Thursday, April 7, 2016

Ancient Agora of Athens

Our tickets to the Acropolis was inclusive of entrance to the Ancient Agora of Athens. The Agora during its ancient days was a space might have been used as a market, or for an election, a dramatic performance, a religious procession, military drill, or athletic competition. Here administrative, political, judicial, commercial, social, cultural, and religious activities all found a place together in the heart of Athenians.

Exploring Monastiraki

One good thing about doing your own travel itinerary is that there is no pressure to rush off to places and keeping to the tight schedule with the tour group. No doubt doing a DIY travel would require a lot of walking on foot. The feet do come to protest after a couple hours of walking. And when they do, we know that it's time for some light refreshments. 

So after the quick stroll at the library, we stopped at a street seller for some Greek sesame bread rings or koulouri. 

We walked a bit further and ended up at Monastiraki Square - an open market square with bustling shops, street vendors and open markets.

 Monastiraki area spreads out at the foot of the Acropolis to the North of the Hephaestus Temple in  the Ancient Agora  and south of Ermou street; it’s a  charming alloy of colors, smells, tastes and senses.

Nuts about coconuts on the Monastiraki Square
Shops at Monastiraki Square selling anything from kitsch and souvenirs to chandeliers and beautifully crafted armoiries.

In the old days the flea market was called Yousourum from the name of a rug and bones of the man who first made business in the Monastiraki area.

Collectors items porcelains
More collectors stuffs
Old cameras for the photography enthusiasts

Tzistarakis Mosque

At the south corner of the Monastiraki Square, bordering the Library of Hadrian stands a domed building with a triple-arched loggia. It was a mosque built in the eighteenth century during the Ottoman occupation by the local governor Tzistarakis. 

Quranic verses on the walls of what used to be a mosque
Entrance to the mosque
 Today, however the mosque is home to a ceramics museum, an annex of the Museum of Greek Folk Art. Unfortunately, the museum was closed at the time of our visit.

Monastiraki was the site of one of the largest monasteries in Athens.
The surviving church, also known as the Pantanassa Church.

But most of this 'Great Monastery' was demolished during archaeological excavations in the nineteenth century. Little was left of the complex. Only the church remains intact.

What's your pick? Keep Calam & Drink Ouzo or I Love Greece?

A Library Visit

Do libraries fascinate you? They do us -  just like museums and when we get the chance we'd pop into one at places we are visiting.

We walked down hill towards the Roman Agora in Athens after we said goodbye to the Acropolis. To the north of the Roman Agora is the Hadrian's Library. Yes...a bit in ruins but the achitecture that comes with it was overwhelming. 

The library was built on the site of Late Hellenistic and Early Roman housing.

The Library of Hadrian in Athens was constructed circa 132-134 CE as part of Roman Emperor Hadrian’s grand re-building plan for the city.

Hadrian (76-138 CE) was the fourteenth Emperor of Rome. Known for his building projects which was perhaps his most enduring legacy. Hadrian established cities throughout the Balkan Peninsula, Egypt, Asia Minor, and Greece.

Picture from Google
Library complex impressive entrance, located on the west side of the building, had a Corinthian columned porch also known as propylon
Columned façade with Corinthian columns in green Karystos marble

The main part of the building was opposite the entrance on the eastern side.
The library was the largest in Athens. It had columned façade and high surrounding walls, built to impress.  The building was used to store important literary works and legal and administrative documents as well as a place to hear lectures and host various philosophical schools.

A Corinthian capital from the north facade of the Library of Hardrian
Columns in the interior of Hadrian's Library
Mosaic pavements

Library of Hadrian East Wall - restoration work on going. 

During the Byzantine era a series of churches were built on the site.

Architectural elements still visible in the Library of Hadrian central courtyard area.

As we left the complex, we imagined what an important centre of learning and philosophy it would have been during its heyday with books, scrolls, documents and papyri housed in the Library.

April Already!

Hi folks.

It's already April. What happened to the 1st quarter of the year? It's like playing football, isn't it? You race up and down the field and before you know it time is up and game's over. Some analogy this is eh? ;)

Stories of my Greek soujorn has not much progressed. Keep promising myself that I'll get it done one of these days. Yes...fingers crossed on that "one of these days" promise. Surprisingly enough there are still folks out there who follow my stories. Once in a while I'd receive emails asking me to continue writing. Hi hi...kinda cool, isn't it? So for you out there who still follow me on Sembang, okay....I will somehow try and complete my Greek travel stories yah!

So drop by. Let's see where we are heading to next ;)

Quoting Homer in The Odyssey 
“There is no greater fame for a man than that which he wins with his footwork or the skill of his hands.”