Athens, Greece: Ancient Ruins

I’ll begin with the obvious – the ruins of the ancient city.  This part of Athens is experienced primarily by walking around it.  There are tours and guidebooks and a lot of interesting history, of course, but for me it was more useful to simply wander and absorb.

Athens represents a classic Greek city state – a fortified hill top surrounded by fertile countryside that operated independently in an established replicable form.  The Acropolis held the religious center and place of retreat in times of strife.  On its lower slopes were the cultural institutions, theaters, market places, sports arenas and then the town, the walls and the exterior burial areas.  Athens at its height had a population of over a quarter million – about the most that could be supported by the immediately surrounding landscape and the wealth of satellite colonies.  Unusually for Greek a city state, it was so large that it couldn’t support its populace on local grain and had to rely on imports from its sea access point.  The Athenians built and defended two walls over three miles long to protect their road to the then-separate port town of Piraeus.

Stay tuned for more on Athens the modern city and some of the lovely museums in subsequent posts.

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