The Parthenon is probably the most well known site in Athens and for good reason. Built in 447BC, it’s a wonder that so much of the structure remains intact despite the fires, the invasion of the Ottoman Empire, then the invasion of the Venetians - not to mention the petty pillaging. It is as close to a miracle as you can get.
The structure itself is absolutely breathtaking. Sitting atop Acropolis Hill, the Parthenon is visible from most parts of the city but it's the up close and personal view that really leaves a lasting impression.
I did my research before I set off to the Parthenon and from everything I read I was intent to:
a) Start early to avoid the rush.
b) Buy the combo ticket to get in to see other Ancient sites, and
c) Wear shoes with good grip as the steps up to the Acropolis are marbled and slippery.
A few days out from leaving for Athens, the news coverage showed temperatures in Athens were reaching nearly 40 degrees and that the Acropolis was being closed from the hours of 11am until 3pm for safety reasons. Starting early was my top priority.
And so began another early morning in Athens. The Acropolis opens up at 8am so that was the aim - be at the ticket box at 8am. I arrived at 9.30am. After a 30 minute walk and a Greek donut in my belly, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the line at the ticket box was only 6 people long and the steps to the top were empty.
Some forewarning, the steps to the ticket box are the hardest part but from there onwards it's a piece of cake. And the reward for your efforts? Well just look at it.
Top facts about the Acropolis and Parthenon:
The Parthenon is the big pillared structure on the top of Acropolis Hill. The Acropolis itself consists of the Parthenon and a few other structures the Parthenon was built in 447BC.
The Parthenon has suffered significant damage over the years, the first instance of which was caused by fire. When a major fire broke out in the third century AD, the Parthenon's roof and much of the sanctuary's interior were destroyed.
In the sixth century AD it was converted into a Christian church. The renovations made to The Parthenon inevitably led to the removal of some of the original sculptures.
After the invasion of the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1453AD, The Parthenon was converted into a mosque, leading to more renovations.
In 1687, the Parthenon was severely damaged by an explosion, the result of conflict between the occupying Ottomans and the attacking Venetians. The Ottoman's had ammunition stored inside The Parthenon, which was ignited when a mortar hit. The explosion destroyed the Parthenon's roof and many columns.
In 1806, some sculptures were removed from the Parthenon by the Earl of Elgin. These sculptures are currently housed in the British Museum in London. The subject of ongoing debate, Greece has been trying for many years to have the sculptures returned to Athens.
If you're able to, visit the Acropolis Museum before you go to the Acropolis itself. There's not too much information about the Acropolis up there on the hill and frankly, your time is better spent marvelling rather than reading. On top of that, the Acropolis Museum is very informative, beautifully laid out and filled with ancient artefacts from the Acropolis. What's more, entry costs just €5 - it's well worth a visit.
A ticket to see the Parthenon is now €20 and a combo ticket is €30. The combo ticket gives you access to 6 sites in total so if you plan on visiting a few different sites, it's well worth the extra €10. Most other sites cost from 4 to 8 to enter.
Definitely wear shoes with decent grip - the marbled walkways must be a nightmare in wet weather.