Kasson residents continue their journey to Athens
Once the cruise ship docked in Athens and our tour group was gathered, it was off to check in at our hotel. We met our guide, James, who would be with us for the next five days, and headed to the Acropolis in Athens.
Sitting high on the hill is the Parthenon which was built over 2,500 years ago and dedicated to the goddess Athena.
This amazing structure contains 46 outer marble columns and 16 inner columns. The columns are slightly tapered with the corner columns also a little larger. It is estimated that over 13,000 blocks were used during the four decades of construction.
During the 6th century A.D. when Christians controlled Greece the temple was converted to a church. It remained a Christian church until the Ottoman Turks won control in 1458 A.D. and converted it into a mosque.
Facing an attack in the late 1600’s the building was converted into a ammunition and shelter area. When bombarded with cannonballs the building was damaged and many people sheltered there were killed. Partial restoration is in process and also to fix earlier restoration procedures that sometimes caused more damage than help.
One thought when looking at ancient buildings is how could they do this without our modern construction equipment such as cranes, trucks, computers and other tools. So are we any smarter than the engineers in those days?
Our guide mentioned one of the amphitheaters located on the Acropolis is where music programs are filmed that have been shown on TV. There were several tour groups that day but our guide said this was nothing like during the summer months when the place is really crowded.
A gun bunker site can still be seen overlooking the city as Germany occupied Greece during WWII and tens of thousands of Greeks were killed by starvation and at the hands of the Nazis.
When we came down from the hill we walked to Mars Hill that looks up to the Acropolis area. This is the location where the Apostle Paul would have preached to people.
A pastor with our group from Memphis, recorded a sermon from that site and sent it back to his church.
Our guide said don’t even think about trying to use the old steps cut into the rocks that are now roped off as before the newer inclined ramp path was built an ambulance would be parked nearby and on a regular basis people would fall and be injured and needed to be taken to the hospital.
On our way to the city center we stopped at the ancient marble Panathenaic Stadium, a building started in 144 A.D. and could hold 50,000 but was largely abandoned for centuries until excavated in the 1870’s. It was used for ceremonies and some athletic events for the first modern Olympics held in Athens in 1896. It was used for archery and the finish of the marathon races for the 2004 games.
Before walking to the Acropolis Museum we stopped at a Greek outside café and Genny said she wanted to try octopus. It didn’t taste that bad, but not something that we would eat on a regular basis.
The museum held original and copies of statues, stone panels of the upper area of the Parthenon plus ancient stone work. The museum was built on pillars and the ancient foundations, sewer and water systems that had been excavated and was opened just a couple of years ago for the public to view.
Since Aaron Edgar works with the city engineering in Fargo he spent some time looking at the layout of the ancient buildings and water systems.
In the morning a stop was made at the Corinth Canal which was started at the time of Nero but was abandoned until work begin once again centuries later and finished in 1893. It is four miles long and 70 feet wide and the walls were cut from limestone so each month the channel needs to be dredged to take out material sliding into the canal.
It connects the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea and dug at sea level so no locks are needed.
During WWII the retreating Germans set off demolitions on the side walls and the bridge so bridge structures and locomotives were dumped into the canal. It is too narrow for most modern ships so mostly now is used for small cruise ships and tourist boats. Since the water level is 300 ft. below the railroad and auto traffic, people also do some bungee jumping but did not see anyone doing that while we were there.
Our main stop was to the ancient city of Corinth where Paul wrote the letters to the Corinthians. It is located about 50 miles west of Athens, and really flourished in the first century A.D.
Our guide brought us to a large plate on the ground placed there during the time Paul lived there in 51 A.D. and put there by the city administrator in office at that time. He mentioned that he does not show every group this area but thinks it is important to show Christian-based tour groups.
Paul also had to flee this city when he preached against their god of Artemus. The museum had a lot of examples of pottery and statues showing examples of injuries and medical problems of that day.
Many marble statues of the Roman leaders were on display in the courtyard and instead of creating a whole new statue when leaders changed they just carved out a new head and placed that on the body.
The ancient Corinth sites were first excavated in 1892 and work continues today to uncover the ruins of temples, baths and buildings surviving from the Roman era.