The Parthenon. The top of the world, or so it felt. The closest place to the mythological Greek gods in all of Athens. I always knew visiting this historical site would be cool, but I could not have anticipated the pure awe I felt while walking up to the ancient columns and looking down at the city below.

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I stand at the base of the Parthenon. Photo by Olivia Arnold
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The view of the Parthenon from the museum below. Photo by Paxtyn Merten

The temple itself was massive. I cannot imagine how people who lived thousands of years ago could have created something so large and so lasting. As I walked along it, I understood the fear and respect that the Athenians had for the gods, and particularly for their patron goddess Athena. It was additionally exciting to understand that all of the honor and praise the Athenians had while building the Parthenon was aimed toward a woman, a goddess, considering so many people’s praise today is aimed at a god portrayed as a man. It was refreshing to see a woman figure was held to such high esteem among the people of her city.

This concept was repeated in the friezes, located in the top floor of the acropolis museum at the base of the hill where the Parthenon is located. The friezes, or marble story depictions which were located at the top of the temple, were unreal. A part of the small model of the frieze’s original condition depicted the battle between Poseidon and Athena to become the patron god of the city, with their fellow gods and goddesses carved in on either side. In these, all of the gods and goddesses look powerful and Athena especially looks fierce yet calm, strong yet wise. The marble statues showed the way the ancient Greeks perceived their protectors, truly providing a glimpse into their long-gone lives.

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Depiction of Poseidon and Athena fighting to become patron god of the city on a small model of the Parthenon’s frieze. Photo by Paxtyn Merten

The single most impressive thing about the Acropolis, the high point of the city where the Parthenon sits beside several other ancient buildings, is the view. The Greeks truly found the place of the gods, as you can see everything from the spot where the ancient buildings sit. The view was among the best I have seen in my life: I felt like I was able to see all of Greece from my one spot above the city.

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The view from the top of the Acropolis. Photo by Paxtyn Merten

Standing at the base of the Parthenon made me feel small yet powerful, curious yet understanding. I could spend hours up there, looking down at the city and admiring the views. More than anything, I hope to return to that spot of peace, awe and beauty.

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