Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Dragiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum OR Termez, Afghanistan) - 328 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene / Alexandria on the Indus (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Monday, August 28, 2017

There is more to Athens than the Acropolis and the Parthenon

In a recent article, Ancient History wrote about five ancient sites that are usually overlooked by the tourists visiting Athens but are very much worthwhile the short detour.

Most visitors rush to the Acropolis and hopefully include a tour of the New Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum as well but there are these little nearby gems that may be as exciting since you can have them almost all to yourself.

On top of the list, I would put the excavations underneath the New Acropolis Museum which are in plain view when you enter the museum. These remains are partly covered by glass plates and show the remains of a Township of Athens as it evolved in time. You can have a close look at some intricate mosaic floors or a round room with a circular pool or the entrance to a building from the 7th century BC. This underground is accessible from inside the museum.

Another interesting feature is the Township of Koile on the west side of Hill of Philopappou within walking distance from the foot of the Acropolis. Ancient roads with the grooves left by thousands of cartwheels are always an exciting feature and this road also has a water channel running alongside. Here, you can walk among the ruins of houses and even climb a staircase. Koile was protected by the Wall of Themistocles that ran all the way to the Piraeus but when Philip II of Macedonia arrived here new defenses were built to replace the walls taken down by the Spartans. This new wall put Koile outside the fortification and the town was soon abandoned. It became a burial site the remains  of which are still visible.

Particularly noteworthy is the nearby Tomb of Cimon, the athlete who repeatedly won the chariot races at the Olympic Games in 536, 532 and 528 BC. This Cimon was also the father of Miltiades, the general who led the victory over the Persians at Marathon in 490 BC. This tomb occupied a prominent position in its days and it takes some imagination to picture the spot where his winning horses were buried just opposite his own tomb.

Not too far away, there is a spot with three cave-like openings in the rock wall that have been sealed off with iron bars and are known as the Prison of Socrates. Whether or not this is true remains a subject of discussion as other, probably later sources say that the philosopher was executed by poisoning in 399 BC.

My own favourite is the Pnyx Hill where the Athenians gathered to listen to great orators like Themistocles, Pericles and Demosthenes and where their democratic votes were taken. The speaker’s platform is about the only original structure still standing but overlooking the now disappeared tiers where the audience took place is quite overwhelming. Set against the Acropolis in the background it makes truly a magnificent place to linger

Of course, there is far more to see and to enjoy around the corner of the Acropolis. To name a few, there is the Ancient Agora with the well-preserved Temple of Hephaistos or Theseion and a little further the great remains of the Roman Agora with the newly restored Tower of the Winds and adjacent Library of Hadrian. On the other side of the Acropolis and visible from its top, are the imposing remains of the Temple of Zeus not far from the Gate constructed by Emperor Hadrian carrying on one side the inscription that this was where the city of Athens began and on the other side where it ended. In between the Acropolis and the Gate of Hadrian, one automatically passes by the Tower of Lysicratos.

Practical information and details as to the road to follow to the five highlighted locations can be found in abovementioned article by Ancient History

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