Acropolis wow!

Seeing the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Acropolis wow!

  |   45 Comments

This is the website of travel writer, Michael Turtle. After working in broadcast journalism for a decade in Australia, Michael left Sydney to travel the world indefinitely and write about his discoveries.

The Acropolis, Athens, Greece

It’s always a bit strange, I find, actually going to one of the world’s most famous landmarks. There’s so much expectation there. You’ve seen so many photos – often making the place look better than it could ever be in real life – that you fear the actual thing couldn’t possibly live up to the hype. I was worried the Acropolis in Athens would be one of those.

Seeing the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Climbing the steps, it is hot. A steep cliff rises above me, a scattering of ruins lies around. Nothing to write home about yet. Tourists are paused along the path, taking photos of… I’m not really sure. One Japanese visitor is told off by the guards for using a tripod but I’m not really sure why. There’s no need for him to be using the assistance to photograph the unmoving objects in the hot sunlight – so there’s no real point in stopping him. But so be it. I walk further on and leave him to his sweaty mutterings, imagining speech bubbles of angry kanji characters.

Seeing the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Up the final set of stairs it’s starting the get slippery. Climbing on marble in flip flops makes you wonder if the stones are perspiring themselves. Perhaps it’s the strain of supporting so many visitors over so many thousands of years. I imagine it’s always been tiring, even if the material of the sandals have changed over the generations.

Seeing the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Seeing the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Getting to the top, I pause for breath. Not because of the steep incline I’ve just climbed, but because the beauty of the Acropolis has finally revealed itself. Everything that had been visible from a distance is in front of me but close up it takes on a new dimension.

I had wondered if it would live up to expectations. It does.

Seeing the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

The Parthenon at the Acropolis

The columns tower above, the scale something that could not be imagined. Unlike many ruins in Greece, it’s easy to picture the original form. The temple for Athena is a tribute which merges the human and the divine. All of Athens, her city, lies flat below but up here, closer to the heavens, you feel displaced from the minutiae of everyday life. There is a spirituality to standing atop the Acropolis that neither time nor cynicism can destroy.

Seeing the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Seeing the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

It seems even hotter up here. Are we closer to the sun? Is there a reflected heat from all the stone? Is it just a lack of shade? Under one of the few trees on top of the hill, bubblers of water allow visitors to quench the thirst and refill their bottles. One family has commandeered them all, though, like foreign invaders conquering and hydrating. Their small children use it as a bath, splashing around in the shallow basin. Really, it’s not that hot! And it’s my turn!

Seeing the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

It’s funny how the grandest of sites can be so impressive, despite the expectation. The most religious of places can be almost transcendental. But the little things somehow always creep in. A ban on tripods; slippery stairs; a queue for the drinking water. We are but mere mortals.

UNESCO world heritage siteThis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For more info click here.
You can see all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites I’ve visited here.

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45 Comments
  • D.J. - The World of Deej | Aug 29, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Beautiful pics…really need to make it to Greece, before they have to sell off the country..
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..California Route 1 – Big Sur to San FranciscoMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Aug 31, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      Do you think they’ll start with the Acropolis? Surely it would be worth quite a few euro?? :)

  • Elmer Cruz | Aug 29, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Such beauty.
    Elmer Cruz recently posted..Cervantino FestivalMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Aug 31, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      Yeah, it’s quite a stunning place – from every angle!

  • BlogDaz | Aug 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    love that night time shot, what a great photo.
    BlogDaz recently posted..Battle of the Pattaya Water ParksMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Aug 31, 2012 at 5:29 pm

      Thanks. I had to get high up on top of a mountain to get it. Not much else is higher than the Acropolis in Athens.

  • Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com | Aug 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    My first thought when I reached the Parthenon was like: why are there cranes here? It doesn’t look like its pictures in the postcards :D I had to spend over an hour there to really appreciate the beauty that is Acropolis.
    Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com recently posted..One Cold Day in the Grand Place, BrusselsMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Aug 31, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      Yeah, it seems like there is constant construction (restoration) work going on there. It does take away from the mood slightly. I wonder whether they’ll ever be finished?

  • Natalie | Aug 29, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    An amazing part of history so perfectly displayed for the current generation. I often wonder with this ruins, what people will think about them in say 300 years time.
    Natalie recently posted..Sumela Monastery and the Black MadonnaMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Aug 31, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      In 300 years’ time, everyone will probably be getting virtual tours on their ipads before they’ve even learnt to walk!! :)

  • Angela | Aug 29, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Fantastic photos, so much history enshrined in those ruins.
    Angela recently posted..A trip, a photo – Copacabana Beach in Rio de JaneiroMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Aug 31, 2012 at 5:32 pm

      If only the columns could talk… :)

  • Sophie | Aug 29, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Only an Aussie would climb Acropolis in flip flops ;)

    I think the Acropolis very much lives up to the expectations. Even on hot summer days with heaps of tourists, it’s quite possible to imagine how it once was.
    Sophie recently posted..Vecriga: UNESCO in LatviaMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Aug 31, 2012 at 5:33 pm

      Ha ha ha. We do everything in flip flops! Is there any other footwear? (And at least it wasn’t in crocs!)

  • Lillie - @WorldLillie | Aug 30, 2012 at 3:46 am

    Sweet article! The Acropolis totally exceeded my expectations, but what made it even cooler was randomly seeing Blues Brothers impersonators there: http://www.aroundtheworldl.com/2012/05/20/the-blues-brothers-at-the-parthenon-of-athens-greece/ :)
    Lillie – @WorldLillie recently posted..Workshops in Mexico for Language, Culture, and Arts: HablaMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Aug 31, 2012 at 5:34 pm

      Wow – that’s pretty hilarious! Not what you would expect at all at the top of the Acropolis. But a pretty unique impression (I assume).

  • Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey | Aug 31, 2012 at 4:26 am

    That second photo is gorgeous! And we know what you mean about fearing that reality will not live up to the hype. We felt that way about the Taj Mahal, then it turned out to be so much MORE than expected that we visited it on two different occasions!
    Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey recently posted..Dinosaur Bones and Cow Udders – Above Metapán, El SalvadorMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Aug 31, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      That’s great to hear that about the Taj Mahal. I haven’t been there yet but would have the same kind of concern. To be fair, there aren’t a lot of places that do disappoint… but there’s just always the fear that they will.

  • Abhishek Behl (Wild Navigator) | Aug 31, 2012 at 6:36 am

    Awesome :) – Thanks for posting

  • Laurence | Aug 31, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Love the night time shot of the acropolis. And also your description of your approach to it, and how it managed to meet you expectations, despite the minor niggles. You are right.. there is always something ;)
    Laurence recently posted..Win €150 of free accommodation with @Wimdu!My Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Aug 31, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      Grrr… there’s always something! :)

  • Cole @ FourJandals.com | Aug 31, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Beautifully written post about a beautiful spot that I really want to visit. I had high expectations for the Pyramids in Egypt. And they luckily blew me away.
    Cole @ FourJandals.com recently posted..Top 5 Scenic Drives in ScotlandMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Sep 2, 2012 at 12:45 am

      I’m pleased to hear that about the pyramids! I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with the Acropolis either.

  • Jess | GlobetrotterGirls | Sep 1, 2012 at 6:33 am

    Ugh, this makes me really want to go to Greece now. Why can’t the world get smaller instead of larger the more we travel! :) Great piece. I love the perspective about what your day is actually like the day you visit one of the world’s greatest attractions. Like when Dani and I went to Tikal and I had my first day of Dengue. Wasn’t really what I expected that day to be like :) but we had a good time anyway! :)

    • Michael Turtle | Sep 2, 2012 at 12:43 am

      I’m sure I’ll always remember going to The Acropolis but I probably won’t always remember the family who were hogging the water. The small things aren’t important, as such, by they are part of the experience.
      Having said that, I reckon you’ll always remember Dengue!! Poor thing…

  • Claire | Sep 1, 2012 at 11:34 am

    I’ve been there a few times but I still love it. I personally love the view of the acropolis and agora from the aeropagus. I can just imagine the cases being heard and Paul’s sermon as well.

    And your photos are gorgeous, but I recognize that bust of Antoninus Pius from the Stoa of Atalos in the agora.
    Claire recently posted..Tea Towel Giveaway With Quel ObjetMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Sep 2, 2012 at 12:40 am

      Ah, yes, how did that bust slip in there? It seemed to be pretty Acropolis-y, I thought… :)

  • Andrew | Sep 3, 2012 at 6:42 am

    Definitely go earlier in the morning to the Acropolis. I think I was up there before 10 and although sunny and warm, not insane like you talk about. Really is an impressive place though.
    Andrew recently posted..Calendar Photos from AugustMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Sep 4, 2012 at 6:37 am

      Yeah, if you get up there early you’ll avoid the summer sun and the tourist buses. It’s one of those things that I knew, but still couldn’t be bothered to wake up. I decided a sleep-in was more important than a comfortable day at the Acropolis :)

  • Jeremy Branham | Sep 8, 2012 at 12:57 am

    What commanding views over the city. Years later, we still admire the beauty of this place. I can only imagine the awe that this place inspired when it was first built and fully functional.
    Jeremy Branham recently posted..Interviews and Irish culture at a college football game in IrelandMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Sep 14, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      Gosh, when it was all intact and not the pile of ruins it is now, it would have been an incredible place. Especially considering that Athens would not have been nearly as big as it is now – it would have just added to the impact of the temples up on the hill.

  • Mary @ Green Global Travel | Oct 30, 2012 at 3:13 am

    Interesting angle on stating the pros & cons of the Acropolis. I’m glad to read that it’s worth all of the hype.
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..ECO NEWS: 5 Reasons the Romney Platform Is Bad for the EnvironmentMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Oct 31, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      Thanks, Mary. It’s definitely somewhere worth seeing. Like all of those places, though, it could do without the tourists!! :)

  • Sohbet odalari | Dec 11, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    acropolis looks really great under the light nice pictures. i like thanks

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 19, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      It’s beautiful with the night lights, isn’t it? And – more importantly – it’s not nearly as hot as it is during the middle of a summer day!!

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