Tuesday, 7 September 2010

A quick visit to the city of Athens in Greece

The Acropolis of Athens
I recently visited Athens to participate at a medical conference. It was an opportunity for change as I am doctor at a hospital in Spain with a very busy daily program. Two days before our arrival in Athens we were informed that the hotel we originally booked was not available anymore and were told to make other arrangements. We did contact a local travel agent and also we searched on the internet. The local travel agents did find some hotel options that for some reason looked to be too expensive so I decided to researcher deeper online.

A travel website www.medestino.com featured the same Athens hotels but much cheaper to the prices originally offered to us. The web site looked very serious and very professional and to be certain we used their customer service telephone number and called them. The agent of medestino.com was very friendly and quickly confirmed the Athens hotel prices we found and also hotel availability which was great.

They even asked us which way of payment we preferred from paying via credit card to bank deposit. We then received our hotel vouchers and we started preparation for our Athens visit. The hotel we chose is called Stanley hotel and it is located in central Athens.
The Athens Airport is really modern and it was very easy for us to get around as we flew with Iberia airlines. We then took an Athens taxi to get us to our Stanley hotel. On the way we saw up on the Acropolis the Parthenon monument so we decided to visit it. The Acropolis of Athens is the best known acropolis in the world. Although there are many other acropolises in Greece, the significance of the Acropolis of Athens is such that it is commonly known as The Acropolis without qualification. The Acropolis was formally proclaimed as the pre-eminent monument on the European Cultural Heritage list of monuments on 26 March 2007. The Acropolis is a flat-topped rock which rises 150 m (490 ft) above sea level in the city of Athens, and it has about 3 hectares of surface area. The Parthenon is a temple of the Greek goddess Athena, built in the 5th century BC on the Athenian Acropolis. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece. Its decorative sculptures are considered one of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of ancient Greece and of Athenian democracy, and one of the world's greatest cultural monuments. The Greek ministry of culture is currently carrying out a program of restoration and reconstruction.

The Parthenon replaced an older temple of Athena, which historians call the Pre-Parthenon or Parthenon, that was destroyed in the Persian invasion of 480 BC. Like most Greek temples, the Parthenon was used as a treasury, which later became the Athenian Empire. In the 6th century AD, the Parthenon was converted into a a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin. After the Ottoman conquest, it was converted into a mosque in the early 1460s, and it even had a minaret. On 26 September 1687 an Ottoman ammunition dump inside the building was ignited by Venetian bombardment. The resulting explosion severely damaged the Parthenon and its sculptures. In 1806, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin removed some of the surviving sculptures, with Ottoman permission. These sculptures, now known as the Elgin or Parthenon Marbels, were sold in 1816 to the British Museum in London, where they are now displayed.

We did enjoy our brief visit to Athens. The conference did not allow us much time for ourselves. We only visited Acropolis and the Parthenon which is an experience it self. We returned back to Spain with British Airways as we first flew to London for a day medical training seminar.

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