Athens’ Acropolis attracts a global audience hungry for history
When you visit The Acropolis during the summer months, expect crowds. In fact, The Acropolis hosts more than 2.5 million visitors from January through October. However, despite those crowds, expect to enjoy quiet moments for gazing at and studying the historic wonders that exist there.
Yes, you will observe the construction work site that is the Acropolis,…
That’s me striding off to the right. Notice the crane and scaffolding around the Parthenon. This is a giant construction zone.
…but you will also observe a global audience entranced by ancient history. Whether they arrive alone, with a spouse or friend, their family, or an entire tour group, nearly everyone here is a history fan. Yes, perhaps the itinerary stop is one they can’t opt out of; however, once on the hallowed site, I would dare to say their reticence evaporates.
Even if you don’t know much about Greek history and ancient architecture, there are many detailed signs at The Acropolis with illustrations and diagrams to inform you about what you’re seeing.
For your €20 ticket, you can walk the grounds considered holy by the ancient Athenians.
My husband and I were enthralled with the Erechtheion and it’s caryatids, the columns in the forms of female figures.
When my husband and I visited The Acropolis in late May, it was crowded, but I supposed it could have been busier. We approached The Acropolis from the Plaka neighborhood to the south, taking some back streets that slowly ascended as we neared the hilltop.
Small restaurants, tavernas, and boutiques lined the terraced, tree-covered lanes and stone and marble-paved thoroughfares of the Plaka neighborhood.
Once we reached the Acropolis entrance gates, we blended into the line that was forming and seemed to be made up mostly of tour groups. The tour group line eventually veered from our path, since their ticketing arrangements had already been prepared. We, however, remained in the line and inched our way toward the ticket booth.
I looked around at the international variety of people. A party of four ahead of us in line consisted of a husband and wife, their small child, plus one other man.
The husband asked whether a student discount was available off the 20 Euro ticket price. The ticket clerk indicated that yes, he would receive a discount if he provided a college identification card.
“Mine is from a college in England and my friend goes to school in Chile,” the husband said.
“That’s fine,” the clerk replied in his Greek-inflected English. The two men showed their student cards, received tickets for the entire group and sped along.
We quickly purchased our two adult tickets and entered the gate.
Those who entered with us included families, empty-nesters, retirees, young solo travelers, teenagers. The mix of languages babbled across the grounds: Greek, German, English, French, Chinese, Italian, and others I couldn’t identify.
In the roaming clusters of people navigating their steps over the marble walkways and ledges, I spotted a young man wearing a Texas Christian University t-shirt, a woman in a billowy sundress covered in a pattern of crimson roses and greenery.
I noticed a child in a black tank with a metallic gold Nike logo. I smiled at the irony: here we were, at the palace where Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war, once held Nike in her hand.
Over the course of the day, thousands of sight-seers inched up the ancient ramp of The Propylaea, the renowned entry to the very top of The Acropolis and its Parthenon, Erectheion and the Temple Athena Nike.
Once they reached the top, it was gratifying to see that all those travelers were not expecting to see a performance, ride a roller coaster or experience any other type of attraction. Those travelers had journeyed from across the globe to simply experience history.