Ticking the Acropolis Of Athens Off Your Bucket List
If you’re visiting Athens then there’s one thing you’re sure to want to do, visit the Acropolis. This is what Athens is known for. You’ve seen the Instagram pictures, you might even know a bit about it, but it’s got to be on your Athens itinerary.
Visiting Times & Tickets
The Acropolis, as you can imagine, gets extremely busy. Every blog post I read before going said to go as early as you can. The gates open at 8am so I was there at half 8 queuing to buy my ticket. Despite the fact I was ascending the slopes by 9am it was extremely busy. I thought to myself, maybe the fact that everyone online suggests to come at 9am means this is actually the busiest time of day. Wow, was I wrong. By the time we were leaving at 11am the whole slope was one dense, slow-moving queue. So yes, get there early! The earlier the better.
Entry into the Acropolis costs €20 or you can buy a combination ticket into all the archaeological sites for €30. This will depend on how much time you have in Athens (it’s more than one day’s worth) and how much you really want to see. The combination ticket is valid for 5 days and gives you access to the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, Hadrian’s Library, the Roman Agora, Kerameikos, Olympieion and the Archaeological Site of Lykeion. If you’re not sure then you can buy tickets individually but the combination ticket would be a saving if you wanted to see more than 2 sites.
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Once you’re through the ticket barriers you will ascend the hill. As you climb your way up to the Acropolis of Athens you will pass the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. This ancient stone amphitheatre is located on the southwest slope of the Acropolis. It was built in 161 AD by a Roman named Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife and renovated in 1950. It is in frequent use and has been graced by Frank Sinatra, Andrea Bocelli, Sting and Elton John, to name a few.
Once you reach the top of the hill you will have a magnificent view of the Parthenon. This is photo opportunity galore. As you circle the Parthenon you will be able to take photos from multiple angles. And there’s definitely opportunities to capture the Parthenon without too many tourists in the background if you’re clever with the angles.
However, be warned that security at the Acropolis is very strict. Of course they are trying to protect the site but security have been known to be needlessly aggressive. Do not sit on the walls. Do not touch anything. A journalist friend of mine took a flag to the Acropolis to take a photo for the newspaper to support of their football team back home. Apparently you’re not allowed flags at the Acropolis. We’ll leave that there.
But of course the Acropolis is amazing. It’s age, it’s size, it’s beauty. All breathtaking. It’s an experience I know I will never forget. Oh, but hold onto your hats – it’s probably the windiest place on earth.
Acropolis of Athens Museum
The Acropolis museum is sadly not included in the price of any combination tickets so it will cost you an extra €10 to enter. However, I highly recommend paying this because without a visit to the museum you won’t get the full affect of the Acropolis. The boards of information staggered around the Parthenon don’t give you any history, they simply explain the restoration process. And the mistakes they’ve made along the way trying to restore bits. *Heart breaks slightly*
The museum is a three storey building at the base of the Acropolis with a spectacular wall of glass to give you an incredible view as you browse the various artefacts and read the snippets of information. There are so many amazing artefacts saved from the site.
Take these statues below for instance. The real thing is in the museum and they’ve built replicas for the top of the Acropolis where they would have stood. Just one example of the many beautiful pieces in the museum.
The density of items on the ground-floor is pretty extreme but rest assured as you go up the density lessens. You won’t be there all day. And in fact, I thought it got more interesting as you went up. The second storey is mainly a cafe and bookshop but they have some really interesting videos on loop. One tells you what the scenes on the Parthenon marbles depict. The other, where all the pieces are now. The top floor then makes a lot more sense. This floor displays the whole of the Parthenon marbles as one piece to walk around. There are replicas where the museum is missing pieces – either because they have been destroyed or damaged, or stolen by the British Museum and the Louvre.
After Visiting the Acropolis of Athens
When I returned home to my Airbnb in Plaka I began doing some extra research on Google. I read more about the history of the Acropolis and found it fascinating. The Acropolis was built in the 5th Century BC as a central citadel for the city, with the temple built for the goddess Athena. However, over the years the Acropolis has suffered much damage.
During the Roman period the Acropolis became a Christian Cathedral and many of the original statues were destroyed. In the Ottoman period the Acropolis buildings were turned into mosques, which meant more destruction. In 1687 when the Turks inhabited the area, the Venetians bombed the Parthenon and happened to hit the gunpowder store. This explosion created the gap which can still be seen today in the South side (the North side has been reconstructed). Then in the early 1800s began the process of cutting up and removing parts of the Acropolis. First with Britain’s Lord Elgin, who took parts back to England. Followed by Greece’s first Curator of Antiquities, Kyriakos Pittakis.
As you can see, the Acropolis has had a tough time. So to be able to go and see what’s still standing, see the reconstructions, and the brilliant restoration work going on, is really something.
If you’re visiting Athens and interested in the ancient Greeks, religion and history, then I highly recommend a visit to Greece’s Acropolis of Athens.