Friday, December 2, 2016

193. The Athens sprawl ...

Always the best spot to view a city is from the highest point - and in the case of Athens, it is Mount Lycabettus. Situated right in the centre of the city, Lycabettus is a rocky limestone outcrop covered by pine trees at its base as it leaves suburbia and wild prickly pear cactus covering the rugged slopes as they rise up to 300 meters.

 
 Lycabettus rising out of the city as seen from near the Acropolis

Lycabettus appears in various Greek legends. Popular stories suggest it was once the refuge of wolves, ( lycos in Greek ), which is possibly the origin of its name ( meaning " the hill that is walked by wolves" ). Mythologically, Lycabettus is credited to the goddess Athena, who created it when she dropped a limestone mountain she had been carrying from the Pallene Peninsula for the construction of the Acropolis.



... and always visible through the chaos of the city ...


 From home, the bus takes me to Kolanaki – the very up-beat shopping, residential and diplomatic area of Athens - and after coffee and lunch on the sidewalk, the 300m assent begins ...



... first it's a climb up 12 million steps ...



... then a funicular ride in a tunnel up the mount ...
... followed by another climb up mores steps ...

... and finally to the wind-swept summit ...


Mythology aside, the hill is today a major attraction for us hungry tourists, and I’m sure the goddess Athena would be delighted with the ohhhs and ahhhs coming out of our mouths as we clamber up the final steps to the windy peak to ogle at the sprawling city below.
 
Looking North to the snow-capped Parnitha Mountains



... and Northeast to Mount Pentelicus

 
... and Mount Aigaleo to the West ...


... BRRR THAT WIND IS COLD ...

 
 
19th Century Saint George's chapel on the top




Too cold and windy today for a casual aperitif in the sunshine ...




Looking over the Acropolis to the Port of Pireas and out to the Saronic Gulf ...





Then the long trek down begins - on foot this time ...




... with several stops along the way to take in the spectacular views ...




Acropolis rising out of the city ...




... a little help along the way ...





... and one final vista before I merge into the valleys of  suburban Athens ...
 


Next post we may pay a visit the famous Acropolis ...