This morning we boarded an open top double decker bus to tour the whole of the city.
It is a hop on, hop off service which enables one to see the sights at one’s leisure. Starting from the Parliament Buildings our tour took us past the Panatheniac Stadium.
This is on the site of an ancient stadium and for centuries hosted games for male athletes in track events. In the 4th century BC the building of the stadium was carried out. The completed stadium with an entrance at one end and space for spectators on the other three sides was used for the first time in 330 – 329 BC. This was known as the Great Panathenaia. Further work was conducted in Roman times during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. With the prevailing of Christianity and the prohibition of pagan celebrations the stadium fell into disrepair. There were many attempts at reviving the idea of an Olympic Games events but it was not until Baron Pierre de Coubertin that eventually led to the first modern Olympics in 1896 within the stadium. In the Athens 2004 Olympics the stadium was used for archery contests and as the finishing line of the marathon race. The stadium is named such after the length of track, one stade, an ancient measure of approximately 185 metres.
Our tour continued past such landmarks as the National Library, National Archaeological Museum and the bazaars at the foot of the Acropolis before passing the Temple of Zeus and the Acropolis Interchange where dozens of coaches were awaiting the return of tourists from the hill. This was a great overview of the city and now gives us chance to investigate specific sights in more detail.
Upon leaving the bus we walked through the National Gardens, an oasis of peace in the middle of the city and came across several families of terrapins chilling in the heat of the day.
We had a light lunch close to the remains of a Roman bath which extended from yesterday’s remains at the underground station.