The Agora and more main sites of Athens


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October 1st 2013
Published: October 1st 2017
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Geo: 37.9792, 23.7166

Slept in until after 8am, then reviewed a few emails. Had breakfast upstairs, this time with the windows closed. It was raining outside, and people were carrying umbrellas. By the time we finished brekkies and email, the rain had stopped, so we ventured out onto the wet pavement.

Our day began with a visit to Hadrian's Library. With few ruins beyond the foundations of the buildings, it is not much to look at, but we did really like the remains of the statue of Nike, preserved in one of the sheds.

From Hadrian's Library, we went to the Agora. At this point, the sun started to emerge. The agora was interesting, although, again, few actual structures remain. The middle (?) stoa has been rebuilt and houses the museum. We started at the most modern period and worked our way back to Archaic. I think museums should all be designed this way, instead of the reverse. Start with what is most familiar, then gradually pull away to reveal where it all began. It makes so much more sense to me. It may be more reductionist, but it is less causal … and it contextualizes things well. The thing I found most amusing in the museum was that people were not allowed to stand behind the statue, as if their head was the missing head. Even if they were three feet away from the statue, they would be told not to take photos behind. Very odd.

We wandered through much of the rest of the Agora, through olive trees and a few ruins. There was a lovely little Greek-cross church, which we went inside to see the murals. Up on the hill stands a large temple that had been, at some point, converted to a church, The building is mostly intact … interestingly, the interior flat roof was replaced by a barrel vault when it became a church.

From the Agora, we walked first to look at Keramikas through the fence, then up the Pnyx, where we received a beautiful view of the Acropolis. The Pnyx itself is not terribly interesting, although it is nice to stand in a place and think, "This is sort of the birth place of democracy in the Western world, or at least the way we acknowledge it. Socrates was imprisoned over there. For thinking differently."

From the Pnyx, we walked down to the entrance of the Acropolis, then climbed the nearby hill, with its slippery stones. Again, the view was quite nice, and the breeze … for it had turned into a hot day … offered some comfort. Then further down the hill, to lunch. Kebob.

After lunch, we walked to see if the Roman Agora was open, as it was getting late. It did not seem to be open, so we continued along the road until we decided to stop for coffee. People watching was quite fun. The cafes and shops are all busy, and not just with tourists, so it is a little hard imagine Greece as a country in crisis. The police are out in large numbers, but mostly lounging in groups, and not looking very concerned at all.

We returned briefly to the hotel to rest (and work), then went out again in the evening for dinner. We had spotted a crepe sellers near one of the squares, so we returned to that for take-away crepes. Nummy. The most amusing sight this evening: a three-card monty set up near the Monastriki metro station. They had a small table, with a battery-powered lantern illuminating the cards. When we passed one way, a couple was watching, looking as if they were considering playing. One man was running the show, and two additional men were talking or playing. When we returned the other way, a few minutes later, they suddenly snapped up the cards, shut off their lantern, and dispersed, leaving the table behind. We thought, “the police must be coming.” And, sure enough, three officers, who we had seen smoking and drinking coffee just around the corner, sauntered down the street. It was all very amusing, but we kept thinking how odd it was that someone could still make a living with that old game. Surely every knows the fix is in?

We stopped for drinks, then returned to the hotel so I could take a phone call (which lasted about 2 hours). Then, to bed. Late.

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