The Acropolis and the Parthenon
You can’t come to Athens and not visit the sacred rock. The world’s most famous acropolis (which means “edge of the city”) stands 230 feet high, with a 484,000-square-foot flat plateau; atop it is the Parthenon, designed by Pericles in the fifth century B.C. A lot has happened to the Parthenon in the past 2,500 years: the occupying Turks used it to store gunpowder and it exploded, Lord Elgin hacked off 500 feet of its frieze and shipped it to England, and acid rain and air pollution took their toll. But the temple has nevertheless survived, an impressive architectural specimen juxtaposed against the vast megalopolis at its feet. Don’t miss the flag post behind the Parthenon, the site of an excellent view but also a tragic history; when the Evzone guarding the flag was told to remove it to make way for the swastika during the German occupation, he did so, then wrapped himself in it and leapt from the rock to his death.