Acropolis, Greece photo by Febiyan

The Acropolis is a citadel or a fortified area located at the top of Athens, the ancient Greek city. The Acropolis comes from the world Akro, the edge and the word Polis, city and this refer to an ancient site that was constructed above the city. Most of the Greek cities usually have their Acropoleis such as Corinth, Argos, and Thebes. The Acropolis was used as the center of social and economic life. It is also a place of safety for the locals during the periods of invasion. The most popular Acropolis in Greece is the Athenian Acropolis.

History of Acropolis

Most of the travelers do confuse the Acropolis with the Parthenon temple and it is best to let you know that the Acropolis and Parthenon are the same things. Although there is evidence that the first inhabitants that reach the hill of Acropolis by the 4th millennium BC. It was the statesman Pericles that brought about the construction program of some of the ancient buildings of the Acropolis in the 5th century BC. It took about 50 years to complete the construction project that was led by the architects Ictinus and Callicrates based on the plans of Pheidias.

The most imposing building among the Periclean monuments built on the Acropolis is the temple of Athena Parthenos also known as Parthenon. The Parthenon temple is a great symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian Democracy, and the Western Civilization and the construction for the site began in 447 BC and was completed in 438 BC. It is regarded as the apogee of the Doric order and this cultural monument was dedicated to the goddess Athena, the protectress of the Athenian citadel.

In Acropolis, Photo by Luca Nikoletti

Things to know before you go

Invest in a pass

It is not cheap visiting the Acropolis and it is better if you invest in the multi-site pass where you can explore 10 other archaeological sites. This pass is valid for five days and it gives you the opportunity to skip the lines and go straight in. The best way to buy this pass is by visiting the quieter sites. For instance, you can visit the ancient Kerameikos cemetery which is located below street level and it is under-visited to get a pass. Some of the other places not to miss are Ancient Agora and the 6th century BC Theatre of Dionysus.

Acropolis, Photo by Barbara A.B

Take your time before heading to the top

Most tourists head straight to the Acropolis peak to see the Parthenon’s snowy columns and it is best to avoid doing this. You are going to miss a lot such as the background information in the shiny museum located just below the Acropolis. In the museum, you are going to see 3D films and archaeological finds from the citadel. If you have limited time, you should check out the Archaic Acropolis Gallery where you will find lovely smiling statues of strapping naked youths with modest maidens. You should also ensure that you do not miss the glass-walled top floor for mind-blowing views.

Acropolis Museum, photo by Hristo Sahatchiev

Ensure you get there very early

Even if you are having the multiple-site ticket, it is best if you are among the very first at the gate when the Acropolis opens at 8 am or 9 pm in the winter. You can buy coffee at the Acropolis Metro station at 7:30 am before you stroll to the hill. This will give you the chance to beat the crowds and also enjoy the early morning light in Athens which is mind-blowing. This is a perfect time of the day where you can get Instagram-worthy pictures of the Parthenon. If you are not able to visit early in the morning, you can opt to go after 6 pm which is when the crowds have dispersed and you will get the chance to see everything before the site closes.

Use the secret way down

After you are done exploring the Acropolis, instead of coming down the way you came which will be filled with crowds, you can simply turn right just below the Propylaia to the Peripatos which is an ancient path that goes down the North Slope of the Acropolis. The entry is included in the ticket but most tourists miss this spot. You will then be rewarded with mind-blowing views across the oldest neighborhoods in the city, ancient caves, the Mycenaean wall, and the mind-blowing walls that were made from the remains of the original temples of Acropolis that was razed by the Persians in 480BC.

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