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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

If The Acropolis Is The Crown of Athens - The Crown Jewel Is The Parthenon

Lulu and I walked up the Acropolis this morning to see the Parthenon.

When the bombers flew from England to bomb Germany - the pilot would tell the crew on the way to the target - now we are working for  Uncle Sam. After the bombs were dropped - he would remind the crew that they were flying now for themselves. The first few days of our journey were to get Lulu to her conference to do her work for FSU - today her work is complete - and now our time is our own.

We got up early this Wednesday morning - had breakfast on our hotel roof - and tried to get to the Acropolis before the sun got too high for good pictures and too hot for walking. We hiked from tree shadow to tree shadow trying to avoid the harsh sun rays. The cruise ships just arrived in Athens - and there were organized tours slowing things down. The Acropolis is not handicap or gray head friendly - just lots of old steps - in various sizes and states of repair. 

The top was more crowded than when I visited it alone the other day. The sun was a little lower which made me hope we would have better lighting for pictures. 

There are basically 4 buildings left on the Acropolis - 5 if you count the old museum which is now closed. There was a work crew patching the Parthenon - all work was being done by hand.

The Parthenon was built to honor Athena Parthenos - Athena the Virgin. She was the number one god in 450BC when Pericles commissioned Phidias to design and construct the temple. It has survived through many hardships and religions. It was one time a mosque - another time it was a Catholic Church shrine to the Virgin Mary. I guess they were particular to virgins :-)

I keep getting this fact goofed up - let me try again. In 1687 - when Greece was occupied by the Turks - the Venetians laid siege on the city. The Turks kept their gunpowder in the Parthenon - new meaning to the term - high and dry. A well placed Venetian cannon ball hit dead center - and virtually destroyed the building. The roof was blown off and the two long side destroyed. Still - on the plaque in front of the building it says - the worst damage of all occurred in 1801 when the Turks allowed Lord Elgin of Scotland to cherry pick the sculptures from the pediment and frieze. Elgin "bought" them for his home in Scotland - but he later sold them to the British Museum. 

Every summer - when we spend July in London - we walk a few yards to the British Museum in the evening - to quietly look at the Elgin Marbles. Here in Greece - they are called the Parthenon Sculptures. They have built a new museum and have displays built with empty spots to display the sculptures when they get them back. Personally we love to see them when we visit London - but ethically - I think they should be returned to Athens. 

The Brits have a point - if they gave the Marbles back to Greece - soon Egypt would be asking for their stolen stuff back as would the the Italians - and all the other people from the other countries that Britain overran. The British claim they did it to preserve them for the Greeks.

We are lounging by the pool as I write - in the shade and breeze it is wonderful. It is a time to reflect on our trip - and capture the feelings of visiting one of the world's greatest cultural sites - the Temple to honor Athena Parthenos.

It was pretty crowded up there - with tour groups from the cruise ships. Note the Caryatid Porch on the Erecthium.

Work crews work every day - mostly by hand repairing the Parthenon.

It was about 9 AM but the sun was already high and hot.

When we took these pictures it was very crowded - we are surprised how empty it looks.

This panorama shows a bit of the crowds.

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