The above-featured image is an oil on canvas , painted by Nikos Hadjikyriakos – Ghika’s “Pines and Blue Chair in the Afternoon”.
While most other people with us included, do see Athens as surrounded by antiquity which of course the city has in abundance, there is another side, its developing art scene, which I touched briefly on in “Who decides what ART is?”,
When wandering around this ancient city of Athens which by the way has been established for around 6000 years, we realised that the place has the feel of an open-air museum, with archaeological sites scattered around the inner city and the surrounding areas.
The Roman Agora ruins. What a hustle and bustling place. As most communication would have been verbal, it would’ve been a significant place to congregate and share information as well as produce. A few nights ago it came alive with a concert that we listened to for a while, to see more of it go HERE
This is the fascinating Tower of the Winds. What’s the Tower of Winds I hear you say? In basic terms, it is believed to be the world’s first weather vane, though able to do much more intricate work and a long history in its development. To read more, about what we thought was one the more fascinating archaeological sites in Athens: Wikipedia
The Temple of Olympian Zeus, also known as the Olympieion or Columns of the Olympian Zeus.
The Hadrian Arch, it’s quite hard to comprehend that this construction began in the 6th century BC during the rule of the Athenian tyrant Peisistratus, though it was not completed until the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD, 650 years after the project had begun. When we are faced with structures such as this, we always stare in wonderment on how well it was built without the use of engine power.
After viewing the archaeological sites, it really does beg the question are we really the superior century and generations of advancement?
When it comes to buildings, sometimes the large overpowers the small, the day we walked around the square where the below churches are situated on, it was the smaller church that caught our attention as there was a lack of people entering. Well, that was a sign to head on over and have a look.
The Church of Panagia Gorgoepikoos was not as ornate as the Cathedral though what it had was an area where we could buy and light a candle to remember loved ones.
Next stop was the larger of the two, and one which made us go “WOW”. A fellow blogger just this moment in a comment from Part 1 – Wandering the streets in Athens, reminded me to include it, so here it is April who writes a detailed blog about medieval life at aprilmunday.wordpress.com.
Now back to the church in question, which is far from being medieval though still very attractive. It is the most spectacular and well-preserved church we have visited for a while, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, one of the largest modern Orthodox churches in Greece.
We did eventually turn our sights to Athens more creativity side when I/we visited a few smaller spaces with artefacts and newer forms of art that are closeted away inside museums and churches. One Museum that caught my attention which I visited on one of my solo days was the Benaki Museum. This grand old building was once occupied by a well-known family who chose to turn it into a museum in the 1930s with emphasis on the Greek culture over the span of the country’s history. Now everyone has the privilege of admiring the beautiful neoclassical-style building as well as the exhibitions that adorn its inside spaces. The below photograph is a view from inside looking towards the front entrance, to the right and left are gift shops, further inside on the lower levels are the more ancient artefacts, with the modern 20thCentury artists on the top level where a cafe is situated with a view over the National Park of Athens.
Though Athens is deeply rooted in antiquity, it does have its share of modern art in various museums. The Benaki is no exception and the exhibition on 3 people [Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, John Craxton, Patrick Leigh Fermor] who had an impact in Greece as well as the UK, two were artists and the other a writer. It was a fascinating presentation, with not just on what they achieved as artists/writer there was the long relationship the three had together and their equal passion of Greece.
What I loved apart from the paintings was the personalised messages from the artists alongside the art. As above: “For the houses, as though in protest against the masterless swirl of rock, are cubic, solid, and severe. The great ones are built of regular blocks of grey stone hewn from the mountain, and the dark windows are barred like those of dungeons. The others are a blinding white, and they might have been sliced and squared out of goat’s cheese. The houses and the rocks alike thrust into the air an infinity of sharp and light-reflecting facets” Patrick Leigh Fermor – artist – The background of Niko Ghika
Another aspect of the Museum worth mentioning is their use of video, “Liquid Antiquity: Conversations”, conceived and designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. This was situated on the lower floor, with videos set up with chairs to sit and listen to the various artists.
Athens has so many museums and art galleries it was probably not possible to see all of them in a week or so that we had there. The one I did want to visit was the National Modern Art Gallery, I walked there one morning to find it closed, no up to date information on their website. Not impressed!!
One Museum that we visited together and worth mentioning is the Acropolis Museum.
As we weren’t allowed to use our cameras to capture the artefacts, I was intrigued by this young woman who was seemed engrossed in capturing her visit with sketching. Which I thought was a fantastic idea.
This form of remembering an experience was discussed by Clare, in a post she wrote about her experience while visiting the Tate Museum in London. Check out Clare the artist and blogger over at https://theeaselweasel.wordpress.com/