This is a quick note that I wrote from the steps of the Acropolis in Athens after seeing the site. These are my on-the-spot reactions.
Many things can be said about this place and I will surely check the details later, but when you stand amongst these ruins you cannot help but be overwhelmed by the majesty and grandeur of this place and what it must have once been. Roman was good, but these ruins go far beyond. Roman was about imperial power, these ruins are about aesthetics. Who were the people who built this? Buildings such as these do not just appear. They are beautiful! They are stunning! Such beauty can only rise from the midst of a mature culture that includes all areas of human pursuits and not just from financial and military might. Of course, a lot is known about the ancient Greek world, but to actually see it, to feel it within your bones, to be here, is a very different thing than just reading about this place and seeing the photographs. That is the power of actually coming here. In contrast, when I walk in the streets of Athens I feel a huge disconnect between what is here now and what used to be here in these ruins. Are these the descendants of those who built these massive and beautiful structures? It seems impossible.
Greece compared to the rest of Europe is a poor country. She stands at the back of the line when it comes to the rest of Europe, and yet these ruins are here! What occurred here, thousands of years ago, formed the very foundations of the West, including Christianity and Islam. We are all, therefore, indebted to the people who built this place and who thought the thoughts that made this possible.
When I come here I lament that throughout the world, the vast majority of students dedicate themselves to technology and science, which is not bad per se, but having been to so many ancient sites like this, in Rome, Athens and throughout India, my head bows to those who take the time to learn the classics, Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, hieroglyphics and Chinese and try to understand these great and ancient cultures of past humanity. Someone has to remember and keep the ideas that created these cultures alive. In a place such as this, you feel your humanity. I feel proud and humbled to be here.
From the pool floor of my hotel I have a fantastic view of the Acropolis about 15 kms away. The building is lighted at night so my view is even better then, but what an amazing sight at anytime, knowing the history and beauty of this monument. So much of the worlds architecture is modeled after the Pathenon and now I see the original one in the distance before me. Athens is not a city that I enjoy, it is hot, congested and dirty, but to be here in heart of the Mediterranean world is an experience of a lifetime. I do not think there is any necessity to describe the details of the Acropolis. It has been written about in thousands of books and web pages, suffice to say, I see it before me and it is humbling and awe inspiring. Travel to Athens if you can.