Athens: Atop the Awe-Inspiring Acropolis

In undergrad, I majored in history, and the first two history classes I ever took were about Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Perhaps that’s why, then, I feel a particular twinge of awe when I stand inside Rome’s Colosseum or atop Athens’s Acropolis. I am a complete history dork, and experiencing the places that are the cradle of Western civilization? Well, that’s just amazing.

I had visited Athens once before. When I returned to Greece last fall, the focus of my trip was the dreamy island paradise of Santorini. However, I couldn’t resist stopping in Athens for a few days; the lure of all that history was simply too much to pass up.

I began at the Acropolis Museum. Fun fact: I last visited Athens in summer 2008, at which point this museum didn’t even exist! Finally opened in 2009, the Acropolis Museum is a real gem. The space itself is stunning – so light and airy – and the collection second to none. I wished I had budgeted even more time to spend here, as there’s an awful lot to see.

To avoid crowds, I visited the museum first and waited to hike up to the Acropolis in the early evening. This turned out to be the right choice, as it was relatively quiet and the light also happened to be gorgeous at that time.

One slightly disappointing thing about my visit? The Parthenon was obscured by a lot of scaffolding at the time. I think these days, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find some part of it under construction whenever you visit, but it was sad to see the entire front facade obstructed.

My favorite structure on the Acropolis is probably the Erechtheion, which features the beautiful Porch of the Caryatids:

^^ I mean, do you see what I mean about that early evening light? Magical.

The Bottom Line: The Acropolis is an absolute must see. I recommend an end of the day visit: fewer crowds, less sweltering heat, and a soft evening light that even the gods would marvel at.

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