Athens – Traveling through time in Europe’s oldest capital
Even the second time that I went to Athens I was totally fascinated!
I am one of those strange people who didn’t only have Latin at school but Ancient Greek as well. It wasn’t because I really wanted to learn that language. Nope, I just completely refused to learn French when I had to decide between those two languages. So I started learning Ancient Green when I was 14.
A school trip to Greece
I think it was in 2004 when we did a two-weeks-trip to Greece with all my class mates that had chosen as well to study Ancient Greek. By bus we went through Austria and Italy to Ancona and took a ship that would bring us over night to Patras. It was so exciting!
The trip obviously included a stop in Athens! We couldn’t leave out the capital of the new and the ancient Greece.
When I was standing at the Acropolis for the second time – 29, two university degrees and living the digital nomad lifestyle- I couldn’t help but seeing my 17 year old me – super blond and a real rebel. I remember well how we were standing in sun, sweating and listing to the tour guide. I could almost see myself standing infront of the Erechtheion – with hurting feet from all the walking, unpatient but curious at the same time.
It was a strange feeling to stand in front of the Parthenon again and to think about what happened since last time 12 years back in time. My last years at school, the 7 years studying at university and my life as a digital nomad, a life of travels and with my work as a travel blogger.
The weekend in Athens after my week on Coboat turned out to make me travel through time twice!
Because at the same time I was trying to remember all the details of what I learned during my studies of Archeology at school and at university where I studied it as a minor subject.
So I was standing at the Acropolis with my dear nomad friends Anca and Adrian and they wanted to know more about the history of this place. It turned out that the signs weren’t really helpful since they wouldn’t explain the technical terms. That’s why I started explaining:
Athens and the Acropolis
Although the settlements started in the New Stone Age (around 7500 BC), Athens had the time of prosperity just during the Classical Antiquity in the 5th and 4th Century BC. When Socrates and Platon were strolling over the Acropolis, the ago of the philosophers, artists and thinkers.
“Acropolis” means nothing else than “high city” and during the ancient times every city needed to have one. The Acropolis of Athens though became kind of the symbol of all acropolises. That’s why people always think of the Acropolis of Athens if you just talk about the acropolis. It’s World Heritage of the UNESCO.
In the center of attention of the Acropolis of Athens is the most important temple – the Parthenon, the sanctuary of the patron saint and goddess Pallas Athena Parthenos. It got destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC and they Greeks needed to rebuild it. Since then it had a 12 meters statue of Athena, made of gold and ivory. Unfortunately she got destroyed in the 6th Century.
Our dear friend Pausanias
I remember very well how Mister Herr Krauskopf – my Ancient Greek teacher at school – repeated as often as possible:
“Whenever something could lost or destroyed, we still have our dear old friend Pausanias, who is describing in his travel books all the art works and places that he saw – in an extremely detailed manner which is almost bringing them back to life.”
That’s why we know even today how the statue of Pallas Athene in the inside of the Parthenon looked like:
„The statue is created with ivory and gold. On the middle of her helmet is likeness of the Sphinx … and on either side of the helmet are griffins in relief. … The statue of Athena is upright, with a tunic reaching to the feet, and on her breast the head of Medusa is worked in ivory. She holds a statue of Victory that is approx. Four cubits high, and in the other hand a spear; at her feet lies a shield and near the spear is a serpent. This serpent would be Erichthonius. On the pedestal is the birth of Pandora in relief.“
When I am at those kind of places with a lot of history, I can’t help myself but touching the things, closing my eyes and imagining what this column, this wall or this building has seen and lived. I imagine what story from ancient times it would whisper if it could.
I did that in Palenque for example. Between the many trees and the half covered Maya ruins I really needed to do that. Do you know that feeling?
The Theatre Dionysos
I remembered the entrance to be on the other side. In my memory we have seen the Theatre of Dyonisos in the end and not in the beginning.
I tried to remember what I had learned: The Theatre of Dionysos was the birthplace of theatre in general. This is where the greek tragedies of Sophocles, Aeschylos and Euripides had there premieres. I was telling Anca and Adrian about Dionysos, the god of plays and wine, and about the theatre’s function of the catharsis, a purification.
I translated them es well words like Stoa into understandable English. I couldn’t believe that signs said those terms without explaining the meaning. So everybody knows what a Stoa is? People are supposed to know that it was nothing than a big hall or a walkway surrounded by columns in the very beginning. I explained Anca and Adrian that later the school of Stoicism was founded in the Stoa in Athens wich is why their name derives from the word Stoa. The reason is because they met here talking about their philosophical ideas.That’s why later a Stoa wasn’t only considered a walkway with columns but a school like place to learn and study philosophy.
The rest of the Acropolis
I simply enjoyed the rest of the Acropolis with the temples, columns and steles and just tried to let this experience sink. That’s why I want to invite you to do the same with showing you the photos.
In the end, just some minutes before it was time to go back to the modern city and to the here and now, I took the time to admire the beautiful view and landscape.
That’s how my trip through the time in Europe’s oldest capital ended and how I got back to the year 2016. In a certain way it was a catharsis in the sense of a purification while seeing a greek tragedy Although I traveled through the time only in my head. Nevertheless I grew a bit in those few hours!
Did you ever travel through time while being on the road? I am looking forward to your answers!
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