Ancient Athens: Why Didn’t Anybody Clean This Up?

It’s odd to wake up and think, I’m going to go see a mess today that was made before I was born. Ooooh, I better remember to take some good pictures! 

But seriously, it seems like things just fall apart, get left around for hundreds of years and then become a tourist attraction. I’m certain that if I left a mess in the kitchen for a few hundred years I wouldn’t be allowed back in there.

The High Point

Yes, we went to Athens and saw the Acropolis and the Parthenon. They’re kinda hard to miss. “Acropolis” literally means “high city,” and it’s smack in the middle of Athens with the Parthenon on top and lit up at night. You’d need to be blind or stay indoors away from any windows in Athens not to see it. It’s beautiful and wonderful and makes you ponder all the many people over the centuries that have seen it and left all these rocks laying everywhere.

Actually the Acropolis isn’t all that bad because a few years ago they picked up all the rocks they could find there and put them in the incredible new Acropolis Museum. It’s not the museum on the actual Acropolis, that’s the old one which is empty now. The new one is in town and doesn’t require actually hiking up a giant hill to see. Though if you do go, make sure you head to the top floor first and watch the video. It makes the rest of the museum make more sense. 

Stormy Weather 

Though the Temple of Olympian Zeus is pretty ruined, most of the leftovers have been recycled into other monuments and things. Someone actually cleaned up most of the piles of rocks. Only a few columns remain standing, but they are pretty picturesque and give you a sense of the scale of the temple.

Unfortunately, in 1852 one of the columns fell over in a storm (must have been a big storm!) and no one bothered to clean it up. I mean, if something falls over in your house, you probably shouldn’t leave it there for 160 years. It does give you a sense of how the columns are put together from parts, but really?

Fairly Tidy

The Temple of Hephaistos (or Temple of Vulcan for those who know the Roman names) is one of the best preserved temples in Athens. So there aren’t really any piles of rubble directly next to the temple, but since it is in the middle of the Agora of Athens you get to see plenty of rock piles nearby. If you want to see what some of these sites looked like before they turned to rubble, this is the place to go.

Athens really was great. After picking our way through the rubble and tourists, it was nice to sit down at a sidewalk cafe have a great pastry and enjoy the view of the big pile of rocks known as the Acropolis.