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Tag: Athens

Acropolis of Athens

The impressive Acropolis, one of the places we had on our bucket list, and now we had the opportunity to visit this historical landmark. We really love going to places off season. We had lovely weather, not too warm for us, and no crowds of sweaty tourists to be pushed around in. Tourist websites claim that  you can expect long queues to get in (two hours), but going here on a Sunday in January, like we did, was perfect – no queues whatsoever. We just went straight to the ticket office, which sells entrance tickets for half price during the winter season, as most museums in Athens do, and then we just walked straight up to the top.

Det imponerande Akropolis, en av de platser vi hade på vår “bucket list” och nu hade vi möjlighet att besöka det här historiska landmärket. Vi älskar verkligen att åka till ställen under lågsäsong. Vi hade underbart väder (inte för varmt) och inga folkmassor av svettiga turister vi behövde trängas med. Turistwebbplatser hävdar att du kan förvänta dig långa köer för att komma in (två timmar), men att gå hit på en söndag i januari, som vi gjorde, var perfekt – inga köer alls. Vi gick direkt till biljettkontoret, som säljer entrébiljetten till halva priset under vintersäsongen, vilket de flesta museer i Aten gör, och sedan vi gick bara rakt upp till toppen.

Finally here on top of Acropolis. Acropolis means highest, topmost or outermost city, and you’ll find Acropolis up on a hill surrounded by step cliffs, which was chosen for defense reasons.

The gates we passed through to enter Acropolis. There are documents confirming that people have been living in the area since the 6th millennium BC, but most of the landmarks seen here today are from the times after 500 BC.

It is said that the most important surviving building of Classical Greece is the Parthenon, a former temple built in the honor of goddess Athena, which stood finished 438 BC. The Parthenon was turned into a Christian church in the 6th century AD, and became a mosque in the early 1460s after the Ottoman Empire took over Athens. It has survived earthquakes and bombs, with severe damage, but the Parthenon has been reconstructed. Today a major renovation is going on after a poorly performed restoration in the 19th century.

The Erechtheion is an ancient temple built between 421 and 406 BC and was dedicated to Athena and Poseidon. The temple contains holy relics for old time Athenians. The story goes that the marks inside the temple are from Poseidon’s trident and the sacred olive tree (in front of the temple in the picture) sprouted when Athena struck the rock with her spear when she won over Poseidon in their battle for Acropolis.

You get a good view of Lycabettus hill on top of Acropolis, which is said to be leftovers after the goddess Athena built the Acropolis cliff.

More about Lycabettus hill can be read here.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus can be found on the south slope of Acropolis and it is an impressive stone theatre built in 161 AD (and renovated in 1950) by the Athenian magnate Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife Aspasia Annia Regilla. It had a capacity for 5,000 people.

The Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus is a marble stone theatre built at the foot of the south cliff of Acropolis and it was the first theatre ever built dating back to the 6th century BC. The theatre was dedicated to Dionysus, the god of plays and wine.

The ancient Athens’ biggest theatrical celebration, the Dionysia took place here. The Dionysia was a large festival in honor of the god Dionysus, where the central elements of the festival were a competition between dramatic tragedies. There was also a comedy competition category included in the festival from 487 BC .

The theatre was supposedly the birthplace of Greek tragedy.

The theatre could seat as many as 17,000 people and the rumor says that the theatre had excellent acoustics.

Among those who competed at the Dionysia festival and whose works have survived, were Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Menander. A replica of the statue of Menander stands next to the theatre today.

We found pieces of the old city here and there around the area.

But most statues stand under roofs in designated areas of Acropolis.

We had a lovely day at the Acropolis in Athens and we were glad that we had the possibility to come here and see this place with our own eyes.

We said good bye to Athens and Greece and went to another Southern European country, Spain.

The Byzantine Empire, Christianity and lovely Athens

The Byzantine and Christian Museum was on our to do list in Athens and we can highly recommend spending an afternoon here if you want to learn more about the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe during the first thousand years  of our western era. We had read about the museum beforehand and our awesome Airbnb-hosts also recommended the museum, so we had high expectations on our visit and we were not disappointed.

Museet “Byzantine and Christian Museum” var på vår att göra-lista i Aten och vi rekommenderar starkt att spendera en eftermiddag här om du vill lära dig mer om den starkaste ekonomiska, kulturella och militära kraften i Europa under de första tusen åren av vår västerländska tideräkning. Vi hade läst om museet på förhand och våra fantastiska Airbnb-värdar rekommenderade också museet, så vi hade höga förväntningar på besöket och vi blev inte besvikna.

The Byzantine and Christian Museum was recommended by our Airbnb-hosts. We wanted to learn more about the early days of Christianity, so why not acquire the knowledge in Athens.

The Byzantine Empire sprung from the fall of the Roman Empire during the 5th century AD. The Byzantine Empire is actually the surviving part of the Eastern Roman Empire. Its capital was Constantinople, which today is a part of Turkey, with the name changed to Istanbul. The Byzantine Empire existed for a thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

The Byzantine Empire was founded by Constantine I in the 3rd century AD, and Christianity was legalized and became the official religion in the empire. In the 6th century AD, the Byzantine Empire switched from Latin to Greek as their official language.

There where different sections covering art, culture, everyday life, governance, administration and religious activities from different parts of the Byzantine Empire. They even had a section covering the Copts, the Christian population in Egypt. This is clothes and shoes that a Christian child would wear in the Egyptian part of the Byzantine Empire.

One part of the museum that we found very interesting, was the huge controversy and religious division over Iconoclasm (breakers of icons and religious images) over iconodules (supporters of icons and religious images) during the 8th and early 9th centuries. The iconoclasts banned all religious pictures of icons and christian heroes and wanted the cross to be the only symbol for worship, whilst iconodules wanted to keep the worship and veneration of images of Jesus, the Apostles and saints.

There were religious art hanging in the museum.

There were plenty of jewelry on display in the museum.

and equipment for everyday life like oil lamps.

Parts of houses where also displayed in the museum, so you got a feeling for Byzantine architecture. More pictures from the museum can be found in the slide show below.


Athens is huge, but we managed to get a feeling for the neighborhoods we where surrounded by. They grow non-eatable orange allées in the city.

Athens has a lot of smaller and bigger parks. We had a lovely pine forest park near us that we explored.

And their balconies are filled with green plants.

Sometimes there is a tree right on the streets. Vehicles be aware!

We walked by a beautifully painted school and we had to take a picture of it.

And we found a car repair shop with a go-cart like car on display showing the mechanism behind how a car works. Just small things that we love finding while walking around in a new city,

Pontus got himself a fresh haircut whilst in Athens.

OKEIO  is our favorite restaurant in Athens. which is near the Byzantine Museum and the cliff railway that takes you up on the Lycabettus hill.

Both the interior design and food is lovely.

They serve a mix of Greek and European dishes.

We tried a local restaurant that we got recommended by our Airbnb-hosts and we got to taste many kinds of traditional Greek food here.

And eat meat German style here in Athens, which they call “Kotsi”, 8 euro for a huge chunk of tender meat.

We also got to hang out with our awesome Airbnb-hosts Khatchig and Matina. Blurry pictures, but lovely times!

Thank you M and K for all your help and recommendations while we stayed in Athens. It made our time in Athens so much easier!

Next up Acropolis. We just had to visit this place before we left Athens. More about this historical landmark in our next blog post.

Athens, the Olympic Games and Chinese Technology and Science

Athens is one of the cities we have wanted to visit for its rich cultural heritage, so we decided to travel there after our time in Cyprus. We literally could breath western history and classical antiquity while we where here, but we where also surprised to find a whole museum dedicated to Chinese technological and scientific history.

Aten är en av de städer vi har velat besöka för sitt rika kulturarv, så vi bestämde oss för att resa hit efter vår tid på Cypern. Vi kunde bokstavligen andas västerländsk historia och antiken medan vi var här, men vi blev  också förvånad över att hitta ett helt museum dedikerat till kinesisk teknisk och vetenskaplig historia.

Next stop Greece and a chance to explore classical antiquity left standing in Athens.

We wanted to see what Athens’s skyline looked like, so we went up on Lycabettus hill, a limestone hill that reaches 300 meters above sea level in the middle of Athens.

First we needed to climb up a few stairs.

You can either walk up the hill or take the Lycabettus Funicular. 5 Euro for a one-way ticket or 7.5 Euro for a two-way ticket.

We got a great view from the top of Lycabettus. From here we could spot the Panathenaic Stadium where the first modern, international, summer olympic game was held in 1896, but the stadium is much older than that.

We could also see Acropolis.

Greek mythology tells that Lycabettus hill was created when goddess Athena dropped a limestone mountain that she had been carrying from the Pallene peninsula for the construction of the Acropolis.

The impressive Hymettos mountain range in the east that separates Athens from Athens airport. The highest point reaches 1026 meters above sea level and it is one of four mountains surrounding Athens.

We took the walking option back down!

Back down to almost sea level and we found a lovely house hiding among the concrete buildings in the neighborhood.

We passed the Panathenaic Stadium, the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble. It was here where the 1896 Summer Olympics, the first modern games, took place.

The first stadium on the site was built around 330 BC, but it was rebuilt in marble by the Athenian-Roman senator Herodes Atticus in 144 AD and the stadium had a capacity of 50,000 seats. The capacity around 1896 was 80,000.

Athens is famous for the Olympic games and we found several athletic fields around the Panathenaic Stadium where children and adults were training in the middle of winter.

A closed-down outdoor swimming pool.

We went to Herakleidon, a Science, Art and Mathematics museum in Athens. We thought it would be about western history in those fields with a Chinese exhibition, but it was all about China and we loved to learn more about that part of the world.

China was several hundred years before the middle east and Europe in a lot of fields. It was forbidden to use the camera in most of the museum, but we took a few sneak photos to show you.

We got a nice overview of the different dynasties that have been in control of Chinese territorium.

The Chinese construction art was impressive. Ulrika likes to think about how the world would look today if not the Ming Dynasty had shut China out of the rest of the world in the early 15th century. The huge shipyards were closed down and shipbuilding laws were implemented that restricted boat building so that only small size boats were built.

A spoon compass was one of the compasses displayed here.

Transportation was something the Chinese were good at.

This mechanical carriage had mechanical drummers on it that drummed every 0.5 kilometers or 1 Lin to measure distance.

The museum had smaller versions of different carriages that could tell distance traveled and orientation.  Children and adults could see the mechanism behind the carriages and try them out. The museum was very interactive so we think children would love this place, we certainly did.

The had a room about Chinese astronomy.

The art of and history of printing. There were a lot more things to see in this museum, but we didn’t want to take to many pictures here.

This was part one of our time in Athens, more is to come!

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