There aren’t many things in a lifetime of travel that truly live up to their billing. Machu Picchu is one: the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, as I found out, is another.
Set on its massive hill in the middle of town, the Acropolis commands the city landscape like a king. And when you scale the hill, the reality of the civilization that existed there, and the sophistication with which it was built, hit you full on. People gasp out loud at their first look into the perfect bowl of the Theatre of Dionysos Eleuthereus (above).
And climbing through the stone passageway to the level above, you’re ushered into the presence of one of the world’s iconic structures, the Parthenon. These days it’s pretty much a construction site, as you can see below. But even a clutter of cranes and supprts can’t completely hide its classic lines and perfect proportions. Nearby, a smaller temple is flanked by a row of amazingly preserved female statues. Its design, we’re told, was altered to accommodate a spring created when Neptune struck the stone with his mighty trident.
Almost as impressive as the Acropolis itself are the views it presents of the ancient city below. And the reverse is true, too: even from a mile away, the classic buidlings stand out on the hilltop, presenting views right out of an art gallery. Athens is a modern city built on the stones of an ancient one. To Athenians, it seems natural — and maybe it is.