Travel Guides: Greece Part 2
The most visited city in Greece is Athens, of course, the state capital. With a population of 3.3 million people, Athens is the economic, financial, industrial, political and cultural center of Greece. The city has taken a considerable momentum on the road to becoming the biggest business center in the European Union.
Ancient Athens was a powerful city-state and also a center of art, study and philosophy, the place where Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum were. Many politicians, philosophers and writers of the ancient times were born here. Among them include: Socrates, Sophocles, Pericles. Athens is regarded as the cradle of Western civilization and the place where democracy was born, mainly because of the impact that cultural and political achievements gained in the fifth century and fourth century BC had to the rest of Europe.
Classical era heritage is still visible in the city because of ancient monuments and art objects, the most impressive being the Parthenon from the Acropolis. Acropolis is a flat stone block, which rises 150 meters above the sea in the city of Athens. Acropolis was also known as Cecropia, after the legendary serpent-man Kekrops (or Cecrops), the first Athenian king. Parthenon is a temple to the goddess of Athens and was built in the fifth century BC on the Acropolis rock in Athens.
It is the most important building which has survived from the period of ancient Greece considered the culmination of the Doric architectural style. Its decorative statues are some of the most important masterpieces of Greek art. The Parthenon is regarded as a symbol of ancient Greece and of Athenian democracy, is one of the greatest monuments of the world and was introduced together with the Acropolis remains protected by the UNESCO list.
The Parthenon replaced an older temple of Athena, the Parthenon or Pre-old Parthenon, which was destroyed during the Persian invasion in 480 BC. Like most Greek temples, the Parthenon was used as treasurer. In the sixth century the Parthenon became a Christian church dedicated to Virgin Mary. After the Ottoman conquest was converted into a mosque (early 1460). In 1806 Thomas Bruce, seventh Duke of Elgin, took the sculptures from the Parthenon to England after an agreement with the Ottomans. They were sold to the British Museum in 1816.
The Greek government still struggles to return it to their country, but so far without any success. Around the Acropolis and Plaka there are a few ruins, some other Greek novels. There are also found some very interesting museums, including the Benaki National Museum. From Athens are organized one day trips to Delphi, Sounion, Meteora, Nafplio and the Argolis.
If you are left with some free time you visit the Attica zoo opened in May 2001, and after the Acropolis is probably the most interesting place to see Athens as it has an impressive collection of exotic animals are well cared for and also third place regarding the variety of birds. Although some heavens were once isolated from the rest of the world, the monasteries of Meteora attract thousands of visitors today. Various monasteries are open on different days to allow the monks in monasteries still working – so you should inquire in advance what you can visit.
If you have a certain monastery on the list it would be good to confirm if it is open. Some of them have even been turned into museums. You like to climb stairs? It would be good, because many of the monasteries are accessible only after climbing quite many which can only be done on foot. Holy Monastery of St. Stephen is the most accessible and less accessible to the Holy Trinity. Get ready for the day aching legs after the climb.
How to get to Meteora – Many travel agencies offer tours of 3 or 4 days which includes Meteora as one of the destinations. But these tours are usually only between May and October, and if you want to visit Meteora outside this period would be best to go by car. Museum of Prehistoric Thira – The name might bring to mind notions of Neanderthal (or other cavemen), but the reality is completely different. This modern museum is full of objects from the Bronze Age Akrotiri (buried city) and other places on the island of Santorini.
If you really want to visit Akrotiri, a stop at the Museum of Prehistoric Thira is essential. The old city was emptied of all treasures, and you can find them now in the museum. You now understand the ancient site and the old people so much better. It is called Fira, Thera, Thira or Phir? Santorini‘s main town has preserved one of the island’s ancient names. Unfortunately, there is a consensus on the name, so you may see any name of Fira, Thera, Thira or Phir.
More about the museum: it depends on how much you usually pay for visiting a museum, but a comfortable time is approximately 40 minutes. However, if you are used to read all the descriptions it is best to be prepared to spend about an hour or two in the museum.
A normal ticket costs 5 Euro, but the best would be to get a special ticket of 8 euro that allows entry in Akrotiri, Thira Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Prehistoric Thira in the ancient city from the Roman era.
Oracle of Dodona – Temples and oracles are very popular in Greece and are very visited by tourists looking for photo opportunities, not the understanding of ancient cultures. Dodona (Dodoni sometimes called) is a welcome change from the rest of the oracles, who apparently is still dominated by the magic of ancient times. Dodoni mountain valley is about 22 kilometers south west of Ioannina, over a winding road with a beautiful view of the province of Epirus.
Dodona is the oldest city in Epirus, where it is said to have appeared first in this part of world civilization. That may sound like an exaggeration to get there. People loved the Goddess of Earth over 5000 years in this place. Later, a tree grew in this place, appearing as adulation and worship trees. Goddess later took a name, Dione, and eventually a husband: Zeus. The latter was names with oaks, lightning and eagles living in these valleys.
In Greek mythology, Dione is the mother goddess of love, Aphrodite, and some of her famous daughters more character can be felt here: a fun-loving and playful quality that brings to life like thick walls of the theater.11