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Today, I visited the Temple of Zeus, the one remaining Athen’s ancient historical site I hadn’t yet seen since arriving here 4 days ago. I also went to the relatively new Acropolis Museum, constructed in 2009. The museum is exceptional and only cost 5 Euros, so it’s a very good deal. This post will be about those two sites, along with Kerameikos and Hadrian’s Library, both of which I visited in the last couple of days. I will also tell you a little bit about some silver jewelry I bought.

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By the by, if you visit Greece, you can either pay 2 Euros for each of the 7 sites or 12 Euros, where you can see all of them (Acropolis, Roman Agora, Ancient Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Temple of Zeus, Dionysus Theater, and Kerameikos). The only pre-requisite is that you view all of the aforementioned within a one week window.  They are more or less within walking distance of each other (3 kilometers maximum), so you should be able to cover all of them within that time frame.

The Temple of Zeus was constructed at a large open area, measuring approximately 250 by 130 meters. The Temple was one of the largest in the known ancient world. At one time, there were two rows of 20 columns on the sides and three rows of 8 columns on the ends, giving a total of 104 columns. Today, there are only 16 preserved columns that comprise the site.

After visiting the Temple, I walked to the Acropolis Museum and I was immediately impressed by this ultra modern building, which ironically, sat on top of an excavation site, that could be viewed through some sort of plexiglass material as you entered the building. What an unbelievable site! The Acropolis Museum was founded to exhibit all the significant finds from the “Sacred Rock” and its foothills. From the literature that I was given, the building was designed by architect Bernard Tschumi, with assistance from Michael Photiadis. The museum was “dictated by three major requirements: it was necessary to maintain visual contact with the monuments of the Acropolis; to exhibit the Parthenon sculptures in their entirety; and to adapt the building to the archaeological excavation that extends across its foundations.” In my opinion, they accomplished all 3 goals. I was especially impressed with the breathtaking view of the Acropolis, the surrounding hills, and the city of Athens.

Inside the Parthenon Gallery, the entire temple frieze is displayed, i.e., it has the same exact dimensions and orientation as the Parthenon. Wow! It’s almost as if you are taken back in time, where you see the original design, sans destruction. Quite impressive! Besides this gallery, the two other floors hosts what is called, “The Gallery of the Slopes of the Acropolis” and the “Archaic Gallery.” Magnificent statues and votive displays, along with other artifacts can be viewed in these two places. Of course, they had a “NO CAMERA” rule which I broke shamelessly (along with many other people). Rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules. Grin.

These are a some of the photos I took at both the Temple of Zeus and the Acropolis Museum:

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Yesterday, I visited what is supposed to be the oldest and largest Attic cemetary in Athens. Kerameikos is where prominent citizens were buried, usually along a main throughfare, called the Sacred Way. These above ground graves, extended outside the walls on the northwest outskirts of ancient Athens. The site is dominated by stately tombs with sculptural masterpieces. The Demosian Sema, a public cemetary for the burial of prominent war casualties, is in the same area. The small museum on site was quite interesting as well. Also, notice that the deceased is usually depicted with family and friends and/or shaking hands with them, almost as if a final goodbye is being spoken. These bucolic peaceful scenes were quite common on the statuary I saw at this ancient site.

Hadrian’s Library was a relatively small excavation site, located near the Athens Flea Market. This library was created by the Emperor Hadrian in 132 AD. The library was on the Eastern side, with rolls of papyrus “books” were kept. Adjoining halls contained reading rooms and the corners served as lecture halls. These are some of the photos from my visits to these 2 sites:

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Buying silver or gold jewelry in Greece or for that matter, anywhere in Europe is a fairly straight forward affair in my opinion. Basically, the seller has to ensure he recoups the following: 1. Prevailing rate of gold/silver per ounce on the world market; 2. Cost of design – much cheaper if the jewelry is stamped or made in a mass mold, or more costly if it’s handmade; and, 3. Desired profit margin of the jeweler. For the buyer – you want to buy from a reputable and recognized jeweler. In Europe, you will find that most reputable jewelers primarily deal with 18k gold, which means that it has 18 parts gold and 6 parts one or more additional metals, making it 75% pure gold. European gold will be marked with 750 (75%) or 585 (58.5%, i.e., 14k). Regarding silver, do not buy anything that isn’t stamped with 925 Ster (92.5% sterling silver).

Let me say this up front – I WAS SHOCKED BY HOW MUCH GOLD HAS APPRECIATED!!!!!!! Seriously folks, I do not buy much gold, so when I was told the price of an Alexander The Great (with Athena on the flip side) gold medal, I almost lost my “cookies.” Lucas Delis, the owner of Takis Jewelry, told me that the 7.5 ounce medalion was north of $800, sans gold necklace. Wow! I had showed him a very nice 18k St. Francis of Assissi medal my mom had purchased for me, when she visited Portugal almost a dozen years ago. I don’t think she spend more than $100 for that piece, although that piece was just over 5 ounces.

In any event, I got over my love affair with the gold Alexander The Great medal and ended up purchasing his lesser brother, the sterling silver replica for 30 Euros, after Mr. Delis agreed to negotiate down from 35 Euro and throw in a leather necklace. By the way, I really enjoyed chatting with Mr. Delis, who has been part of this 100 year plus family business his entire life. He was quite honest in my opinion and more important, I was very comfortable negotiating with him. If you ever get to Athens, his jewelry shop, Takis Jewelry is located at 87, Pandrossou Street, ZC 105 55. Email takisjewelry@yahoo.com

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