We love writing about travel here at World Words, but our talents aren’t limited to print and web. We’ve also got a knack for composing great audio scripts and we’ve been doing just that for the lovely folks over at Cities Talking.
Cities Talking is a nifty little app that lets you explore cities for yourself, using GPS and a virtual guide. No need to traipse around after an umbrella-wielding leader; with Cities Talking, you can set your own pace and skip over any sights that don’t strike your fancy.
Athens: The Ancient Civilisation Walk
We’ve penned several of these audio guides, but the latest script to hit the (metaphorical) shelves is ‘Athens: The Ancient Civilisation Walk’. This handy little helper not only helps you find your way around the Greek capital, but also covers the best of the historic sites, from Syntagma Square all the way to the Acropolis and beyond.
And what’s even better, it includes information that you’re probably not going to find on your own. For example, do you know where you need to go in Athens to see the skirt-wearing, fuzzy pom-pom-clad Evzone Greek guards? Or where St. Paul is said to have preached to the Athenians?
If this kind of thing tickles your fancy, you can download the full audio tour here and take it for a spin around Europe’s oldest city.
In the meantime, here’s a little sneak peek to whet your appetite. Below, we look at one of the most popular sights on this walk: the Acropolis (as well as its star attraction, the Parthenon).
What is it?
Only the most historically important ancient site in the entire world! Located in the heart of Athens, the Acropolis is a complex of buildings dedicated to the goddess Athena.
The Legend Behind the Acropolis
Every ancient city has an origin myth, a legend passed on throughout the centuries that explains its creation. The Athenian story goes that the city was founded by Keprops, a Phoenician who started to build on an immense rock on the coast. During Keprops’ reign, it is said that the Olympian gods began competing for the new city and that the lucky winner would have the new settlement named after them.
The contest would be decided in favour of whichever god could produce the most valuable legacy for the city’s new human inhabitants. Sea-god Poseidon made a saltwater spring, while Athena, the goddess of wisdom, made an olive tree. It was up to the rest of the gods to choose the lucky winner. They decided that the olive tree was more useful because it produced oil and wood and that is why Acropolis’ greatest monument — the Athena Parthenon — is dedicated to her.
A History Lesson: the Acropolis
The area around the Acropolis was first inhabited during the Neolithic period (between 4,000 and 3,000 BC) with the very first temples on the site built during the Mycenaean era (between 1,600 and 1,100 BC). People continued to live on the site of the Acropolis until the late 6th century, when the early buildings were all but wiped out by the Persians on the eve of the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC. It was a costly and difficult job to rebuild the city of temples, but lucky for us, the then leader Pericles managed to get it done.
A History Lesson: the Parthenon
Alas, there were worse things in store for the glorious temples of the Acropolis. In 1687, Athens was under Ottoman rule when the Acropolis was hit with another stroke of bad luck. During a conflict with the Venetians, the Acropolis was fired upon. As the Turks thought it was a handy place to store gunpowder, it didn’t take long for the Parthenon to ignite and the most iconic building in the Acropolis was severally damaged. To this day, the Parthenon is still undergoing renovation.
The Parthenon Stats
The Parthenon is the biggest Greek Doric temple ever built and is the only one built completely from pentellic marble — although the roof was originally built with wood. It once housed a 40-foot high statue of Athena, which has (sadly) long since disappeared. The building was completed in 438 BC, which means it has dominated the Athenian skyline for 2,500 years. For the first millennium, it was the most important temple within the ancient Greek religion.
Take your time looking around this incredible site — it is not only home to the Parthenon, but also many other ancient buildings such as the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion and several other shrines. After exploring the ancient site, it’s worth heading to the Acropolis Museum, filled with even more ancient artefacts and replicas.
You can listen to excerpts from more Cities Talking guides here — all written by the expert World Words team. Check out our latest projects here or follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with all World Words news. Enjoy!
Parthenon image courtesy of Neil Cummings via Flickr