Parthenon dedicated to patron goddess of Athens
One day in Athens? Heading to the Acropolis is one of the most popular destinations for visitors. For my Athens tour, guide Katia explained that the word “acropolis” means “the highest point in the city.”
The famous landmark was constructed in the 5th century BC and it demonstrates the Greek’s great expertise in architecture.
“They didn’t have heavy equipment back then like we do today,” she said. “It was all done the hard way. ”
In honor of Athena’s crowning achievement, the city has no skyscrapers. Such tall construction is not permitted, Katia said, so as not to detract from the Acropolis.
The Acropolis was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. “The Acropolis is a symbol of democracy and the Greek civilization,” Katia said. “It also symbolizes the beginning of Western civilization.”
The Parthenon was dedicated to Athena Parthenos, the patron goddess of the city of Athens and the goddess of wisdom. The story goes that the god Zeus suffered from headaches so he asked Hephaestus, the Greek god of blacksmiths, to help him. Hephaestus opened Zeus’ skull without hurting him and out sprang Athena – full grown and in a suit of armor.
Zeus gave his daughter the gift of wisdom and the owl became Athena’s symbol, Katia said. “The ancient Greeks believed that the owl was wise, that it knew everything,” she said. “You can now see the owl on the Greek Euro coin.”
The Acropolis is home to several big beautiful dogs. I saw five or six – very independent and aloof – but they definitely have made themselves at home. Napping in the Acropolis ruins, the dogs are fed and cared for by local vets and perform a very useful task, my Acropolis guide said.
“They have never ever bothered tourists,” she said. “But at night when the Acropolis is closed, they protect it. They know who should be here and who shouldn’t.”
Article and photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch