A Travellerspoint blog

Christmas Eve.

More Ancient Remains and a taste of modern Athens

We had purchased the combined entrance ticket for ancient remains; mine cost 30 Euros, my husband's OAP one cost 15 Euros. They both allowed us entrance to seven sites. His was good value as there is no additional senior discount in winter, but all sites for adults are half price in winter anyway. I had to visit all seven to even spend my 30 Euros. We managed this, but had to do them all over three days instead of the permitted five as all the sites closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

On Christmas Eve, we began by visiting Kerameikos, our fourth ancient site. I must admit this was my personal favourite of all the ancient sites we visited for a number of reasons. These reasons were: it was not busy; it had the remnants of ancient buildings, it had beautifully ornate tomb stones, it had an interesting museum, there was a nearby Greek church which looked good in all the photos we took and it was our most exotic encounter with nature in the form of a passing tortoise.

We got to this site by taking the metro to Kerameikos station; we could also have walked to it from Thissio. Kerameikos is situated both inside and outside the ancient city walls of Athens. It was originally on the banks of the Eridanos River. Inner Kerameikos was an area known for its pottery as the clay deposits from the Eridanos River were ideal for pottery. We get the English word ceramics from here. Outer Kerameikos was a cemetery and the site of the Ηiera Hodos, or the Sacred Way, along which the procession for the Eleusinian Mysteries travelled. The Eleusinian Mysteries were initiation rites which were held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone. These took place at Eleusis, a town in west Attica.

Looking across inner Kerameikos.

Looking across inner Kerameikos.

Inner Kerameikos.

Inner Kerameikos.

Inner Kerameikos.

Inner Kerameikos.

Inner Kerameikos.

Inner Kerameikos.

Inner Kerameikos.

Inner Kerameikos.

Inner Kerameikos.

Inner Kerameikos.

Outer Kerameikos, cemetery.

Outer Kerameikos, cemetery.

Outer Kerameikos, cemetery.

Outer Kerameikos, cemetery.

Outer Kerameikos, cemetery.

Outer Kerameikos, cemetery.

In the museum.

In the museum.

In the museum.

In the museum.

Passing wildlife.

Passing wildlife.

When we had finished looking at Kerameikos, we walked to the Ancient Agora. This walk led us towards Thissio and through part of Thissio market. A railway line actually cuts through part of the Ancient Agora site. The Agora is situated on a street filled with restaurants. There is a church near the entrance to the Agora.

The Agora was originally a commercial area with a marketplace and many public buildings. There were several temples here including: the Temple of Hephaestus, the Temple of Ares, the Temple of Zeus and Athena and the Temple of Apollo. The Stoa of Attalos was reconstructed on the east side of the Agora and is now a museum, housing clay, bronze and glass objects, sculptures, coins and pottery.

The best preserved of the Ancient Agora's buildings is the Temple of Hephaestus. This is located on a hill and has great views towards the Acropolis.

Another largely intact building, down near the Stoa of Attalos, is the Church of the Holy Apostles which dates back to around the late tenth century. I noticed a little fountain near here with a fish and a trident on it, so I assume it is connected with Poseidon.

Temple of Hephaestus.

Temple of Hephaestus.

The Acropolis from the Ancient Agora.

The Acropolis from the Ancient Agora.

The Temple of Hephaestus.

The Temple of Hephaestus.

Statue of Emperor Hadrian Ancient Agora.

Statue of Emperor Hadrian Ancient Agora.

Peter at Ancient Agora.

Peter at Ancient Agora.

Odeon of Agrippa.

Odeon of Agrippa.

Fountain of Poseidon?

Fountain of Poseidon?

The Church of the Holy Apostles.

The Church of the Holy Apostles.

The peacock , symbol of Hera.

The peacock , symbol of Hera.

Stoa of Attalos.

Stoa of Attalos.

Masks of comedy and tragedy.

Masks of comedy and tragedy.

Stoa of Attalos.

Stoa of Attalos.

Statue of Triton, Odeon of Agrippa.

Statue of Triton, Odeon of Agrippa.

After the Ancient Agora, we walked through Thissio which was absolutely packed with people. We went back to Monastiraki Square, then headed through the modern shopping streets. I don't know if this area is always heaving, or if it was just so busy because it was Christmas Eve, but we could scarcely move for the crowds. We stopped at a large square to have a look at the cathedral of Athens.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Annunciation, or more simply just Metropolis, is the main cathedral of Athens. Construction of the Cathedral began on Christmas Day, 1842, so when we visited it was almost its birthday. The cathedral was made of marble taken from seventy-two demolished churches. It took twenty years to build and was complete by May 1862.The bodies of two saints killed by the Ottoman Turks are buried inside: Saint Philothei and Patriarch Gregory V. The cathedral is beautiful inside and is well worth visiting.

There is a beautiful little church next to the cathedral. It is the Church of St. Eleftherios but is also known as Little Mitropoli. We had a quick look inside here.

In the square in front of the cathedral there is a statue of Saint Constantine XI and a statue of Archbishop Damaskinos, who was Archbishop of Athens during World War II.

Athens Cathedral, Metropolis.

Athens Cathedral, Metropolis.

The Church of St. Eleftherios, Little Mitropoli.

The Church of St. Eleftherios, Little Mitropoli.

Saint Constantine XI.

Saint Constantine XI.

We then walked to Syntagma Square which had a large Christmas tree in its midst.

Syntagma Square.

Syntagma Square.

Posted by irenevt 05:39 Archived in Greece

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