Acropolis



User Rating:


Address:

Acropolis, Athens 116 36, Greece

Phone:

+30 210 321 0219

Strenuousness:

Moderate

NileGuide Expert tip:

You need at least an hour to see the site. To have the place to yourself, go just at the hour of opening or past the hour of five in the summer and any time throughout the winter. Between the hours of 9 and 3, the site is mobbed by cruise ship passengers, large tour groups, and schools.

Description:

Quite possibly the most famous symbol of Athens, if not all of Greece, the Acropolis crowns the city and provides a romantic focal point amidst the modern-day noise and mess. The word "Acropolis" comes from "Acro" meaning "High" and "polis" meaning city.

History

The Acropolis
as we know it was masterminded by Pericles in the fifth century BC after the original Acropolis was burned to the ground by the Persian army. The sacred rock was dedicated to the goddess Athena since Neolithic times, but was also used as a gathering place during times of danger due to its strategic positioning. The rebuilt grouping of temples, framed by the Propylaea, or gateway, was intended to be a testament to human achievement and unique in the world in their beauty. They include the demure Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheum or Erechtheion, hallmarked by the Porch of Caryatids (maidens) and the queen of them all, the Parthenon. The Parthenon and the Propylaea were completed first, in under ten years. The temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheum were built after the death of Pericles.

In the centuries that followed, the sacred rock was used as a church, a fortress, a mosque, an arsenal, and pillaged frequently by invaders and travelers taking advantage of the instability of the Ottoman-occupied city throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The most famous of these looters was the English Lord Elgin whose grand booty is the source of a modern day controversy between the British Museum and the Greek State, who have been asking for their treasures back for the last thirty years. The New Acropolis Museum, located across from the entrance to the Dionysos Theatre, was partly created to provide a home for the artifacts. There is still no official word of their being returned to Greece.

Visiting the Sacred Rock of the Acropolis

It is one of the most memorable things you can do while in Athens, and you're sure to note the absence of ropes or glass, bringing you up close and personal with one of the greatest works of art in the Western hemisphere. Get inspired by the great humans that walked there before, the history that happened after, the mystical rumors of being aligned with the stars, or simply the breathtaking view of the city. It's a place that touches the heart of Athens and the Athenians. All of the site is encircled by a cobblestone pedestrian path, the streets of Dionysou Areopagitou and Apostolou Pavlou. Areopagitou street runs along the South slope and is where both entrances to the sites are located, the first just on the Theatre of Dionysos, the site of the festival dedicated to the god of wine, ecstasy and theater. The second is further up past the Roman-era Odeon of Herod Atticus, where the Athens Festival takes place every summer. Go up the steps or the ramp (a bit further) and you'll find the main gates.

All of these sites can be accessed with the €12 admission of the Acropolis, as well as the Temple of Zeus, Keramikos Cemetery, Roman Agora and Ancient Agora.

What's Around the Acropolis

Facing the Acropolis are Pnyx, Areopagos and Philopappou hills which offer commanding views over the city. Areopagos Hill is the site of a famous sermon from St. Paul to the Athenians. Opposite the Acropolis is the unique Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry museum. Plaka, the oldest neighborhood of Athens, sprawls out at the base of the Acropolis rock. Delve in to explore its quaint streets and shops or spend an hour walking through the Ancient Agora.

Necessary Information for Visiting the Acropolis:

Admission

€12 except for minors. Teenagers under 19 should carry an ID to prove their age.
Seniors are not offered a discounted rate unless members of the EU.
Journalists and Government officials are granted free admission.

Days the site is free of admission

All Sundays between November 1st and March 31st. After that, the first Sunday of every month except July, August and September (peak season.)
All Greek national holidays ~ all religious holidays of the Greek Orthodox Church including Easter Monday and Tuesday as well as the Monday after Pentecost.
March 6 ~ Melina Mercouri Day
April 18 ~ International Monuments Day
May 18 ~ International Monuments Day
June 5 ~ International Environment Day
September 27 ~ International Tourism Day
The last weekend of September ~ European Heritage Days

And most spectacular is the annual late-night opening for the full moon of August, an event that is usually accompanied with live music and theatrical events.

Hours
Winter (November 1 - March 31) 8:30am - 3:30 pm
Summer (April 1- October 31) 8am - 7:30pm except Mondays 11am - 7:30pm

Amenities

Both upper and lower entrances offer water fountains and toilets before entering the site. There are no opportunities once on the site. A small snack bar is just outside the upper entrance, though the prices are high and the quality poor. If you can, wait to refresh yourself with things found in the adjacent neighborhood of Thission or along Makriyannis, the road connected to Areopagitou.

A lift entrance is offered to those in a wheelchair. Ask the official at the upper entrance for assistance.

Words of Caution and Greek Reality

Please use caution while on the site, which is entirely out of marble that can be incredibly slippery! Those with limited mobility might have trouble, though it's certainly possible to see everything if you take your time and move carefully.

Be on guard for pickpockets. Keep phones, wallets, and money in places that are difficult for the nimblest of hands if not completely under your clothes.

There might be a number of vendors of cheap novelty gifts and/or umbrellas, fans, bottles of water. These are mostly illegal immigrants who are routinely chased off by the police. As of now there is no law penalizing those who patronize them but it has been discussed.

The Scaffolding

Try not to be too disappointed when you get to the Acropolis and find most of the temples surrounded by scaffolding. They are part of a restoration and conservation effort that will keep the site strong for generations to come. The Parthenon was temporarily scaffold-free in the summer of 2010, but since November is being worked on again for an indefinite period of time.

The Strikes

Greece is a country known for expressing itself and being politically active. Should you arrive and there is a strike that has closed the entrance of the Acropolis, there is little that can be done. Go to  nearby Areopagos Hill and the area of Philapappou Hill for outstanding views of the Rock and history that's equal in importance. Neither are manned by ministry officials and therefore always open, and always free.

The Dogs

Those sun-loving mongrels you'll see lounging around the entrance, while stray, are typically friendly and laid back. Still, use caution when approaching one and don't reach toward it unless it's approached you first with a wagging tail. Under no circumstances should you inspect one that's sleeping. It isn't dead no matter how much it looks the contrary. We promise.

Map:



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