Imagining the past when walking through the present can be a challenging but inspiring learning experience. Being in a city that has a history that goes back thousands of years will have a lot to tell.
Learning from the past is the best way to have a better present and future. You don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.
Three main eras through the Athenian time period will be visited and interpreted.
Starting this journey off in 5th century BC: This marble path leads right to the Acropolis which was also known as the road to democracy. (Figure 1)
Construction started for the Acropolis in 5th century BC. Besides a fort and a place of royal residence, the Acropolis functioned as a place of worship for the Goddess of fertility and nature, and for her companion male god Erechtheus. (Figure 2)
This is an old road in Athens located below the high plateau of the Acropolis. In Mycenaean times small towns started to develop around the base of the Acropolis. (Figure 3)
Now traveling forward about 600 years to 11th century BC.: This is the Church of Panagia Kapnikarea which is a Greek Orthodox Church. Built in 11th century BC it is one of the oldest churches in Athens. This church is dedicated to Panagia which is the Virgin Mary. Notice how this church is intertwined between the newer and taller buildings around it. Not exactly something you would see back in the U.S. (Figure 4)
This is an interior image of the church for a different view and feel for it. The interior has certain preserved illustrations all over the ceilings and walls, which tells a story of its history within itself. (Figure 5)
Now fast forwarding to present day, 2017 A.D.: Here is a statue of Zeus in the archeological museum in Athens. This museum informs its visitors on events that have happened during the Athenian time period. (Figure 6)
Ending this journey at the Acropolis museum in Athens. This image shows ruins under the glass floors at the museum that date back to the Acropolis era. Museums like this one, and the archeological one that was talked about previously, are here for us to learn about the past and that helps shape how events will happen now and in the future. (Figure 7)
At around 1613 BCE, the island of Santorini had a cataclysmic event, the Minoan eruption. The caldera reached a VEI of 6 and the eruption column reached heights of up to 38 kilometers. This caldera forming eruption produced a 60 meter thick layer of pumice that blanketed the island.
One specific piece of pumice named Petros was born on this day. After experiencing a terrifying journey of being launched in the air and free falling for what must have felt like a lifetime, Petros came to rest. He resides on the Island of Thera, in the now town of Fira. It is at this place that his story begins…
At this outcrop of pumice, down in Fira Quarry, I patiently waited. I waited 3,630 years for someone to remove me from my prison of cement and silence so I could live a normal life. That day came when a study abroad class from America rescued me from my cage.
It is a this point that I, Petros, say goodbye to the trail that leads to where I was stuck living a life of solace. I realize at this moment, I am a free pumice. As I stare at this trail that leads to I lived for so long, I am stricken with sadness for I am leaving what I call home. Then a wave of excitement rushes through me as I remember the world that I’m about to experience.
This is it! The first look at this jaw-dropping place that I have always yearned to see. I am here because I was born into existence from a volcano, and these people came here to see what was the result of the same thing that created me. Something that is so destructive that can take life so easily can also give life and attract it from far and wide.
I study the currency known as Euro, it is what is used on this island and so much more. I quickly figure out how to use the money and make my first stop on the town.
At last, I purchase the legendary, mouthwatering greek food. My first choice is a gyro. The smell alone makes my stomach lurch out from me to try to get some. I gobble it down so fast I am not sure if I even chewed it. If I was ever offered a last meal, this would be it.
I decide to go for a walk up to the rim of the caldera. This caldera flung me into the air and gave me life. I am frozen in place when I gaze out into the distance. The deep blue shimmer of the water, the way the islands catch your gaze and call out to you, and the way the sun lights the sky for miles to see is almost to much to handle. I realize then the violent act that created me also created this unreal place that I look upon.
After being out in the scorching sun for most of the day, I need to cool off so I go for a swim. I have an uncommon advantage for a rock in that pumice is the only rock that floats. By being very porous and extremely light in density, I can float in the pool for hours to come.
After dousing myself with pool water from the fiery heat, I lounge in the shade with the pool by my side. The happiness I feel matches that of a child on Christmas morning.
Here I rest, on the wall that holds a dozen rocks by my side. Rocks that had to the same experience I did until someone rescued them. If this is where I shall sit for another 4,000 years, at least I shall not sit alone.
Out of all things to notice when first arriving in Greece, it was the marble curbs that initially caught my eye.
In the United States, people pay large amounts of money to have marble countertops or marble floors. There, it is a luxury to be able to afford marble products. Yet, in Greece, the streets in downtown Plaka are made out of slabs of marble. The floors in Athenian buildings regardless of wealth are marble. And many staircases in Santorini are also marble.
Here, most locals probably don’t think twice about it because marble is a commodity that is so widely used in day to day art and building techniques. But, a site like this is truly spectacular for the visiting American.
αʹ-1. This is a portion of the curb that started it all! I found it fascinating that the curbing was all marble, whether the area was wealthier in fashion or an area that portrayed a lower economic status.
βʹ-2. This road is the pathway to the iconic marble Parthenon at the Acropolis of Athens. Since Greece has been a place with a “glowing” reputation dating back to the Golden Age in the 5th century B.C, marble has been a favorite construction rock because of its beauty and rigidity against the elements.
γʹ-3. The Pentelic marble steps are the focal point to the main entrance of the Acropolis in Athens. Since the marble was mined locally at two main quarries in northeast Athens, the choice to use this specific rock was ideal. Although it was a process getting marble to top of the hill, it has been documented that the ancient Greeks had better building and stronger sculpting tools than what we have today. Unfortunately, the “recipe” for the creation of those tools has been lost over time, but these tools did allow the Greeks to build the Parthenon in under 15 years.
δʹ-4. The Parthenon has stood the test of time, mostly surviving several wars and centuries of governmental use. Due to a canonball hitting the structure and exploding stored gunpowder within, most of the interior walls and some of the marble doric columns were destroyed. Today, there is a renovation process underway to bring the Parthenon and its marble back to their former glory.
εʹ-5. Just west of the Acropolis is the Acropolis Museum, which has an entrance and interior mainly consisting of grey and white marble. Marble has homogeneity (or visual uniformity) throughout, making it a popular rock for construction. It is also very resistant to extreme conditions because marble is simply metamorphosed limestone that crystallized under high heat and pressure.
ϛʹ-6. Since marble is equigranular (having equal grain sizes), the metamorphozing process creates a denser rock that voids empty spaces and results in a strong building rock. Marble, although fairly resistant, is also soft enough to be carved and does not easily shatter. This is why columns as shown above have the ability to be carved in intricate detail near the captial, or top of the column.
ζʹ-7. The word “marble” comes from the Greek root word “mármaros” which means crystalline rock or shining stone. Marble is very common in sculpting due to the low amount of refraction, meaning that when light enters the rock, it sinks down a few layers before refracting light back to the eye of the observer. This gives sculptures a dense waxy glow and makes the illusion of the sculptures very life-like.
ηʹ-8. Although less popular in Santorini than in Athens, marble is a very popular accent rock. As seen in this picture, thin sheets of marble line the stair case near the hotel lobby.
θʹ-9. Here is another example of marble being used as an asthetically pleasing accent against the polished sandstone. Notice that the marble is strategically placed at the edges of each step where the most daily wear occurs. Marble is a very versatile and physically beautiful rock, hence its artistic and architectural popularity in Greece.
ιʹ-10. Another view of those same marble steps at the Loizos Hotel with a beautiful backdrop of an iconic white and blue Greek church to remind me of where I get to call home for a short while. For the next three weeks, I’ll be walking up and down these stairs, admiring them a little more than most would.
As the last morning in Athens quickly approached I searched my mind for a possible idea for this undertaking of an assignment. I wanted something special to me that held importance for my time here in Greece therefore I chose to document and photograph our journey from the beautiful city of Athens to the bustling little island of Santorini. The trip held importance to me as this would be my first time traveling on a boat which seemed like such a far off idea just a few days earlier when I had been sitting in the dry desert of Arizona
1st Entry: The journey for the day began with a brisk morning in Athens. As I stared out onto the empty Athens street taking in the city for the last time while the others prepared their belongings for the journey.
2nd Entry: The time quickly passes to the entering of the taxis. As all the bags are packed, it sets in that we will soon be leaving the bustling city for an island paradise on the blue Aegean Sea.
3rd Entry: Upon arriving at the docks, we stood for a short while and watched the plethora of cars and trucks pile onto the ferry. Here we first glimpsed the deep blue water that we would carry us to our destination.
4th Entry: Sitting and looking out towards the city allowed me to take in Athens for the last time, letting me marvel at the size. The journey was just beginning but I already yearned for the sight of Santorini growing larger over the horizon.
5th Entry: Taking a look at the path that we would travel to the island felt distant. The ferry took these trips everyday but for me it was an amazing experience.
6th Entry: The rain fell hard and heavy as we docked for our first stop in Paros seeming gloomy for some but the rain leaves a refreshing feeling. The mountains jutted from the ocean as if pulled up by the hand of Zeus himself. Though I knew that the islands around me had come into being through normal faulting, I couldn’t help but marvel at the distinct beauty of the land.
7th Entry: Though the journey on the deep blue water was beautiful there was still some work to be done. After leaving the rocky island of Paros we began learning about the tectonic setting that makes the Aegean so unique.
8th Entry:The stop at the final port before our destination, Naxos went quickly as the people poured off for their very own vacations on an island paradise. Soon we would make it to our very own paradise.
9th Entry: The island was swept off into the distance and we were on our way to the volcano were we would spend the rest of our month. Excitement began to build though we still had a short while before arrival.
10th Entry: Santorini loomed large ahead of us and my excitement reached its peak. The island looked beautiful surrounded by the navy blue water as the white building stood out against the rocky volcanic terrain.
11th Entry: After settling in on the beautiful island we made a slight journey to look out at the caldera of the massive volcano. The sight took my breath away as the light penetrated the dark gray clouds like a hand of god reaching out for the water. The journey was over but the adventure had just begun.
Every culture has its own unique cuisine, and it dates back to the very beginning of that country. For Greece, it dates back 4000 years and is a part of the history and culture of the country. Many of the ancient Greek foods are still present in the culture today; such as olive oil, white wine, wheat, and meat. I will be comparing the food in Greece today to how it was in the past, and how the food of a place can change within a culture. I will take you with me on a day’s worth of food in Athens, Greece.
At the start of the day we all have breakfast, traditionally, the Greeks had barley bread dipped in wine for breakfast, also served with figs or olives. Today a Greek breakfast usually consists of a pastry, such as the pastries pictured above, which can be sweet or savory, This is an example of how an old culinary custom can change within a culture through time.
Now it’s time for lunch. A gyro is currently common greek street food, it is made with some type of meat, tomatoes, onions, and a yogurt sauce wrapped with a piece of pita. The meat is grilled on a rotating skewer, cooked slow and long, which shows evidence of it from the Mycenaean Greek and Minoan periods. Gyros have also grown popular in other countries, which shows how one countries cuisine can influence another.
Many Greeks have coffee late in the afternoon. For many people, coffee is a necessity. The Greeks love their coffee, and have had their unique coffee since 1957. The frappe (pictured above) is a common coffee drink in Greece that is made from Nescafé, water, and sugar and has a thick layer of foam on top.
Now it’s time for dinner, or a pre dinner since most Greeks don’t eat dinner until nine at night. Pasta is considered to be a traditional Italian dish, with the first known record of it in 1154 in Sicily. But not many people know that in Greek mythology, it is believed that the god Hephaestus invented a device that made strings of dough. This was the earliest reference to a pasta maker.
At about nine or ten at night it is time for dinner. This is considered a more traditional Greek dinner, it consists of a Greek salad, yogurt sauce, dolma, spanakopita, gigantes Plaki, and bread. One of the foods in this meal that has been around since ancient Greece is dolma, which is grape vine wrapped rice. In Ancient Greece is was called fyllas. This shows how some of the first food eaten can still be a common meal in today’s society.
It is now about 2am, and to finish the day, a cup of gelato is the way to go. Gelato started in Italy but has since grown all over the world and is now a popular Greek dessert. Now the day is over and the day was spent eating amazing food in an amazing place.
Graffiti is found nearly everywhere in this country. From the upscale neighborhoods to the chaotic downtown, it dots the cityscape with messages about the great social unrest that turmoils this country. Amidst the mayhem, creativity and artistry also flourishes. Read through and experience what it may be like to face the problems of this fascinating place. No matter where I go in this beautiful country, the people of Greece will have something to spray paint on their walls.
A display of art, of McDonald’s logo and a portrait of somebody symbolic(?)
This roughly translates to “Reply to KINEZOΠOIHΣH”. It must be someone symbolic.
A Soviet Hammer and sickle is crossed out in front of the University of Athens. Communism is not welcomed here.
I had this partially translated to me by a lady nice enough to take her time. It says something about fire in the cells, riots and revolution are the way to freedom. The anarchy A is seen at the end. A prime example of the Greek’s internal struggles of economy and government.
Sentiments against the police here are derogatory it seems. Is police brutality a problem here? “To serve and protect” has a critical context to it.
A display of art. These mushrooms must have taken hours to finish.
This centuries old church has escaped any graffiti, but it is lined with plenty on its wall boundaries.
The anarchy A appears yet again. The ideology apparently is alive here.
All in all, the Greeks make the most of their lives and seem to generally be happy. This message exemplifies that. “Anyone can dig a hole. It takes a man to make it home.”
A message on the problems going on- They are too much for some.
I’m not sure what this means, but it was tagged in more places than just this. Perhaps it is a specific trademark by one artist.
Feminism, like in the USA, is an idea being taken up by many
The artist seemed to think many are blind to the things this country needs.
Fascism, an ideology I thought was dead, seems to be alive here. It has connotations to Nazism in this piece.
An interesting piece of an octopus. It is on a main street in Athens and took a while to make. Do police not roam the streets at night?
The economic crisis led to the assets of Greece being sold off to different companies. The Greeks struggled very much to get by. This message says a lot about that.
Greece is a very religious country, but some have lost their faith.