Travel: Vibrancy of Athens


2013-06-05 05.37.43Departing from the shadow of the Parthenon,  we climbed higher up the outcropping, where the Greek Flag proudly waved high above the city.

From here, we caught a great view  of the Temple of Zeus in the distance.


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Despite its current ruined state, this structure was once magnificent. As chief architect, Libon was charged with the intricate carving of the metopes and triglyph friezes. These were then  topped by pediments filled with sculptures in the Severe Style (now attributed to the “Olympia Master” and his studio).

This temple was the resting place of the Statue of Zeus, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Chryselephantine sculpture was made by the sculptor Phidias and approximately 13 m (43 ft) high It took him 12 years to complete it. On Zeus’s head was a sculpted wreath of olive sprays. He held a figure of Nike, the goddess of victory, made from ivory and gold in his right hand, and in his left hand, a scepter made with many kinds of metal, with an eagle perched on the top. His sandals were made of gold and so was his robe. His garments were carved with animals and with lilies. The throne was decorated with gold, precious stones, ebony, and ivory.

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The Erechtheum was encountered on our way down the slope.The current temple was built between 421 and 406 BC; It is surmised that the architect may have been Mnesicles, but it is known that the sculptor/mason was Phidias.

The namesake for this temple is derived from the theory that it was built in honor of the legendary king Erechtheus, who is referenced in Homer’s Iliad as a ruler of Athens during the Archaic Period.

An iconic view is the Porch of the Caryatids, more commonly known as the “Porch of Maidens” wherein six draped females are the supporting columns. This building is associated with some of the most holy relics of the Athenians, the  xoanon of Athena Poliasthe marks of Poseidon‘s trident and the salt water well, the sacred olive tree, and the burial places of the mythical kings Cecrops and Erechtheus, to name a few.

According to the myth, Athena’s sacred snake resided here. It was fed honey-cakes by Canephorae and when it refused to eat the cakes it was considered a disastrous omen.

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