Monday, October 28, 2013

GUEST POST: MY GREEK ODYSSEY PART I

Contributor:  Anthony Parcon - a Certified Public Accountant currently based in Doha, Qatar.


Inspired and influenced by repetitively watching the adventures of Dr. Henry Jones of "Indiana Jones" movie franchise immortalized by Harrison Ford on the silver screen and reading Jules Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days", I have come up with a fanciful daydream vision of visiting my own list of Seven Existing Wonders of the Ancient World.  The Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, which is considered the World's Greatest Open Air Museum unarguably tops on my bucket list.  But considering the current political unrest that is taking place in this historical country, I will be a foolhardy who just want to appear on CNN's International Desk with Hala Gorani if I insist in going there.

Greece (officially called the Hellenic Republic) is another giant in history department with a plethora of impressive archeological sites scattered around the mainland and its naturally panoramic islands.  Lying at the strategic position of three continents, Europe, Africa and Asia, it played a very colorful role in human civilization and history - The home of the Olympic Games, The First Major Democracy, The Cradle of Western Civilization, and the birthplace of Western Philosophy, theater and drama, literature, the source of political, scientific, mathematical and medical school of thoughts.  This country is definitely tough to ignore when it comes to hedonistic and historical travel standards.


Months before my appointment at the Greek Embassy in Doha, I was enthusiastic that I kept on researching on some famous attractions this majestic country could offer.  I did a reading on my high school lessons on the Greek civilization, The Parthenon, on some UNESCO World Heritage Sites found in Greece, its fascinating literature and even familiarizing with some basic Greek words which was very much useful in asking for directions and starting a conversation with the locals or even some tourists.  Very ofter, I asked, "Where's the toilet?" in Greek.

Summer may be the king in Greek travel especially in the picturesque Santorini, Korfu, Mykonos or Crete but autumn is absolutely the queen.  It is very much ideal to discover multitude of wonders on foot on a cooler weather and the best time to sip a warm Greek coffee or chilled bottle or wine or ouzo in a nearby taverna with friends.

METEORA:  Monasteries in the Sky



When I first saw these majestic monasteries perched on high rocky cliffs, I was awed and amazed by this imposing landscape.  According to tradition, some destitute hermits established a laborious task of establishing the earliest monastery in the area to escape invasion by Franks, Serbs, Catalans, Albanians and Turks threatening to conquer the territory of Thessaly.  The only means of going up was to climb a long ladder and a rope which was drawn up when they felt threatened.  According to legends, the founder of the first monastery, The Great Meteoron - Athenasios Koinovitis did not scale the rock, but was carried there by an eagle.

the rope used my monks- currently used to transport food and other heavy items

Currently, there are six existing monasteries which now can be accessed by staircases cut into the rock formations.  On the day of my visit, I was able to enter three monasteries, the Holy Monastery of The Metamorphosis/The Great Meteoron, The Holy Monastery of Varlaam, and the Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas.



THE ACROPOLIS AREA


One cannot claim that he has been to Athens without seeing the most famous landmark of Greece, the Parthenon, Erechtheum and other significant architectural and historical structures located on the rocky hill of the Acropolis, an ancient fortress of the capital.  Acropolis comes from the Greek words: akro (extreme/high) and polis (city).  To visit this area is like walking on the ancient streets during the times of Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Sophocles and other renowned philosophers, statesmen and historians.  It is in these very streets where the idea of democracy and most scientific, philosophical, mathematical, medical and theatrical concepts were discovered and born.



THE PARTHENON

Standing atop on the Acropolis for nearly 2, 500 years is The Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the city's patron deity, Athena in thanking her for saving their beloved city during the Persian Wars.  Although, it is not the most intact surviving building of its kind in Greece, (The Temple of Hephaestus is) it is nevertheless the most endearing and finest structure of Dorian architecture ever built.  Visiting the Acropolis Archeological Museum, where the surviving frieze and pediment decorations and sculptures with elaborate details are kept in the nearby area will undeniably prove this.  For a long time, it has functioned as a Greek temple.  It was also converted into Christian church, an Islam mosque, a fortress and a treasury.


They say that time is unkind to this structure but it was actually the invaders particularly the Venetians that were cruel to The Parthenon.  The Athenians used this as their refuge for the women and children thinking that the intruders will respect their beloved temple but they were wrong.  The Venetians exploded some magazine and The Parthenon was partly destroyed.  For some time, it was left unused.


I have learned from the lady tour guide for some Chinese tourists that some of the marble sculptures are now in British Museum after the British Ambassador, The Earl of Elgin in 1801 secured a permit from the Sultan of Ottoman Empire to collect the sculptures he could find.  I also asked her if there are current talks between the British and Greek government to return these priceless treasures to Athens but after the death of Greek actress Melina Mercouri, who was then the Greek Minister of Culture, no strong attempts for negotiations were established.




8 comments :

  1. Amazing! Feel so jealous...

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  2. This is worth reading! Thanks for the share!

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  3. Good job! THANK U FOR SHARING YOUR ADVENTURE - Jeth Ace

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  4. Good job! THANK U FOR SHARING YOUR ADVENTURE - Jeth Ace

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well done, Anthony!

    ReplyDelete

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