With this tour, you will explore several sites in Ancient Athens. At each stop, you’ll learn more about Greek culture.
Touring Stations of the Golden Age of Ancient Athens:
Station A: Architecture and Sculptures (The Parthenon and the Acropolis Museum)
Temples are good examples of the Greek’s talent for architecture. The Greeks built their temples as beautiful dwelling places for the gods and goddesses rather than as places to worship. Religious ceremonies were conducted outside. The Temples show the importance of balance and order in the Greek’s idea of beauty.
The statue of Athena in the Parthenon was a wonderful example of another important Greek art : Sculpture. Sculptors in Athens often set up a workshop near the site where the finished statue would go. Sculptor apprentices first made a life-size clay model supported by wooden or metal frames. The general outline of the statue was then roughed out in Marble. A master sculptor added details and finishing touches. Greek Statues were colorful. Metalworkers attached any bronze pieces that went with the statue, like spears and shields. Painters applied wax and bright colors to the statue’s hair, lips, clothes and headdress. Creating lifelike statues was one of the great achievements of Greek sculptors.
Station B: Drama (Theater of Dionysos)
In addition to architecture and sculpture, the ancient Greeks excelled in drama, the art of the theater.
The Athenians had excellent entertainment during the golden age. They didn’t have computers, televisions or iPods like we do today but they had theater and actors. The actors wore masks and performed in a Greek theater which was a semicircle, sort of like half a football stadium. In the theater the people sat in different sections based on their social class. In the front there were high government officials and judges and commoners sat from the middle to back of the theater. There were 3 different kinds of plays: comedies, tragedies, and satyr plays. Tragedies often had strong themes where the main character often went through a main plot such as defying the gods or battling for power. Comedies often had a lighter atmosphere where political jokes, comments, and clowning around were often. Satyr plays often had the theme of teasing the tragic theme. In the play the actors dressed as satyrs a mythical creature.
Station C: Law (Pnyx)
The Greeks had a well-established legal system. In the days before the Greeks invented their alphabet, they handed down their laws by oral tradition. This meant that officials and their assistants had to memorize entire legal codes. However, by 600BC writing had spread throughout the Greek world, and laws were written down for easy reference.
The main lawmaking body of the Athenian democracy was the Citizens Assembly, which was open to all adult male citizens. A smaller executive body, the council of 500, was responsible for proposing laws and for voting on important political issues. In Ancient Athens there were no lawyers. Each citizen argued his own case. Large juries- numbering anywhere from 201 to 2,501 members- heard the cases. The jury used small tokens to cast their innocent or guilty verdicts. Since there were no judges in the Athenian courtroom, the jury was responsible for interpreting the law and for deciding on a verdict. At this site all the great political struggles of Athens of the “Golden Age” were fought out. Pericles, Aristides and Alcibiades spoke here, within sight of the Parthenon, temple of Athena. Here Demosthenes delivered his vilifications of Philip of Macedon, the famous Philippics.
Station D: Philosophy, Commerce, Trades and Sports (Ancient Agora)
Like other Greeks, Athenians loved to talk and argue. In the sheltered spaces on the side of the Agora, men gathered to discuss the world around them. They talked about nature, trading ideas about what the natural world was made of and how it worked. They also talked about things they couldn’t see, such as the meaning of life, justice, truth, and beauty. They called this kind of thinking philosophy, which means “the love of wisdom).
The Agora, or marketplace, was the center of Athenian life during much of its Golden Age. Reconstructed after the end of the Persian Wars in 479 B.C.E., the Agora contained temples, government buildings, and several columned buildings called stoas. On the walls of the most beautiful stoas, artists depicted various historical events, such as the Battle of Marathon, and religious scenes.
On any given day the entire Agora was bustling with noisy activity. In the large, open center, merchants sold their wares – haggling with customers over the prices for everything from food, clothes, and animals to pottery, chariots, and furniture. Public officials regularly patrolled the farm stalls and craft displays to check the quality of the goods. Any merchant found to be selling inferior merchandise was fined. Beautiful public buildings and temples lined two sides of the Agora. Citizens used public buildings to debate and vote on important political issues.
The Agora also served as a place for recreation. In the afternoons, men often visited the outdoor sports complex, or gymnasium, to exercise. The gymnasium consisted of a running track, a wrestling court, fields for throwing javelin, or light spear, and discus, or flat circular plate, over long distances. There were also rooms for changing and oiling down the body. In the evenings men remained in the Agora to socialize. One popular gathering place for men was the barber shop. Greek men went there for the latest hair styles, and to pick up the latest news and gossip circulating through the busy city.
STATION E: Pottery (National Archeological Museum pottery section)
Because of its beauty and utility, Greek pottery was valued throughout the Mediterranean in ancient times. Greek artists created ceramic vessels-such as storage jars, drinking cups, mixing bowls, and plates. The history of pottery in ancient Greece can be divided into several distinct periods. One of the earliest periods, the Geometric, occurred between 00-700BC. Pottery created during this period was painted and carved with simple, repeating shapes. Potters created vases with designs such as circles, triangles, right angles and squares.
Around 700BC, Greek potters abandoned the stylized geometric shapes. They began creating vases with realistic black figures painted upon the red clay of the pottery. They showed figures from mythical scenes, as well as scenes from daily life such as farming.
By about 500BC, Athenian artists were using new production methods to create red figures on black backgrounds, a style that became known as the Red-Figure style of pottery. The human and animal figures were left in the original red color of the clay, while the background of the vessel was painted black and fired. Using this method, the artist was able to create more realistic figures, showing a variety of poses human, muscles and facial features, and precise details of clothing.
This marks the end of your The Glory of Athens Walking Seminar.
>Entrance fees, to the Acropolis and Ancient Agora, are 28 Euro total pp.
>Entrance fee to the Acropolis Museum is 5 Euro pp.
Free admission for:
- Persons under 18 (with current identification to prove age) except Acropolis Museum which is under 12 age.
- University students from Greece and the E.U
Free admission for all on the following dates:
- 6 March
- 5 June
- 18 April
- 18 May (International Museums Day)
- The last weekend of September annually (European Heritage Days)
SUMMER PERIOD: 1 April – 31 October
WINTER PERIOD: 1 November – 31 March
Opening hours for the archeological sites of Athens including Acropolis:
Winter period:8:30am – 15:00
Summer period:8:00am – 19:30
Opening hours for Acropolis Museum:
Monday to Thursday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Last admission: 4:30 p.m.)
Friday: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. (Last admission: 9:30 p.m.)
Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. (Last admission: 7:30 p.m.)
Monday: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Last admission: 3:30 p.m.)
Tuesday to Sunday: 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. (Last admission: 7:30 p.m.)
Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. (Last admission: 9:30 p.m.)
All sites and museums are closed or have reduced opening hours, on the following holidays:
• 1 January: closed
• 6 January: closed
• Shrove Monday: 08.30-15.00
• 25 March: closed
• Good Friday: until 12:00 closed
• Holy Saturday: 08.30-15.00
• Easter Sunday : closed
• Easter Monday: 08.30-15.00
• 1 May: closed
• Holy Spirit Day: 08.30-15.00
• 15 August: 08.30-15.00
• 28 October: 08.30-15.00
• 25 December: closed
• 26 December: closed