I feel like I am becoming desensitized to all things ancient and not taking the time to see and appreciate them appropriately. As such, I think I am skipping the National Archaeological Museum tomorrow and will be sleeping in. Hurrah!
Seriously, at times today when I saw something that was from “AD”, I was all, pssshhh. Today started at Starbucks, as I was unable to find another breakfast place. I should’ve just gone back to the other bakery, but I thought I would run into more in the direction I was going. Oh well. Then I went to the Roman Agora, as I had seen it yesterday and knew it to be a lot smaller than the Ancient Agora, so a good place to start!
The Roman Agora was built in the 1st century BC by Julius Caesar and Augustus. This was one large building that was in use until the 19th century. But they don’t know when it was destroyed. Which seems super odd, if it was in use as recently as the 19th century. I guess the area was in use that time, not necessarily the original building. But still. The area is pretty demolished, with the exception of some collonades, the entrance (the Athena Gate), a staircase, and a rear entrance. I was able to convince a lady to take a picture of me “being a column”. I was pretty stoked.
Then I went to the Ancient Agora, which started to be built in the 6th century BC along the Panatheniac Way, or the procession from the city of Athens to the Acropolis during the festival. It apparently was in its final form in the 2nd century BC. There were many, many buildings here. Some bigger than others, including temples. There was even an 11th century AD church. Random. Mostly it’s all ruins, but it was very cool to see how it was laid out and what the buildings had been used for. I especially enjoyed seeing the prison and reading about it. The sign said that they found bottles of hemlock (used to execute the prisoners who were sentenced to death) and a statue of Socrates. Archaeologists surmise that the statute was maybe there as a regret that they killed him.
It was pretty fascinating to learn that this area was covered over and had a neighborhood basically built on it until the 19th century. The excavation was pretty dang successful! I also liked in the Stoa of Attalos, which now houses a museum, there was a decree of an arbitrator’s decision. Pretty cool. I couldn’t imagine chiseling into marble an order like that, but it was super cool to see!
At one point in the Agora, I smiled at one of the workers and he, an older Greek gentleman, burst out saying, you must smile, you have beautiful smile! And then he asked me where I was from and just started yammering a million miles a minute! He told me four times to go to the museum, the Hadrian’s Library, and the Roman Agora. And he told me how many minutes away they were! It was cute. At the end he grabbed my hand and kissed it. I expected that kind of over the top behavior in Italy, not Greece!
After checking out as much of the Agora as I could (without a good layout to make sure I didn’t miss anything, I was on my own), I left to find lunch. But I realized I was going to walk by Hadrian’s Library, and my ticket was good for that, so I went in. It was cool, but at this point, a lot of the things were running together. But there was a very neat statute of Nike in there.
After that I found a gyro takeaway stand. Yes, I know, but I got a gyro and a DC for 3 euro. Come on, you can’t pass up cheap lunches like that! I was kind of surprised yesterday when I got a chicken gyro that the sauce wasn’t Tzatziki sauce. But then I remembered reading that a lot of times they use a different sauce for chicken than pork. It was kind of a mustard-y mayo. It was good. But today, I got a pork gyro and the same sauce was on it (different place). No french fries today, though. I ate my lunch in a sunny square and then made my way over the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Gate.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is the largest temple in Athens and it took a long time to finish. It was started in 515 BC, but stopped during one of the wars, only to be started again in 174 BC. But construction was halted soon because the architect died in 163 BC. Hadrian decided to finish it when he was emperor and it was finished in 131 AD. It was very large, but only part remains standing today. I could imagine how imposing it would’ve looked completely finished! Unfortunately, the area behind the temple was closed for the season. There was the ruins of a court building there that I wanted to see.
From there, I made the trip to the Panathenaic Stadium, aka the site of the first Olympic Games. Well, the modern Olympiad, in 1896. But actually, games have been held at that site for 2500 years. Just not in that stadium. It was very cool to be standing in an Olympic Stadium. It was entirely built of marble…the only one in the world, actually. And to stand on the track. I wanted to run on it and have someone take my picture, but I thought that might be too much. Don’t get me wrong, others were doing it, but they had people to take their photos!
There was an entrance to the inside of the stadium and it was neat. It used to be a cave. But even neater? When you walked up inside the rooms there are Olympic Torches and Posters from all summer games since 1896 and some winter ones, too. That was pretty awesome!!! I took photos of all of them!!
After I climbed up to the top of the stadium, I saw that there was a medalist podium on the track. I so wanted a photo on that! Thankfully, by the time I climbed back down, a guy and his mother were taking photos on it, so I asked them to take mine. And then I took one of the two of them. Fun!
By this point, I was tired, but needed to do some shopping on my way back. With the exception of location-specific gifts (in Scotland and Ireland), I am done gift-buying. Which means, really, I’m done Christmas shopping! I hope. We’ll see.
I tried something new for dinner tonight. Greek salad (which wasn’t a true Greek salad, but that was ok, I do not like feta cheese), a kebap (that’s how it’s spelled here…didn’t really like this, either…but I tried it!), and a really sweet glass of wine. Too sweet. And yet, too bitter, too. Strange combo. Definitely a more laidback day tomorrow after the last two!