Friday, Athens Tour!
New Years Eve
New Years Eve is the most important holiday in all of Greece aside from the religious significance of Christmas. The entire country shuts down for this. Their version of Santa comes on New Years Eve and it is traditional that all of the children take small musical instruments like drums and triangles which they play and sing to as they walk around the shops! The customers and shop keepers then gift them with small amounts of change. It was quite interesting to watch this custom in action.
This was the tour of the complete temple complex. There were lots of long high uneven steps which makes access a little difficult. Also, there is a lot of renovation and construction which makes photography difficult but not impossible. Today was great blue skies and bright light but since the stones are rust colored color photography still works fine. I split my time between both color and infrared. Watch your composition (as in all photography) to work around the scaffolding and large crowds. Sometimes we have to wait considerable time for a subject to clear from tourists even if only for a moment! Sometimes this never happens, just be patient.
Another great thing about the Acropolis is the fact that even though it closes down at dark, the city lights it up from all directions at night. Because it is on a hill top overlooking the city it is the center piece. The entire bluff is lighted and viewable both from below as well as from the city as well. We went up to the roof of our hotel (Apollo Hotel) which was only 6 stories tall but is noted as the best place in Athens to photograph the Acropolis. For this I setup with the Olympus E-P2 color camera on a tripod and a remote shutter release to take images some 20 seconds long. It was a lot of fun and if you ever visit make sure that you take some time for night time photography. Here are the results…
There are very nice gardens and shopping areas around the base of the Acropolis that are worth your time to visit and lots of good photographic locations!
The ruins themselves were divided into 5 distinct parts;
The Herodus Atticus Conservatoire: There was an ancient theater at the base of the Acropolis which was in very good repair and very pretty. You could look down upon this while atop of the bluff through walls filled with windows which make for interesting compositions. Clearly, given the time of day that we were there Infrared was the best way to go.
The Propylaea: which is the entrance to the entire site. This is where the large stone steps lead up to and then through several gates into the entire site! There is even a ramp access point for the ancient animals who were taken there for sacrifice.
The Parthenon: Converted by the Turks in 1460, this is perhaps the most striking structure in the Acropolis. It is here surrounded by mighty columns of marble that the friezes circumnavigated the entire building. They depicted life in ancient Greece of both man and god alike. Most of them are now gone and located in London, some are still in place and a few are located in the new Acropolis Museum. There are mighty modern machines of construction in and around the Parthenon. This makes photography here very difficult unless you are willing to document smaller portions of the entire assembly.
Temple Of Athena Nike: On the right hand side of the Propylaea the Temple Of Athena Nike rests. This is a delightful small temple dedicated to the goddess Athena Nike and is built entirely of Pentelic marble. Like the Parthenon, it is also surrounded by friezes of relief sculptures. Today, most have been replaced by cast replicas but it is still an amazing site and one easily photographed as there are no implements of construction anywhere near!
The Erechtheion Temple Of Athena and Poseidon: This temple built in the last years of the 5th century B.C is dedicated to Athena and Poseidon. Of all of the structures in the Acropolis, this is perhaps the best one for photographic study. You can totally walk around it unrestricted and there is currently not construction going on at all. It is surrounded by acres of pieces of marble columns which make for a great foreground subject when photographing the temple. The marble itself has a great rust/brown tint which makes for very interesting images!
This structure is known for its use of the Caryatids, 6 women in the life of Zeus who are depicted here in the use of pillars that support a side roof of the structure.
Brand new, just opened this month. Huge and well done. No photography is allowed! This place is more amazing due to the fact that it is built totally over an ancient housing dig that is currently under study by archeologists! There are glass floors that allow you to see down through the museum into the digs below.
Pretty cool with hundreds of small stores and cafe’s. This was the best place we found to shop in all of our Greek travels. Down the hill from the Acropolis but it was a long walk from it (1/4 mile). As it is directly under the Acropolis it offers lots of vantage points for photography. This is also one point to which we returned later next week for night time photography looking up at the bluff containing the Acropolis!
Big commercial harbor. Cool if you like big ships. due to is size we did not explore so I didn’t find any fishing boats but they are likely there somewhere. Bummer! What I did see for the short time we were there was plenty of ocean liners and old tramp freighters. The freighters do offer a little bit of colorful detail photography which I gladly partook of!
ICK, loud crowded with no restrooms in the stations. It is very inexpensive to use at 3 euros for 24 hours or 1 euro for 1 1/2 hour. You can get to most places the tourists generally visit. This is a VERY modern train system that screams automation. It was built not too long ago for the Olympics and is very well utilized by both tourists and locals alike. One of the more interesting places we visited was in the Government Square where at the current Parliament building lies the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier. Like us here in the US the Greek military keeps 2 guards on duty 24 hours a day, rain or shine. They dress in the uniform style of the early 1900’s and do a formal change of the guard every hour. It was most interesting to watch!