Pyrgos – Bell towers and doors

Thira (Santorini), Greece, 12 October 2018.

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(Click on any image to see it in a larger size, if you are on a PC or tablet at least.)

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Architecture, Art, Belltowers, Doors, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Pyrgos, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel

On our last day on Thira, we drove back from Perissa through Emporio to Pyrgos.  This was on the way, I think just past Emporio.  The structure at the top is obviously old, perhaps Venetian.  I couldn’t find it on Google Earth and can’t identify it.

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Architecture, Art, Belltowers, Doors, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Pyrgos, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel

We are now in Megalochori, on the back-street route to Pyrgos.

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This image and the following ones are all from Pyrgos.

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They are generally aesthetic images rather than historic and need little description.

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Pyrgos is a traditional village in the centre of the island, declared a protected settlement since 1995.  It was the capital of the island until 1800.

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One thing that caught my eye was the old doors.

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… or new and old in this case.

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Below is Perissa, where we had come from earlier.

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This is a view of Kamari, a bit further north than Perissa.

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Agia Theodosia Church, at the highest point on the island.  We will see this popping up in several of the images below.

. Architecture, Art, Belltowers, Doors, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Pyrgos, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel

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. Architecture, Art, Belltowers, Doors, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Pyrgos, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel A different bell tower.

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Looking towards the caldera, I think.

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We are now inside the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

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Looking towards the south end of the island, on the caldera side.

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Looking towards Oia.

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The centre of the island.

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Some of the ruins of the Venetian castle that once stood here.

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I think this is the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary from the outside.

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From here, we headed to the port where we dropped off the rental car and caught the ferry to Crete.

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Akrotiri

Thira (Santorini), Greece, 12 October 2018.

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(Click on any image to see it in a larger size, if you are on a PC or tablet at least.)

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Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel

Akrotiri is a town that was buried in ash and mud over 2.500 years ago.  It survived though buried because it is on the far south of the main island, on the opposite side to the caldera.  No bodies were found here, though there was the impressions of furniture in the volcanic ash, so the population was likely forewarned to evacuate.  (Some readers may remember my visit to Plymouth on Montserrat, a town that was buried in volcanic ash in 1997 and later inundated by a lahar.)

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Archaeological excavations are still ongoing.

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There is an extensive modern roof built to protect the ancient city.  It collapsed in 2005, just before completion, killing one visitor.  The site was closed and not reopened until 2012.

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There is a whole city here, with a central street, houses clustered around small squares and a sewage system.

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Some of the stonework is quite precise.

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In the fifth millennium BC, Akrotiti was a small fishing village and we visited the current equivalent of that port in the post Red Beach and Akrotiri Lighthouse, except that the modern shore line and water level may be quite different.

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In the third millennium BC, Akrotiri greatly expanded and frequent finds of foreign pottery speak of a thriving trade centre with links to Cyprus and Minoan Crete.

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This is the West House, adjoining triangle square.  It was a large well-constructed private residence with at least three stories.

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Hundreds of loom weights found in the ruins of this house, fallen from upper floors, attest to significant weaving activities there.

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The ground floor included store rooms, workshops, a kitchen and a mill with machinery for grinding grain into flour.  The first floor included a toilet and bathroom.  The house also included some remarkable frescos including the Flotilla Fresco, now housed in the Museum of Archaeology in Athens.  Unfortunately, when we were at that museum, we missed the mezzanine floor with relics from Minoan Crete and Thira.  However, I will have some frescos from Crete to show you in a later post.

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Triangle Square with the West House on the left.

Thira is prone to Plinian Eruptions (extremely explosive eruptions, producing ash columns that extend many tens of miles into the stratosphere and that spread out into an umbrella shape).  There have been at least twelve in the last 360,000 years.

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This is a representation of a view of pre-eruption Thira from the Flotilla Fresco, found in the West House.  It shows a maritime festival, with galleys rowing from a town on the left (on the current island of Thirasia) to a town on the right (in the current location of Oia).  There are many dolphins in the sea and the landscape on the right does not have the current high cliffs of Oia.

The much smaller inundated caldera of this time was left over from the Cape Riva eruption around 22,000 years ago.  the small central island slowly rose in the caldera from 20,000 years ago.  The view from the fresco is confirmed by stratographic archaeological evidence.

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The red outline shows the pre-eruption island.  According to Herodotus, at the time of the eruption, the island was named Strongyli (“the Round One” in ancient Greek).  Akrotiri is at bottom centre and Ancient Thera (previous post) at bottom right.  The two towns from the fresco are indicated with stars near the mouth of the small caldera.  There is no trace of them any more.

There were four phases to the historic eruption, within a fairly short time frame.  It was preceded by earthquakes and a light ash flow which may have allowed people to escape.  The first phase included deposits of pumice up to six metres thick.  In the second and third phases, the vent had migrated to underneath the old caldera so they were phreatomagmatic (ie underwater, like the recent Tongan eruptions; I bet you’ve never heard that word before).  The fourth phase included extremely hot pyroclastic flows.

Earlier eruptions built up a cone of tuff and the final eruption blew all that away and produced a huge tsumani that devastated the coast of Crete.  It was one of the largest eruptions of human history, four times larger than the Krakatoa eruption of 1883.  In 536AD a smaller eruption of unknown source (possibly Krakatoa) caused climate conditions that devastated Justinian’s Eastern Roman Empire for years afterwards.  So although the tsunami didn’t wipe out Minoan Crete, its climatic aftermath may have been a major cause of decline.

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Akrotiri slowly rises from the ashes.

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No cisterns have been found that collected drinking water from rain but the discovery of a different type of pipe to that used for sewage may indicate an aqueduct from Mount Prophitis Elias, near Ancient Thera.

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Perhaps this is a basin for washing grain, food or clothing.

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An ancient bucket, it would seem.

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Mortar and pestle.

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Excavations continue and some areas are roped off where archaeologists are working.  A house adjoining Triangle Square near West House is yet to be excavated for example.  Perhaps there are more frescos to uncover.

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Archaeologists at work.

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There are many pithoi, or large jars for storage.  they are generally in situ, though presumably they have been lifted out, cleaned or repaired, and replaced where they were.  The pithoi were used for storing water, wine, olive oil, grain or other vegetable products.

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Reference:   Constraining the landscape of Late Bronze Age Santorini prior to the Minoan eruption: Insights from volcanological, geomorphological and archaeological findings; Karátson, Telbisz, Gertisser, Strasser, Nomikou, Druitte, Vereb, Quidelleur and Kósikg; Journal of Volcanology abd Geotyhermal Research, 1 September 2020.

Perissa Beach to Oia

Thira (Santorini), Greece, 11 October 2018.

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Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Oia, Perissa, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel

From Emporio, we headed to Perissa and here we are on the beach.

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We hoped to visit Ancient Thera, a ruined town that spanned many eras, potentially stretching back 11,000 years, but visible elements are mainly Roman and Byzantine.  The site was abandoned after an eruption of the volcano in the 8th century AD.

I wasn’t aware that there were opening times and we got there five or ten minutes too late.  There was at least half an hour before all visitors had to return and I tried to persuade the gate keeper to let us race up there and be back before that time but he wouldn’t budge.  So the above view of a wall at the top of a cliff was all we got to see.

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Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Oia, Perissa, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel

I’m not sure exactly where this church belltower is.  Perhaps we are looking back at Perissa.

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This is the Chapel of Panagia Katefiani, below the Ancient City of Thira.

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Back at Perissa Beach again and the yacht has probably moved.  We would have had lunch at the small town here.

. Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Oia, Perissa, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel We have now gone back to the caldera side of the island and are somewhere above the Port of Thira, looking north.  in the distance, a cruise ship and a three-masted ship pass by while people lounge below on a house or hotel balcony.

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In the other direction, we see a catamaran and a ferry at the port.

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A catamaran is leaving port.

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Also a ferry, probably heading for Crete.  The ferry takes three and a half hours and the cat two.  The ferry is much cheaper and also takes cars.

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Donkeys returning from a hard day carrying tourists (some overweight) up the steep slopes from the port.  Picturesque and traditional they may be but there is controversy here about cruelty to the donkeys.

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Now it’s much later and we have returned to Oia and I have fought through the dense crowds to get a key position for sunset views at the point.  This is as far as you can go and we are in the ruins of a Venetian Fort, built to safeguard the island from pirates.  Some photographers kindly made room for me when I arrived.

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This image may look crooked but it’s actually not.  The eye is drawn to the island on the right rather than the faint horizon behind it..

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I am now looking back at the township of Oia, looking towards the north coast.  This is taken with a wide angle lens.

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This image and the next three are taken from the same viewpoint, looking at the township of Oia, with a long telephoto lens.  There are a couple in close communion holding beers at the bottom.

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This is one of the two windmills visible in the earlier wide angle view.  There is a light on in one of the rooms of the windmill and thirteen people at bottom right camped for a sunset view (though partly obscured by the watermark, even if you click for a larger view).

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This is the other one.  Only two people visible in this one.

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Still with the long lens.  St Sostis Orthodox Church at the top.  I make it twenty one people visible in this one.

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Back to the wide angle.  Looking south at the Township of Oia along the caldera coast.  It’s getting darker now.  this is a thirteen second exposure.

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Looking over the Venetian castle at the view across the caldera.  Fifty second exposure this time.

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Much later, after dinner and back across the road from where we were staying at the other end of Oia.

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Emporio

Thira (Santorini), Greece, 11 October 2018.

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From the lighthouse at the south end of Thira, we drove north and then headed towards the other coast, away from the caldera.  On the way, we stopped at Emporio, always one of my main planned points of interest for Thira.  It is a traditional village, the largest on the island, and the name refers to trade as it was once the main trading centre for the island.

There is little point trying to add captions for most of the images.  they are a visual feast of a wonderful urban microcosm.

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There are two ways to take this sign.  One, you may be a pedestrian and should beware of others hooning around on motorcycles in the narrow laneways.  Alternatively, you may be on a motorbike and this is how you should do it.  Crouch down for better aerodynamics and ride really fast.

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Finally a few macro shots on the way out, probably near the church where we started from.

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Oia

Oia, Thira (Santorini), Greece, 10 October 2018.

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Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Oia, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel

This is the map of Thira, where we were to spend the next few days.  It is more commonly known as Santorini, which is the Byzantine name.  Thira is the Greek name and after all, it is in Greece.  The blue lines show our planned travel route, which should be pretty close to our actual route, because I had this route saved in our car GPS.  (You may like to click for a larger image and more detail).

You can see there is a kind of a great blue hole in the centre of the map.  This is the caldera of Thira.  It was dry land until the volcano exploded somewhere around 1650BC, causing no small inconvenience for the locals and also devastating the northern coast of Crete with tsunami.

We stayed in Oia, in the far north of the island, well known for its scenic vistas.  This post is for our first night on the island, in Oia.

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Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Oia, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel

This is looking back along the coast of the island.  The light would have been low and I have resisted any temptation to over-saturate or overly increase contrast in these images.  (Still, most people will be viewing these images on unprofiled screens which may not be entirely accurate).

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We are now looking in the other direction, north towards the small township of Oia.  The island of Thirassia is in the distance (one island though it may appear as two).

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A wider view looking south that gives a good idea of the size of the caldera.

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There are many houses perched on the steep slopes of the cliffs, and inviting paths.

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This would be a tempting place to loll in the sun in a hot day.

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This is just across the road from where we were staying.

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People we encounter while walking towards the north point of the island….

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At the top is the Church of Panagia Platsani.

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Young woman contemplating the sunset.

This is much closer and 25 minutes later, but with a much wider angle lens.

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The lights of the town come on as the sun goes down.

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The island of Thirassia in the distance again.

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A vignette of the multi-layered settlement on the steep slope.

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Trivia Note:  30,000 images.

Following an update of my index of live music posts for the  first time in two years, there are now over 30,000 images either in this Blog or linked to from this Blog.  There are 17,000 images in the Blog (in 1,100 posts and with 430,000 words) and links to another 13,000 live music images (from 1,150 performances).

Monochromes from Athens

9 to 10 October 2018, Athens, Greece.

Links go to colour posts (with more information and historical context). If an image does not have a link, the preceding one applies.

Click on any image to see it larger (if on a PC at least).

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Acropolis, Ancient Agora of Athens, Archaeology, Architecture, Athens, Black and White, Greece, History, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Roman Agora, Street photography, Travel

The Acropolis from the Temple of Hephaistos.

Ancient Agora in Athens

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Looking down on the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.

Acropolis Now.

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The Temple of Athena Nike, looking up from the path to the Acropolis.

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The steps of the Propylaea.

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Inside the Propylaea.

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Looking back at the Propylaea.

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Approaching the Parthenon.

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The Caryatids, the Erechtheion.

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The Erechtheion.

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Parthenon detail.

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Parthenon relief.

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Front steps of the Parthenon.

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Temple of Olympian Zeus.

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The top of Mount Lycabettus.

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Church of Saint Marina at Thiselo.

Roman Agora in Athens

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Acropolis, Ancient Agora of Athens, Archaeology, Architecture, Athens, Black and White, Greece, History, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Roman Agora, Street photography, Travel

Church of the Holy Apostles.

Ancient Agora in Athens

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On the pathway down from the Acropolis.

Roman Agora in Athens

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Roman Agora.

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Relief on the Horologion.

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Roman Agora and the Horologion.

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Inside the Horologion.

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The streets of Athens.

Ancient Agora in Athens

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The Stoa of Attalo and the Ancient Agora.

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Portrait head of a man, 2nd century AD.

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Under the dome of the Church of the Holy Apostles.

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Relief, Church of the Holy Apostles.

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The Temple of Hephaistos.

. Acropolis, Ancient Agora of Athens, Archaeology, Architecture, Athens, Black and White, Greece, History, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Roman Agora, Street photography, Travel … closer view.

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The Propylaea in late afternoon light from the City of Athens.

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Part of a marble disk with female head in relief, perhaps Aphrodite. c. 460-450 BC.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens

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From Delos (“Palaestra of Granite”). Early 1st c. BC.

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Bronze helmet of illyrian type and gold funerary mask.  530-510 BC.

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Grave stele. End of the fifth century BC.

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National Archaeological Museum, Athens

Athens, 10 October 2018.

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(Click on any image to see it in a larger size, if you are on a PC or tablet at least.)

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On the morning before our flight out to Thira, we visited the Archaeological museum, near where we were staying.  Unfortunately, we missed the mezzanine floor with items from Crete, and by the time we realised this it was too late to turn back.  Still, there was a lot to see.  They are in the order we walked around the museum, which was roughly chronological for the exhibits.  Descriptions are from the labels with the items.

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Gold diadem with repoussé circles and rosettes, grave items, 17th to 16th centuries BC, Mycenae.

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Elephant or hippopotamus ivory warriors’ head wearing boar’s tusk helmet.  From a Mycenaean Chamber Tomb from the palace period of the 14th and 13th centuries BC.

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Necklaces made of carnelian beads, Mycenae Chamber tombs, 15th-12th centuries BC.

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Three-handled Palace Style amphora with three large octopuses within a marinescape of rocks and seaweed. A Mycenaean imitation of the Minoan Marine Style.  15th century BC.

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Gold signet ring, the largest extant Mycenaean ring.  It depicts a procession of lion-headed daemons holding libation jugs and moving towards an enthroned goddess.  The goddess wears a long chiton and raises a ritual vessel.  Behind the throne is an eagle-symbo! of dominion. The sun’s heel and crescent moon appear in the sky. 15th century BC.

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The ‘Mycenaean Lady’. The serious and pensive expression of the goddess reveals the solemnity of the moment, as she accepts, slightly smiling, the gift, a necklace, which she holds tightly in her right hand.  She wears a short-sleeved bodice over a sheer blouse, which delineates her ample bosom. Her intricate hairstyle and rich jewellery (necklaces and bracelets) are striking.  Wall-painting from the Acropolis of Mycenae, 13th century BC.

The art of wail-painting first appeared in the Aegean in Minoan Crete and was closely associated with palatial architecture. Indeed, monumental painting was an official art, undertaken by artists who worked for the king. The iconography is inspired from the natural world or exhibits religious ceremonies from the royal court. The art of wall-painting spread to mainland Greece with the construction of the palaces at Myconae, Tiryns, Thebes and Pylos, after the Mycenaeans established themselves at the palace of Knossos in Crete, at the end of the 15th century BC. The Mycenaean artist used natural earth colours, made mainly of metal oxides, which he applied onto a wet plaster surface.

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Fragment of a wall-painting depicting three women looking out of the windows of a festooned house. The scene’s festive character and women’s gestures of veneration and surprise indicate that they are watching a religious spectacle.  From the ‘Ramp House’, Mycenae acropolis. 14th century BC.

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Gold signet rings depicting religious scenes: ecstatic dances in open air sanctuaries, processions of women approaching sanctuaries, preparations for animal sacrifices and ‘sacred conversation’.  Mycenae Chamber tombs, 15th-14th centuries BC.  (Also next two images).

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In a landscape of olive trees, a bull is captured by peaceful means: a man ties a thick rope around the bull’s leg, while the beast flirts with a cow. (Though just the flirting shown in this image.)

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In a landscape of olive and palm trees, a raging bull attacks and repels two hunters (and on the other side of the object, another bull  is caught in a net).

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Bronze statue of a horse and young jockey.  Retrieved in pieces from the shipwreck off Cape Artemision in Euboea. The young jockey of the galloping horse will have held the reins in his left hand and a whip in his right. The contractions and furrows on his face, especially on the forehead, reveal agony and passion. The work is known as the “Artemision Jockey”. About 140 BC.

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Female funerary statue. Marble.  Found on Delos. The female figure is rendered in the type of the Small Herculaneum Woman. She wears a full-length chiton and a himation that covers her entire body and arms.  Copy made in the 2nd c. BC of a famous original dating from about 300 BC.

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Votive relief. Marble.  Found to the south of the river Ilissos, Athens.  The relief has the form of a naiskos with pilasters, an epistyle and a cornice. Herakles is depicted at the right holding the lion’s pelt and club.  In the centre of the scene, a bull is led to sacrifice by a servant. At the left is depicted a family of worshipers with their maidservant, who carries a basket covered with a cloth on her head. The votive inscription on the epistyle mentions: Panis Aigirios to Herakles. The relief probably comes from the sanctuary of Herakles at Kynosarges.  4th c. BC.

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Votive relief and base. Marble.  Found in the cave of the Nymphs on Mount Penteli, Attica. The relief, in the form of a cave, is set on a tall, rectangular base, on which is carved an inscription stating that the relief was dedicated to the Nymphs by Agathemeros. The dedicator is depicted at the right holding in his right hand a kantharos, which a nude wine-server is filling. In front of them, seated on a rock, the goat-footed god Pan holds the pan-pipe.  Next to him is Hermes, holding the caduceus and wearing a chlamys.
Three Nymphs are depicted behind him.  About 330 BC.

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Part of a marble disk with female head in relief.  The goddess of beauty, Aphrodite, is perhaps depicted. Her rich hair is gathered in a sakkos (snood), which curves over the nape of the lean neck. An additional curl would be attached to the temple. The face emits grace and balanced beauty.  From Melos. Around 460-450 BC.

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Golden bracelets.  Two realistically shown snakes, with red precious stones, were wrapped around the arms of a priestess, protecting her from all evil.  The bracelet in the form of a coiled snake was the paramount type than predominated in the Hellenistic period.  Unknown provenance (from the so-called Karpenissi Treasure). Late 3rd – early 2nd century BC.

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Gold chain-net head jewel.  A fine chain net, adorned with red gems and blue enamel.  The goddess Artemis, wearing her arrow case on her right shoulder, is shown on the medallion.  It was perhaps made to fasten the gathered up hair of a priestess.  Unknown provenance (from the so-called Karpenissi Treasure). 4th – early 3rd century BC.

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Hexagonal wooden pyxis.  Wooden box, decorated with rectangular gold plates, ornamented in the repousse technique.  Three decorative themes are repeated on the side panels of the pyxis:  a lion chase of a deer and a roe in a tropical landscape, and a running spiral pattern.  From Mycenaean Grave Circle A, Shaft Grave V.  Second half of 16th century BC.

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Grave stele of an athlete.  The athlete is depicted naked, holding a javelin in the left hand.  The treatment of the musculature in the torso and hands follows the archaic conventions but it is marked by plastic contours and soft transitions. The elaborate headdress is tied with a ribbon and combed in twisted braids and tresses with spiral and helicoid terminals.  Red paint is preserved in the background of the relief and on the hair.  From Athens. 550-540 BC.

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From Delos (“Palaestra of Granite”).  A distinctively realistic face of an anonymous figure carrying the burden of ephemeral thoughts and evryday concerns. Wrinkles on the forehead, at the edges of the eyes, melancholic expression of a wet look, made more lively by the colour variegation of the eyes, are characteristics that contrast the idealism of the classic rule.  Early 1st c. BC.

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Bronze helmet of illyrian type and gold funerary mask.  From Chalcidice. 530-510 B.C

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Goddess on a throne. Attic workshop. Terracotta.  End of 6th/beginning of 5th century BC.

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Statue of the princess-priestess Takushit.  Found on Kom Tourougka, near Lake Mareotis, south of Alexandria, in 1880. The woman’s name means ‘the Ethiopian’ and may refer to her relation or marriage to an Ethiopian. Her father was Akanosh Il, great chief of the Ma tribe from Libya.   The figure’s characteristic garment is executed with inlaid decoration, a technique in which the engraved design is inlaid with precious metal wire. The motifs are hieroglyphs and deities of the northeast region of the Nile Delta, Takushit’s homeland.  The statue had a ritual, votive, and funerary use.  Copper alloy with precious metal inlay.  End of 25th Dynasty, approximately 670 BC.

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Copper alloy statuette of the god Sarapis Amun Agathodaemon.  One of the rare preserved statues of this deity.

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Copper alloy statue of Isis with Horus the child.

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Copper alloy sarcophagus for a cat.

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Helmet of Corinthian type. A fragmentary inscription on the right cheekpiece indicates that it was dedicated by the Athenians. Late 6th-early 5th century BC.

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Grave stele. Thespian marble. Found in the outskirts of Thebes.  Two figures, a bearded man with a staff on the right and a spinning (?) woman on the left, sit facing each other. Three more figures, two men and a woman, stand in the background. A very small female attendant is represented at far left.  Characteristic attributes are the pomegranate and torch (?) held by the standing bearded man in his left hand, as well as the aryballos in the right hand of the beardless youth. The solemnity of the relief, which is emphasized by the rhythmic arrangement of the magnificent figures in two levels, points to the heroization of the dead —a fact that accords with the Boeotian origin of the stele.  End of the fifth century BC.

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Grave stele. Marble.  Found northeast of Athens, in Chalandri (ancient Phlya).  A bearded man supported on a staff offers a bird to a young boy standing before him. Both figures are draped. The inscription identifies them as Philokles and his son Dikaios, and also records their patronymics.  ca. 410 BC.

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Head of a bearded god. Pentelic marble.  Found in Piraeus, in a sanctuary of Eetioneia. It represents Zeus or Hermes.  This may be the head of the herm dedicated by Python from Abdera in Thrace, a work of the Parian sculptor Euphron.  450 – 440 BC.

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Votive relief. Pentelic marble. Found in Sounion, near the Temple of Athena. It represents a self-crowning athlete and was probably dedicated by a victor in local games.  His wreath was made of metal and fitted to the drilled holes that are visible around the head. ca. 460 BC.

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Statue of a Sphinx. Pentelic marble. Found in Spata, Attica.  One of the earliest known Archaic Sphinxes, it was once used as finial of a grave stele.  About 570 B.C.

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Statue of a kore. Parian marble.  Found in Merenda (ancient Myrrhinous), Attica. The fully
preserved statue stood atop the grave of Phrasikleia, as is indicated by the inscription on the pedestal. The expression of the face and the rendering of garment that follows the curves of the body underneath are remarkable.  The chiton retains in many places its painted decoration with rosettes, swastikas, stars and meanders. An extraordinary work, one of the most important of the ripe Archaic style. Made by the sculptor Aristion from Paros. 550-540 B.C.

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Monumental Attic grave-amphora.  From the Kerameikos cemetery. The main scene, shows the prothesis and mourning for the dead. Over the bier is the shroud.  Men, women and a child lament with the hands on their heads, in the usual mourning gesture.  Work by the «Dipylon Painter». Late Geometric Period. 760-750 BC.

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Ancient Agora in Athens

Athens, 9 October 2018.

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(Click on any image to see it in a larger size, if you are on a PC or tablet at least.)

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Ancient Agora of Athens, Archaeology, Architecture, Athens, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Stoa of Attalos, Street photography, Temple of Hephaistos, Travel

From the Roman Agora of Athens (in the previous post) we headed to the Ancient Agora of Athens, which involved a brief walk through the city.

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This is from the Temple of Hephaistos, later in the afternoon, but it gives a good overview of where we are.  Up at the top right on the horizon is the Acropolis.  We walked down from the Propylae, at the right end, to the Roman Agora, somewhere behind the poplars in the middle distance.  The long low building is the Stoa of Attalos, now a museum, which we will visit.  We also visit the Church of the Holy Apostles, which you can just see off to the right of the Stoa (maybe click on the image for a larger view).  The whole area in between the viewpoint of the photograph and the Stoa is the Ancient Agora, though not a lot of it remains.

The Agora was a large open square gradually surrounded with administrative buildings.  it was the heart of public life in the city and the centre of Democracy.  It was also the administrative centre, the judicial centre and the religious centre.  As well as that it was the centre for theatrical events, musical events, commercial transactions, religious events and athletic contests.  It was also the centre of the Great Panathenaia, a festival held every four years.

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Here is a view of the Ancient Agora, taken from a notice board.  On the far right (20) is the Temple of Hephaistos and on the left (13) is the Stoa of Attalos. In the middle (12) is the Odeon of Agrippa, which must have been quite impressive in its time but hardly anything remains.  At the far top right is the Pnyx, the open air site for the democratic assembly.

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Back to the timeline:  we are now approaching the Stoa of Attalos.

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You can line it up with Mount Lycabettus in the distance.

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The Stoa of Attalos was the gift of Attalos II, King of Pergamon, in the second century BC.  It was 120 metres long and had 21 shops at the back of both floors, which could be rented by merchants.  It was also a meeting place for the general public and an ideal place from which to view the Procession of the  Great Panathenaia.

Along with many other monumental buildings, the Stoa was destroyed during the sack of Athens by the Herulians, a barbarian tribe, in 267AD.  Its ruins were later incorporated in the Late Roman Fortification Wall, as after the sack Athens remained greatly reduced.  In 1950 little remained other than the foundations but it was completely restored from 1953 to 1956 and the first floor houses the Ancient Agora Museum, where we now go.

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Inside the museum, here is a model of the Agora, viewed now from a different angle.  The Stoa of Attalos is on the right, the Temple of Hephaistos (coming up) is on the far left.

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This is a model of the Pnyx, the meeting place of the democratic assembly, in its later form.  Unfortunately I missed an opportunity and didn’t go up to what remains of it (not much) or photograph that in its context.

The Ekklesia was the ancient democratic assembly (curious how words evolve).  Originally it was in the large square of the Agora but in the early 5th century it moved up the hill.  At first it was just on the rock of the hillside with the speakers platform at the bottom but in the late 5th century BC the structure was built and the speakers faced the other way.  It was extended in later years and could accommodate 6,000 citizens or more.  The name Pnyx is a Greek word for “tightly packed together”.

Of course ancient Athenian democracy was just slightly different from what we call democracy today.  All citizens had the right to participate, debate and vote.  Citizens though excluded women and slaves though slavery was not as predatory as later in the US for example.

Athenian democracy produced many great leaders including Cleisthenes, Themistocles, Ephialtes and Pericles. Athens was also the maritime superpower of its time and came to have an empire with territories and allies covering the shores and islands of the Aegean, while Greek colonies of various forms stretched from Georgia to near Valencia.

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Head of Alexander the Great or Eubouleus, a god connected with the Elusinian mysteries, unfinished 2nd century AD Roman copy of 4th century BC Greek original.

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Portrait head of a man, probably an African athlete, 250-260AD.

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Portrait head of a man, 2nd century AD.

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Portrait bust of the Emperor Antoninus Pius 138-161AD.

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Outside again, of course.  I know where this is; I found it on Google Earth.  It’s about thirty metres from the south end of the Stoa of Attalos and the remains of the walls behind are part of the Middle Stoa. What these circular shapes are though I don’t know.  Perhaps the two with indents in the middle were bases for statues.

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Not far from the Stoa of Attalos (as we can see in the background) and taken during the walkk down from the Acropolis, is the 11th century Church of the Holy Apostles, restored 1954-56.

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I find the surviving frescoes much more artistically appealing than more modern equivalents, which are more technically perfect, less expressive and ethnically anachronistic.

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This is the Temple of Hephaistos, the only surviving part of the Ancient Agora.  This image was taken from a distance, from near the Stoa of Attalos.

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… while this is taken from close beside it.  The temple dates from 460 to 415BC and Hephaistos was patron of metal workers.  It is “a Doric peripteral temple, with pronaos (fore-temple), cella (inner shrine) and opisthanaos (rear temple), the best preserved of its type in the Greek world”.

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Here is one of the reliefs high above the columns, of either the Labours of Hercules or the Labours of Theseus.

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A view of the Acropolis from the Temple of Hephaistos.

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Crowds at the entrance of the Propylaea.

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Walking back, this is the remains of the Temple of Ares, from the 5th century BC, which was about the same size and date as the Temple of Hephaistos.  There is a sign “Altar of Ares” in the background.

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The remains of two statues from the Odeon of Agrippa.  Thgis was a grand luxurious building for musical performances constructed around 15BC.  Its unsupported roof collapsed around 150AD and it was then rebuilt with a different method but it was destroyed by the Herulians in 267AD.

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We then walked down to the city and had dinner on a rooftop restaurant where I was able to take some photos with a long lens as the sun went down.  These people are waiting on the Areopagus to photograph the Acropolis during the sunset.  The Areopagus in ancient times was the site of the supreme court.  In the previous photograph of the Acropolis, it is off to the right.

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Sunset and the Acropolis is closed or closing.  This is the last person leaving the entrance of the Propylae.

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The Acropolis by night.

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Roman Agora in Athens

Athens, 9 October 2018.

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(Click on any image to see it in a larger size, if you are on a PC or tablet at least.)

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We have just left the Acropolis (previous post) and are now heading off down the path to the Roman Agora, the Ancient Agora and the City Centre.  We will cover the Roman Agora in this post and the Ancient Agora in the next.  Agora is the Greek word for Forum so we could as well say Roman Forum, but as we are in Athens it is the Roman Agora.

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Church of Saint Marina at Thiselo.

This is taken from near the Propylaea, or the entrance to the Acropolis, using a long lens, equivalent to 330mm in full-frame terms.  It is not far from the Acropolis and even closer to the Ancient Agora.  You may think it looks recent and that’s because it is.  It was constructed in 1927.

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This is definitely much older and similarly taken from near the Propylaea with a similarly long focal length.  I think it is part of the Ancient Agora but I can’t be sure.

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Descending further from the Propylaea, we walked through an area of indeterminate age and modern decoration.

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This and the next image are of the Church of the Metamorphosis, along the lane down from the Propylaea.  Any references to Kafka are no doubt coincidental.

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And this is the Roman Agora,as seen from above from the laneway.

The Roman Agora was built between 19BC and 11BC, during the reign of Augustus.  It was the commercial heart of Athens, replacing the Ancient Agora, which had become too small for the purpose due to building activity.

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This is the Gate of Athena Archegetis.

We saw a view of this from on high in the previous post on the Acropolis, and it’s at the far end of the previous image.

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East Propylon.

This is the East Propylon, remains of the four-columned monumental gateway at the east of the Roman Agora, erected in 11BC.  The 17th century Fethiye Mosque (or Wheatmarket Mosque) is the domes in the background.

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Agoranomeion.

This is the remains of the Agoranomeion, a building of unknown purpose.  A dedication has been found from the middle of the first century AD.

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Top of a couple of Agora columns.

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A finely worked fragment with the remains of an inscription.

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You should be able to recognise what this is.

I’ll give you a clue:  They are common in modern cities, though in a somewhat different form.

They are public toilets where people sat together doing their business.  I have read in a different context (for Italy, I think but presumably the same) that they were only for free males, not for slaves, not for females.

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We are looking along the Roman Agora, in the opposite direction to the first image of it in this post.

Behind it is the Horologion of Andronikos of Kyrrhos, or the Tower of the Winds.

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The Horologion is an octagonal structure constructed in the 2nd century BC, either when Athens was still independent or recently conquered by Rome.  Either way, it is a Greek rather than a Roman structure.  It had a combination of a sundial, a weather vane, and a water clock, driven by water from the Acropolis.

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You may be able to see the reliefs carved on each octagonal face at the top.

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I went round and photographed them.  So there should be eight but somehow I only have seven. They represent the Anemoi, the Greek Gods of the Winds Boreas (N), Kaikias (NE), Apeliotes (E), Eurus (SE), Notus (S), Lips (SW), Zephyrus (W), and Skiron (NW).  There are also eight sundials.

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This is the view inside the Horologion of Andronikos of Kyrrhos, where there was once a water clock, the traces of which are presumably on the floor.  This is an ultrawide view with a fisheye lens, so we are looking both up and down at the same time.

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Acropolis Now

Athens, 9 October 2018.

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(Click on any image to see it in a larger size, if you are on a PC or tablet at least.)

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Having arrived in Athens, our first objective of course was to visit the Acropolis.

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Parthenon.

The Acropolis sits us on top of a huge flat rock and here is the Parthenon from below, from near the stage of the Theatre of Dionysius.  The Acropolis is the whole complex; the Parthenon is the main building.

The rock is also encased on all sides by an ancient wall.  I infer that was to ensure it was not climbable.  Access is only from one end (to the left).

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From about the same point, here is the Theatre of Dionysius.

We go up a path to the right of here and if you look closely (or click to expand) you can see a line of people walking along at the base of the walled cliff.  They first head to the Ticket Office, then back up through the entrance to the Acropolis (both out of sight to the left).

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And here it is from much later, looking down from the Acropolis.

The theatre was constructed in the sixth century BC and at its peak could accommodate an audience of 17,000.  It continued in use in the Roman period but gradually fell into disuse in the late Byzantine era.

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Again from below, this is the Temple of Athena Nike.  Athena was the Goddess of Wisdom and Nike was the Goddess of Victory, so it is a temple of wisdom and victory rather than celebrating the shoes Athena wore.

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And though we haven’t ascended to the Acropolis yet, we are looking down on the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, where some people are setting up for a concert.

It is much more recent than the Theatre of Dionysius.  It was built by Roman citizen Herodes Atticus in 161AD in honour of his wife, but was destroyed be the Heruli, a tribe of Scythian raiders, in 267.

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Mounting the steps of the Propylaea, the monumental gateway to the Acropolis.

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Although not fortified, the Propylaea denied access to the sacred areas to people such as the ritually unclean and runaway slaves.

In 480BC, after winning the Battle of Thermopylae, the Persians sacked Athens, including overrunning some forces holed up in the Acropolis.  The Propylaea was part of the rebuilding of the Acropolis subsequently undertaken by Pericles.  Construction started in 437BC and terminated unfinished in 432BC.

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Looking back at the Propylaea.

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… and now, heading towards the Parthenon.

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The front steps of the Parthenon (obviously, under reconstruction).

The Parthenon was another project to restore the Acropolis following the Persian War.  It was built from 447BC to 438BC and decoration continued until 432BC.  As well as a temple to Athena, the city’s patron, it also served as the city Treasury.

It was converted into a church in the 6th century AD and a mosque in 1460.  Unfortunately, in 1687, when a Venetian army was besieging an Ottoman force in the Acropolis, a mortar shell hit the Ottoman ammunition dump and blew the roof off the Parthenon and damaged many of the columns.  The Venetians took Athens, held it for a while, and then withdrew.

Restoring the Acropolis doesn’t just involve trying to reverse the ancient ravages of time.  It also involves trying to reverse some of the less-than-competent restoration attempts of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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The Parthenon from the far end.

Unfortunately you are not allowed inside the Parthenon, probably for reasons of safety.

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This is now the Erechtheion.

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The Erechtheion with the Parthenon in the background.

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You can see this doorway in the previous image.

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Classical Greek buildings are usually symmetrical but this has quite different aspects on each of its faces.

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The Erechtheion was built in 440BC on uneven ground.  It was designed to avoid disturbing altars to Poseidon and Hephaestus, the spot where Poseidon hit the Acropolis with his trident, a sacred olive tree, a sacred sea water well, the tomb of Kekrops, and the Pandrosion sanctuary.

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The female figures serving as columns here are the Caryatids.  They are actually replicas.  Five of the originals are in the Acropolis Museum and one was carried away by Lord Elgin in the nineteenth century and is now in the British Museum.  He actually wanted to take all of them but was not able to obtain a suitable ship in a restricted timeframe.

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The Temple of Athena Nike, beside the Erechtheion, that we glimpsed earlier in the fourth image of this post.  It was completed in 420BC, converted into a church in the 5th century AD and dismantled by the Ottomans in the 17th century to construct fortifications (presumably to defend against the Venetians).  It was reconstructed after Greek independence (in 1832) and further restored in the 1930s.

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This is a closer view of the frieze at the top of the Temple of Athena Nike from the previous image.

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Details of surviving structures from the Parthenon.

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This stela appears to be in the Propylaea.  I can find no reference to it online.  I’m not about to try to painstakingly enter Greek characters into Google Translate as in any case, the words probably run toghether and it’s in ancient Greek, not modern Greek.

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Surviving relief sculpture high in the eaves of the Parthenon.

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Many of these show serious erosion over time, including recent deterioration due to air pollution.

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Lord Elgin removed many of the sculptures from the Parthenon in the early 19th century with (somewhat questionable) permission from the Ottomans but not the Greeks (who were of course not independent at that time).  They may have been better preserved in the British museum but still suffered some deterioration from pollution and inappropriate cleaning methods.  Greece would like them back for the new Acropolis Museum.

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This is probably the best preserved example on the Parthenon.  You can see it in situ in the top left corner of the first image.

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Conservators at work (on the Parthenon).

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Roof of the Church of the Holy Unmercenaries of Kolokynthis.

This and following images are views from the Acropolis.

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The Gate of Athena Archegetis, the largest remaining part of the Roman Agora (or Forum), constructed 11BC.

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View looking north-west from the Acropolis.

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Zooming in to the top of Mount Lycabettus.

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Probably roof of Church of St Nicholas Rangavas (11th century).

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Temple of Olympian Zeus.

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Looking down towards the Port of Piraeus.

The main harbour of Piraeus is out of sight past the promontory to the right but we are looking towards another smaller harbour we can’t quite see.

Rebuilding Athens after it was destroyed by the Persians also included constructing protective walls.  Athens itself was fortified with a wall with about a one kilometre radius and the Acropolis in the middle.  Pireus was also fortified, so most of the populated area we see in the middle distance as well as the main port to the right (out of picture) was enclosed by walls including on the coast.  Then there was also a stretch of twin walls over the six kilometres from Athens to Piraeus.

This came into its own in the Peloponnesian Wars with Sparta of 432 BC to 404 BC.  Sparta was land-based whereas Athens was a sea power.  Sparta could not breach the walls and Athens could supply itself by sea and also launch raids of Sparta by sea.  Sparta eventually won in 404BC when they built a fleet that successfully challenged Athens at sea and they then tore down the walls.

However, Athens rebuilt the walls from 395BC to 391BC.  Sparta was defeated by Persia in this time and Athens rebuilt the walls with Persian support (because Persia though Sparta had got too powerful).  Roman General Sulla destroyed the Long Walls in 86BC.

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We are looking a bit further west.  Some buildings in Piraeus are at the bottom and the land in the background is the Island of Salamis.  Just in case there is any ambiguity, the vessel you saee is a container ship, and not an Athenian or Persian Galley.

In 480BC the Persians had won the Battle of Thermopylae and were advancing on Athens.  Rather than surrender, the Athenian citizens moved across to the Island of Salamis and abandoned the city for it to be sacked by the Persians.  Then the Athenian fleet pretended to flee in the Straits of Salamis, drew the Persians in and destroyed the much larger Persian fleet.

Most of the Persian army was forced to withdraw back to Persia and the forces left behind were defeated the next year at the Battle of Plataea.  The Persians never invaded Greece again.

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After leaving, looking back at the entrance of the Propylaea.

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