Nowadays, a summer vacation in Greece won’t surprise anybody, but winter is quite a different story. If you consider yourself adventurous, follow my advice: go to Athens for winter holidays.
The ancient Parthenon on the Acropolis mount (the Athenian Acropolis) floats above the city. There are few cities in the whole world able to compete with the capital of Greece for its notoriety and fame.
I have never regretted the trip to Athens for the Christmas holidays. The story of this city goes deep to ancient times, and the lack of historical data is fully compensated by an amazingly imaginative Greek mythology.
As the legend says, two mighty gods, Poseidon and Athena, struggled for the patronage to the luminous Greek city at the base of a high mount. Their dispute dragged on and other gods of Olympus suggested they present a worthy gift to Athens.
Poseidon stuck his trident into the cliff and it burst out with a flow of sea water. With this, he bestowed sea power to the city. Athena drove her spear into the ground, and an olive tree came up. The gods judged Athena’s gift the worthiest for the citizens and placed the city under her patronage. Today, every guide will show you that olive tree on the Acropolis.
After landing in Athens, we rested in a hotel for a while and then went to the city. Athens in winter, with the traditional Christmas tree at the main square.
The Christmas tree in our hotel was good, but in winter, you may also see some other trees in Greece.
Like many northerners, my wife associates Christmas holidays with oranges, and despite it being December, Greece gladdened us with ripe oranges right outside! A small bright orange ball is like the sun. I’ll give it to her!
An event such as the changing of the brave guard at the Greek parliament draws many watchers even on miserable days.
No matter how you feel about the exotic guard uniforms, their “ritual dance” is neat, beautiful, and … comical
Winter holidays in Greece can be organized in different ways. In any case, you will hardly stay indifferent or, God forbid, be disappointed. Our time for those holidays was more than saturated with plans, as always!
Our main goals in Greece were the Acropolis, the Athens Archaeological Museum, the Corinth Canal, Mycenae , Thermopylae, Delphi, and the monasteries of Meteora.
Athens preserved memorials of many epochs and cultures, but you could never imagine it without the Acropolis.
The Acropolis of Athens is a 156-meter-long rocky mount with a flat top. It can be compared to the outdoor architectural museum. You start to admire it standing at its base, and get even more pleasure from seeing a bird’s eye view of Athens from the top.
There is a tiny Temple of Athena Nike near the Parthenon, a temple of the wingless Goddess of Victory. As the legend says, initially the goddess was winged, but the wings were cut by Athenians so that victory could never leave their city.
The place where the temple was built is connected with one of the most dramatic events in Greek mythology: the Athenian king Aegeus watched the sea from there, awaiting the ships of his son Theseus. Brave Theseus sailed to the island of Crete under black sails to kill the Minotaur and release Athens from the terrible human tribute. He promised his father that he would change the black sails for white in case of success, but forgot about the deal in the euphoria of victory.
When poor Aegeus noticed black sails on the horizon, he thought he had lost his son and, in desperation jumped from the rocks into the sea, which was later named the Aegean Sea.
I recommend that everyone climb this mount, visit this city and this country at least once in a lifetime. Yes, nowadays Athens is completely different–poor, but its history…. Every now and again, some historians say that this land is the former blessed Arcadia–the idyllic country of pastoral poetry, music, and eternal harmony.
The marble masterpiece Erechtheum or Erechtheion rises in the northern part of the Acropolis. This is the finest creation of classic art. Its decoration is the Kore Porch or Caryatids’ balcony: six sculptures of charming maidens supporting the roof of the temple.
Finally, the Parthenon crowns the Acropolis at the highest point of the rocky hill. The building is an amazing 69.5 meters long and 30.9 meters across, surrounded by 46 ten-meter columns.
Sure, the Parthenon’s interior decoration has not been preserved; however, it seems, there was no interior finishing in the white-stone antique temples. However, a long time ago there was, in the Parthenon, a 12-meter long, gold and ivory statue of the Goddess Athena made by the great Phidias. Our American readers have the lucky opportunity to see a replica of the Parthenon together with its Goddess Athena by Alan LeQuire in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.
The modern Parthenon is just the stones, but those stones are laid in ideal proportions. The building is unique in terms of geometrical construction, and its architect was a great master of perspective. The Parthenon has seen a lot in its long life, but the hardest experience awaited it in an age when historic buildings should have been respected.
During the Ottoman rule, a time of the misery for the Greeks, the Turkish army arranged a gunpowder depot in the Athenian Parthenon. The Venetians besieging the city had no scruples about firing cannonballs into it (shame on them!). The explosion seriously damaged this distinguished architectural memorial, and today it is only partly restored.
It seems like you could enjoy Athens for hours, days, and months. The Agora museum and ancient Corinthian capitals are great. How did the Greek masters manage to invent these ornaments?
It turned out to be as easy as ABC. The “models” are only a few steps away. Many thanks to Mother Nature. All you need is to notice.
Unfortunately, I can’t promise that Athens will turn out to be nothing but a feast and a fairytale for you. The Greek capital has many faces, and Greece is going through hard times nowadays. Just walk along these streets, try the roasted chestnuts, and draw your own conclusions.
The old Plaka, the very center of Athens, is going through hard times as is the whole city.
There are both ordinary and fashionable districts located at the base of the Athenian Acropolis.
The road brings us back to it again. And here’s one more Christmas tree, an olive, the Goddess Athena tree.
I am ready to forgive the modern Greeks a lot for those antique faces and bodies which belonged to their distant ancestors, but it is such a pity that those of the present day different today—they could be one of the most beautiful nations in the whole world! Thank God, these masterpieces of genius survived and we can stand in front of them for hours and watch them, forgetting to breathe.
Unfortunately, any holidays come to an end, but you will never leave Greece without presents! Our friends will be happy, and my wife won’t leave with just a single orange.
Athens in winter has stolen our hearts forever.