Global Education

A pilgrimage to the Acropolis

By Denebola
Published: September 2007

By Julia Sklar

This summer my aunt and I had the outstanding opportunity to visit Greece, a country whose influences are forever popping up in American culture. Greece is a beautiful and wonderfully hospitable country, where even the simple act of walking down the marble streets built so many yea rs ago is an awe-inspiring activity.

I had the good fortune to visit Greece during one of the worst heat waves since the 1980s. When my plane hit the tarmac, the pilot announced that it was a whopping 116 degrees Fahrenheit, and there was no cloud coverage. On my trip, we spent about ten days traveling around Athens, the Peloponnese, and the beautiful island of Santorini.

I saw monuments that I have been learning about and wondering about for what seems like centuries. Though the Acropolis museum was closed while I visited, I still made my “pilgrimage” to the Acropolis itself. The Acropolis, which literally means “city at the top” is a high plateau like piece of land that is home to many ancient and sacred spots such as the Parthenon, Erectheion, and the Propylaea. I felt so small and insignificant looking up at these enormous monuments from one of the greatest ancient civilizations of all time.

My aunt and I took a day trip and traveled around the Peloponnese, a peninsula south of Athens that is home to many gorgeous seaside cities. There, we climbed up all 54 rows of the Epidavros theater which has better acoustics than modern constructions such as Lincoln Center thought it was built in the fourth century BC.

That day we also traveled to Nafplio, a famous seaside town perfect for lunch. Locals told us that it was in not only uncommon to go into the kitchen to pick out your fish, it was expected. That first day, picking out our fish for lunch, was a little uncomfortable. However, after that first day we always asked to see the fish at a restaurant and because of that our waiters and waitresses all thought we were Greek, and we ended up with better service!

We continued on to the Temple of Apollo and later the Corinth Canal where you can visibly sea the Gulf of Corinth and the Aegean Sea mixing.

It is sad to say that almost all of the beautiful landscape we took in that day is burnt to a crisp and some is still burning today. Because of the incredibly dry weather in Greece right now, acts of arson committed for political reasons got out of control and burned down the forests in over 50% of country, much of which was located in the Peloponnese.

At the tail end of the trip we traveled the 25 minutes to the crescent shaped island of Santorini. Santorini is a very small island that sits in the middle of the Sea of Crete. It is actually the caldera of a sea volcano, the effect of the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption. The caldera of Santorini was formed from an eruption in 1600 BC.

All of the houses in Santorini are built right into the cliffs, and are made out of a white plaster like material so they keep cool during the day. Santorini is the most surreally beautiful place I have ever been. The sky and water are almost indiscernible from one another and the whole island is surrounded by shimmering blue, and a radiant sun. Many people flock to the edges of the island for the best views of the sunset, and when it is over, people clap because of its beauty.

I frequently go on trips to Europe with my aunt during the summer, but Greece has been one of my favorites. It is a welcoming and ancient country where everything you touch seems to have a history. The food is magnificent wherever you go and the landscape serenely adds to the atmosphere of the country. This is a trip that has given me invaluable experiences, and unintentional history lessons. I cannot wait to go back.

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