The Acropolis (which translates to hilltop.) Crowned by the Parthenon. Stands high above Athens, visible from almost every point in the city. It became my landmark--a way to find my way in the crazy busy city of winding streets and racing cars. And even in the heat, or in the midst of being totally lost, I look up and the Acropolis takes my breath away.
This amazing ancient monument, built by architect Pericles in the Mycenaean period, was dedicated to the goddess Athena. Walking through its grandeur, I'm reminded of the continuous struggle here in Greece. Reduced to ashes by the Persians in 480 BC, Pericles rebuilt, transforming the Acropolis into an iconic city of temples. Destroyed again in the 17th century when Venetians attacked the Turks. The Turks opened fire onto the Parthenon, which is where they stored their gunpowder. A massive explosion, of course, followed by a two-day blaze.
Now, as I walk through this amazing site--we still see the effects of foreign occupation, pilfering, earthquakes, and the black stains upon marble caused from industrial and car pollution. There's scaffolding everywhere. Part of me feels that these reminders take me out of the experience, they pull me out of mystic ancient Greece. But the reconstruction and dedication to preserving this World Heritage site reminds me of how Greece continues to rebuild and overcome.
The strength and perseverance of the Greek people stands tall in the Iconic columns of the Temple of Athena Nike. It surrounds the arena and theater (where Dudamel actually conducted on night we were there, and I could hear the orchestra and cheers filtering through the streets.) This power shines through the Parthenon, the largest Doric temple ever built. And within the 12 meter- high statue of Athena that once stood there. A breast of gold, a small statue of Nike (goddess of victory) in one hand and a spear in the other. When I think Athena, I think of today's Greece-and even in economic struggle, and I believe her wisdom, grace and beauty will go forth. Here, I stand at the top of the world. With pink parasols, cuddly street dogs, and over a hundred steps.
The Acropolis. And I know it's so.
(thank you Jeremy for your Acropolis at sunrise shots)