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Greece 8: Light on the Acropolis

I was not prepared for the crush of Athens precisely because I have always associated Athens with pictures of the Parthenon sitting atop the Acropolis.  You usually don't see many people or city buildings in those pictures.  This is because the Acropolis has parks around it and thrusts itself upwards quite a ways above the city.  Despite its elevation it is still a relatively leisurely walk to the top from one side, and a very fast way to arrive at 400 BC ( don't believe in PC calendar fads-- BC is what they taught me, and it works for me).

Very few photographs I have seen capture the beauty of the marble of the Parthenon and associated structures.  The light on the acropolis is dazzling!  So much light is reflected in all directions that even the sides of walls hidden from the sun remain somehow bright, composed of  shades of buttery light rather than shades of dark.

Experiencing the Parthenon is visceral and immediate.  We were not allowed inside the pillars due to renovation work, but that did not seem to matter.  The building is alive and muscular, physical in the way that muscle and sinew are physical, beautiful in the way animals inhabit form. Gawking does not begin to describe my contemplation of its pillars, but it will have to do.  I gawked slowly around the building.

Unlike European cathedrals which seem to make one feel submissive to their grandeur, the Parthenon was inviting, confident, as though it were the world's best health spa, a place that shared its grandeur.

My final note on the Acropolis is this purely architectural one that I am sure blooms in the mind of every visiting schoolboy:  how the sensually endowed caryatids contribute to such a firm Erecthion.

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Cydonia photo: ESA

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