Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I've got to finish posting pictures of our trip. I'm almost done--a few more posts to go. Bear with me! (By the way, I'm saving the Acropolis, the crown of Athens, for my final post.)

While I expected to see the great Parthenon on the Acropolis, I was quite unprepared for the number of ruins spread all around the city of Athens. Our guide told us that it is pretty much impossible to build because every time a building foundation is dug, another set of ruins is uncovered, and then of course the new construction has to stop. That might explain the lack of skyscrapers in Athens. The tallest building in Athens is 689 feet (just a little more than half the size of the Empire State Building), and the NEXT tallest building is about half of THAT. In fact, there are only five buildings in Athens with over twenty floors. Amazing! And that's in a city this size:
On the other hand, there were ruins everywhere, and in various stages of restoration. I always thought that the Parthenon and other such iconic ruins had more or less withstood the ravages of time. Silly me. I was surprised to learn that major restoration work has been going on since the 1800s and will no doubt continue for another century or more.

The remains of the Forum and Agora (marketplace) built during the Roman period:
The colossal Temple of Zeus. Construction started in the 6th century B.C., but it wasn't finished until Hadrian's reign in the 2nd century A.D.:
I loved the Corinthian capitals on the columns:
Fallen giants:

Hadrian's Arch:

And good ol' Hadrian himself, a little worse for the wear of 19 centuries:

Hadrian's Library, built in A.D. 142 by the Emperor Hadrian:

Random ruins amid apartment buildings:

The spectacular Temple of Hephaestus, the best-preserved of all the ancient Greek temples, completed around 415 B.C.:Front view. Note the simpler Doric columns:
The interior frieze:
I always thought that columns were one single piece of stone carved out of some massive rock. I finally get how it works!

COMING UP: Christianity in Athens


  1. These ruins are amazing! I can't imagine what it's like to see them in person.

  2. Chris, start planning now for your 35th anniversary!

  3. Wow. I learn something new on all your posts--ALL the columns are in pieces? Beautiful places there. The classicists were on to something in their architecture--simple lines, good details.