sunday of each month except July, August and September. The Acropolis is the greatest sanctuary of ancient Athens and is truly a unique once in a lifetime experience.
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