Affichage des articles du janvier, 2015

On the sides of the Greek roads

The Greek roads are notorious for the number of accidents which happen every year. That's why you will see a lot of these mini-chapels, which commemorate the place where someone has died or the place where someone nearly died.

There is usually an image of the dead inside and oil burning, or an image of a saint. The family takes as much care of it as the tomb.


The monumental size of the Agia Sofia in Istanbul is a kind of testament of the greatness of the Byzantine Empire, but as time went by and the empire fell down the spiral of decline, the size of its building followed the same trend and it can be seen in Athens itself.
The Church of Panagia Karnikarea, at the end of the Ermou street, was built in the 11th century and strikes a radical contrast between its quaint and modest size with the ugliness of the huge modern buildings around it.

Even smaller, near the Metropolis Church, 5 minutes away from there, you will find the Church of Agios Eleftherios (also called "Little Metropolis"), a Byzantine chapel from the 13th century, which is worth watching for the sculptures of animal with which its walls are adorned.


Monastiraki is an emblematic square of the old city of Athens, in the district of Plaka. When I was in Athens in 2011 it was slightly derelict and dodgy, covered with graffitis, but with its metro station, its view to the Acropolis and the flea market nearby it still had a charm and an atmosphere like no other place and it will be an unavoidable step on your visit. 

The Ottoman-looking building on the left was the Tzistarakis Mosque built in 1759. A column of the Temple of Olympian Zeus was used to build it. It is a now a Museum of Greek Folk Art.


Just like the library that bears his name, or the Roman Agora which stands near the Acropolis, we owe the Temple of Olympian Zeus, a colossal ruin on the edge of the limits of ancient Athens, to the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Completed in the 2nd century AD, it was the biggest temple of Greece, greater even than the Parthenon.

It fell into disuse and was ruined by invasions in the later centuries, before to serve as a quarry for other constructions elsewhere. In the 18th century, the columns were even reduced to plaster to be used for the construction of a mosque in Monastiraki.
There are only 15 columns left standing. And just nearby is the Arch of Hadrian, another landmark due to the famous Emperor, and which marked the limit between the old city and the new city.
On one side of the Arch is written : This is Athens, the city of Theseusand on the other : This is the City of Hadrian, and not of Theseus.


The academy of Athens is a neo-classical building built in the 1870s on Panepistimiou avenue. 

It is adorned on each side with statues of Athena and Apollo, and in front of the entrance are also sculptures of Socrates and Plato.