The Acropolis is probably the most famous and most visited monument in the world from the antiquity. It is the symbol of Athens and its most famous landmark. Every year millions of visitors from all over the world come to admire this symbol of the Ancient Greek civilisation. On the rock of the Acropolis there are several monuments, built most of them during the golden age of Pericles (5th century B.C.)
The word "Acro-polis" means city by the edge. Towering over the capital, it is a very impressive sight, and walking around on its grounds, gives the visitor a feeling of awe and a true sense of the greatness of the ancient Greeks. The founder of Athens and Greek civilization was king Cecrops, according to mythology. He was born out of the earth and was half man half snake. He thought that a contest should be held so as to decide which god would protect the city.
There were two candidates: goddess Athena and god Poseidon. In order to prove their worth, they each presented the city with a gift. Poseidon struck his trident into the rock of the Acropolis, and out sprang a well. The people ran to the well to drink its water, but had to spit it out since the water was salty, Poseidon being a sea god. Then Athena touched the ground, and an olive tree grew out. This proved to be a much more useful present, so Cecrops decided that Athena would be the patron of the city. On the exact spot where the olive tree grew out the Athenians built a small temple, “Erechtheion”, which still stands there. The sacred rock was dedicated to the goddess Athena but its slopes were taken over by various other cults. A number of caves on the precipitous northern slope were used as shrines and were approached by a peripatos, or path, one kilometre long, which surrounded the rocky crag all the way to the southern slope with its many shrines and other important monuments. These days the area is heavily protected, undergoing restoration, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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