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Athens, Greece

Everyone knows something about Athens.   Perhaps it is in regard to the Olympic, or ancient architecture, or philosophers, or great battles between great armies.   Athens is the capital of Greece with a population of just over 10,000,000.   The city and Greece in general was showcased during the 2004 Olympics.   But this is not going to be a history lesson — a sign of relief.

This is the fourth Princess cruise we have been on and this is first time that we saw a fueler come along side.   Maybe fuel was taken on while we were away from the ship, I don’t know.

The Acropolis hill (acro - edge, polis - city), so called the “Sacred Rock” of Athens, is the most important site of the city and constitutes one of the most recognizable monuments of the world.   It is the most significant reference point of ancient Greek culture, as well as the symbol of the city of Athens itself as it represent the apogee of artistic development in the 5th century B.C.

Foremost the most important structure of the Acropolis is the Parthenon.   The Parthenon is really the results of an architectural genius.   It displays a remarkable understanding of optical illusions and the correction of these illusions.   One of the several refinements was in the design of the columns.   These columns were inclined inwards towards the top to counter the appearance of falling outwards.   The axes of the corner columns lean inwards 2.65 inches and the axes of all the columns, if projected, would meet at a distance of a mile above the ground.   The shafts of the columns have a "swelling" in the middle to counter an appearance, if straight lines, of curving inward.   Lastly, the corner columns are stouter as it was found that they appeared thinner against the open sky than those seen against a solid background.   There were similar refinements in horizontal lines which I shall not go into.

The first photo below is of the Erechtheon, another prominent building of the Acropolis.   Note the modern (white) blocks of Pentelic marble in the wall which have been used in the reconstruction of the building.   The blue limestone foundations of the Old Athena Temple (built c. 510-500 BC and destroyed by the Persians in 480 B.C.) are visible all along the south of the Erechtheon.   The tree to the left is an olive tree.   The six draped female figures or Caryatids, 7 feet 9 inch high, are spaced like the columns at the other end.   All figures face southwards; the three western lean on the right and the three eastern on the left leg.   This is another refinement for the correcting an optical illusion.0

The first photo immediately below is the first Olympic stadium — built for the first Olympic games held in Athens.   It was originally a natural hollow part of the ground between the two hills of Agra and Ardettos, over Ilissos river.   It was transformed into a stadium by Lykourgos in 330-329 BC for the athletic competitions of the Great Panathinaea Festivities.   Between 140 and 144 AD, Herodes Atticus restored the Stadium, giving it the form that was found at the 1870 excavation: the horseshoe construction with a track 204.07 meters long and 33.35 meters wide. It is believed that the Stadium had a seating capacity of 50,000 people.   Separating scales were built between the tiers and on the base of the sphendone there was a portico with Doric-style columns; another portico was placed in the stadium's facade. Herodes possibly restored also the Ilissos river bridge on the Stadium's entrance, making it larger and adding three archways on its base. The bridge was standing there up to 1778 and a part of it was excavated in 1958.   At the Roman times, the Stadium was used as an arena, with the addition of a semi-circular wall on the north that was corresponding to the sphendone of the southern side.   The modern times restoration of the Stadium was conducted at the end of the 19th century for the first Modern-Day Olympic Games that were reborn again in 1896.   Here is a very nice night photo of the Stadium.

A short stop at the Presidential palace was an opportunity for the photo of a Presidential guard.   Whoa, this is a combination of 4 photographs.

Back on board the Golden Princess we got a good look at the beautiful city of Athens.

Next Port Call, Katakolon, Greece