Surviving the Acropolis
The Acropolis of Athens, just the name conjures images of myths and legends, gods and goddesses and an ancient, but impressively advanced civilization. The Athens Acropolis is probably the most important monument of the history of Western civilization. This over 2,500 year old crumbling monument has rested imposingly up on the hill since the 5th century BC when the Delphic oracle declared that the hill should be the province of the gods.
4,000 years ago, Ancient Greek Culture formed the birthplace of Western civilization producing many advancements in areas of science, philosophy and the arts that still influence our lives and sowed the seeds of democracy.
The main building and focal point of the eternal Acropolis, the Parthenon is the crown in a long list of spectacular Ancient Greek architectural achievements. The Acropolis is worth the hike up just to take in the majestic aerial views over the city of Athens.
So its no wonder over 1 million people come to Athens every year to bask in the timeless glory of the Acropolis so you really can’t expect to enjoy it all to yourself.
Tips for Surviving the Acropolis.
The gates to the Acropolis open at 8am to enjoy your Acropolis experience the most try to be there as soon as it opens to avoid the queues, the worst of the heat and the seething mass of cruise ship and coach tourists that descend en masse on the ancient monument.
Do your Research
Brushing up on your background knowledge of this significant monument and civilization before visiting will really enhance your visit. As awe inspired as it is to stand in the shadow of the mighty Acropolis overlooking the views of Athens, there is not much left of this crumbling ancient monument. To bring the history, significance and culture of the site to life visit the excellent New Acropolis Museum at the foot of the hill first. The excellent displays explain the importance of the building and the culture and religious beliefs that it represents. Most of the surviving statues from the Acropolis have been moved to the museum. For an deeper understanding and a great overview of Greek history in more detail a visit the National Archaeological Museum is also worthwhile.
Bring your Student Card
If you have a student card make sure you bring it to Greece, you can get free entry to many historical sites, museums and attractions all over Greece including free entry to the Acropolis, the New Acropolis Museum and National Archaeological Museum saving 24 Euros over the 3 sites.
More than the Acropolis
Athens has a lot more to offer than just the Acropolis and your entrance ticket also includes entrance into 5 other historical sites, including Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Keramikos, Temple of Olympian Zeus and Theatre of Dionysos. It’s really worth spending more time in Athens and making use of your ticket as most of the other sights are sparsely populated by tourists, unlike the tourist mania found at the Parthenon and Acropolis hill, giving you the peace and serenity to really appreciate these ancient wonders and imagine them alive with ancient but sophisticatedly advanced people and ponder the impressive feats of the ancient Greeks.
Protect yourself from the heat, it’s quite a long climb up the hill and theres not much shade, space to rest or places to buy water. Take a hat and sunscreen as protection from the sun and plenty of water, only water though because they will not allow other drinks inside for some reason. Also, wear decent shoes as well as there can be slippery surfaces.
Climb a Hill
Escape the bustle of the city and get a great view point of the Acropolis hill by ascending one of Athens hills, Filopappou Hill offers the best photo vantage points of the Acropolis and is a pleasant place to hang out. Lyksvittos Hill has a funicular railway, a cute church perched on top and also offers great panoramas of Athens.
Catch a Play
In the shadow of the Acropolis and overlooking the twinkling lights of the city of Athens, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus has to be one of the world’s most historical and atmospheric venues to see a performance. During the Hellenic and Athens festival performances are held at the historic theatre on Friday and Saturday nights in June, July and August and you can get tickets online in advance.