Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘temple’

When we left Athens, we started the drive along the coast to the ancient city of Corinth. Before we got there, we stopped at a place to eat lunch that was right beside ofIMG_0610 the modern day Corinth Canal. Construction on the canal started in 1881 and was completed in 1893. It is four miles long and about 23 feet wide. Cut through solid stone and built at sea level, there are no locks involved. But because of the canal being so narrow, it serves very little purpose economically today and is mostly used by tourists with small boats. Even so, it is still impressive to see.

If you were to study the geography of Greece, it is easy to see why the ancient city of Corinth was such a strategic place for military and commercial reasons. Located on a narrow isthmus connecting northern and southern Greece, Corinth was the first century hub of Greek civilization. The narrow isthmus virtually provided southern Greece from any land invasion. A very small military regiment would be able to defend the land with little difficulty. And commercially, anyone traveling north, south, east or west would pass through Corinth with money to spend.

IMG_0602At the time of the Apostle Paul, first century AD, Corinth stretched the four mile distance across the isthmus. It would have been thronging with merchants, IMG_0605sailors, travelers and military. The central focus of Corinth, the Agora, was located near the Corinthian Acropolis which was close to 2000 ft. above sea level. This was the main thoroughfare to go from the Mediterranean Sea to the Aegean Sea, and Corinth took full advantage of that. The merchants shouting to the passing crowds to buy their goods, eating places with delightful smells enticing people to spend their coins, places to rest and spend the night, and many temples for the gods making their fortunes from the very old profession of prostitution. It is believed that the temple of Aphrodite had over 1000 temple prostitutes.

Because of an earthquake in 1858 which destroyed the city of Corinth, people rebuilt the present day city of Corinth about three miles away on the coast. This allowed unhindered excavation of ancient Corinth that has been going on since that time. One of the most imposing structures found was the temple of Apollo. Seven of the 35 original IMG_0607columns remain standing. And in the middle of all of this hustle and bustle, the Apostle Paul arrives to preach Christianity to the Corinthians. There was a large Jewish population in Corinth that did not like Paul’s message. They accused him before Gallio of breaking the law. The bema, that Paul would have stood on for his trial, has been found in the center of about 30 shops and businesses. Surrounded by unbelieving gentiles and Jewish people, Paul was prepared to defend himself and his message, but Gallio spoke before Paul could utter a word. He told the people that Paul had broken no laws and that they needed to deal with it themselves. So basically the case against Paul was thrown out of court. For those of you that might be interested, the account of this can be found in the Bible in Acts chapter 18.

While we were there in the middle of the excavations, looking around me, it was very easy to picture the entire scene of that time. I was asked to share a short devotional here which was very humbling. I say humbling because I had to ask myself “would I have had the courage of Paul, to stand so strongly for my beliefs, facing the opposition that he did?” I doubt it. Like many, I am content to live my faith in a very mediocre version. I certainly left Corinth with much to think about in my own life.

Read Full Post »

imagesIMG_0577Welcome to Athens! Named after the goddess Athena in Greek mythology, Athens is a beautiful city with its highest point being the “The IMG_0569Acropolis,” home of the Parthenon. For those of you that may not be familiar with Greek mythology, Athena arrived on the scene springing from the forehead of her father Zeus, being fully grown and clad in armor. Now I have two daughters, and I might even have had one or two headaches over the past 25 years induced from being a father of daughters…but nothing like the headache Zeus must have had! lol

We docked in the Port of Piraeus at 6:00 AM and were eager to get started on a full day of site-seeing. Once again we were on a smaller private bus equipped with a wheelchair lift and our own guide. When we arrived at the Parthenon, the larger tour buses were parked near the bottom of the Acropolis and everyone was faced with a long walk ahead of them. Our bus had permission to drive us to a nice parking area right at the base of Mars Hill and the Acropolis.

When I got off the bus, we started a fairly steep climb to the main park entrance. The path was flat but certainly was not smooth. Remember as a kid when you would jump from rock to rock to get across a stream? Maneuvering my wheelchair here was something akin to that. I would jump/bounce my chair from one flat surface to the next trying to avoid the cracks and holes between the stones. Of course considering the stones had been set in place around 450 BC, it was actually pretty good. Wendy of course was helping me and taking it slow and easy I made it just fine.

IMG_0554IMG_0555Once we got to the main entrance, everyone else geared up for the long walk up the trail and stairs to the Parthenon. We veered left and took a trail that went up around the side of the Acropolis. It was pretty steep but made out of some decent pavement. Our guide was bringing us to an “elevator” that would bring us to the top. I’m still smiling thinking of the look on the face of a friend in our group as he saw the elevator. What it actually was, was a caged box that went up a sheer cliff wall on a single geared monorail type of IMG_0581system. The closer we got, the more nervous he got. I on the other had found it fascinating and looked forward to the ride up. We finally arrived at the bottom of some stairs where I rode a wheelchair lift up to the elevator. The operator, our guide, and Wendy and me piled into the small box, cage doors slid down with a bang behind me, and the entire thing rattled and shook as we started our ascent. Once above the tree tops, the view was breathtaking! There were holes and crevices in the cliff side that birds were sitting on their nest in watching us as we continued up and up. We finally reached the top with a slight jolting stop, the cage door slid open on the opposite side and I rolled out onto a ramp that hung over the top of the Acropolis. And there in front of us was the smaller Temple of Erechtheion and the Parthenon.

IMG_0575IMG_0564The smaller temple was dedicated to the Greek hero Erechtheion. The most fascinating feature to this temple was the “Porch of the Maidens.” Each maiden was uniquely sculpted and served as the columns to hold up the roof. There was a street that curved aroundIMG_0574 and up from here to the Parthenon. This was some very rough going for a wheelchair. However, once again people that I did not know at all came to the rescue. A guy volunteered to pull my wheelchair up the steep and rocky street so that I was able to sit right at the base of the Parthenon. I got to take plenty of pictures of the amazing structures that surrounded me. When I started back down, the same guy appeared and carefully brought me all the way back down to the ramp. I always found some amazingly nice and helpful people wherever I went.

I rolled out to the end of the ramp hanging in space and waited for the lift to come up for me. We got into our clanky little cage and started our descent down. Once at the bottom I “jumped” my wheelchair from stone to stone working my way back to the bus. Any accessible issues were minor indeed. I was just sitting in front of a 2500 year old temple from the past. Now how cool was that?!

Read Full Post »

IMG_0459Our first stop in Turkey was the ancient port city of Miletus. Visiting Miletus today certainly gives no indication that it was ever a port city. Over the centuries, the Maeander River has been depositing heavy silt, and the “port city” of Miletus is now 5 – 6 miles from the Aegean Sea. It was difficult to imagine that Miletus was once on a peninsula withIMG_0472 three major sea ports.

The focal point when driving in was the large and dominating Roman theater. Built in the 4th century BC, it was the second largest theater in Turkey with a seating capacity of 15,000. Still remarkably preserved, the larger part of our group was able to explore it uninhibited. And it was fun to watch all of them come pouring out of the “vomitoriums” (I just love that word!). Since the theater itself is not wheelchair accessible, I remained in front of it and was able to roll back and forth looking at all of the architectural wonders.

IMG_0462I want to mention something here that highly amused me but has absolutely nothing to do with Miletus or the theater – dogs. Most countries that I have visited always seem to have an abundance of stray cats. Miletus however had an abundance of stray dogs. Like the cats, they are homeless, skinny and I wanted to bring all of them home with me (Nasty look from Wendy). The amusing thing about theseIMG_0476 dogs was their behavior. For the most part they just sort of roamed around following our group hoping for a handout. They acted very “doggy” with slow wagging tails and their tongues hanging out. But they had one habit that made me snicker. They would be walking around with us, when without any warning they would just tip over and take a nap. And when I say “tip,” I mean it. At first I thought they must all have some medical condition to cause such strange behavior. I asked our guide and he just shrugged his shoulders, saying they all do it. It mattered not if they were under a tree, on a rock or in the middle of the road. Then some sound or smell would make them jump back up again until their next nap attack would strike. They actually reminded me a bit of myself!  Lol

We left Miletus and headed for Ephesus. The ruins of this ancient city were remarkable and it was very easy to see what a splendid city it must have been. We were looking at about 10% of the original city that has been excavated and that took approximately 140 years to accomplish. The main emphasis now is more on conservation and restoration of what has been unearthed rather than on further excavations.

IMG_0534The streets here are paved with very large stones that are worn smooth, cracked and some pretty rough going for wheelchairs. But my guide and bus driver were eager to help so I was able to move slowly along the streets and see everything. Once again the key is to have patience and take it slow. Three things here that I want to point out that have been excavated: the Celsus Library, the theater of Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis.IMG_0520

The one that I enjoyed seeing the most was the Celsus Library. It looked exactly like the pictures in all of the history books but it was so amazing to actually sit in front of it and take IMG_0537it all in with its surroundings. Some of it had been restored, but much of the original was still intact. It gave off an aura that bespoke of splendor. Ephesus, which had an approximate population of 250,000 in the first century BC, was one of the largest and busiestIMG_0504 commercial port cities of its day. The library certainly gave testimony to that fact. We also saw the theater of Ephesus which once again dominated the entire area. It was the largest Roman theater which seated approximately 25,000 people. It was still in remarkable condition and restoration projects were in progress to maintain it. The Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was no longer much of a wonder. When the temple was built it had 127 columns that stood 60 ft high. Today, only one column has been partially resurrected to indicate where an ancient wonder once stood. I did include a model picture of what it would have looked like.

Miniaturk_009I end with a quote – “I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of ZeusIMG_0488 by the Alpheus, and hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, ‘Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand.’”

Antipater, Greek Anthology (IX.58)

Read Full Post »

Our second day in Italy did not start out quite like Wendy and I planned. We were both exhausted when we finally hit the bed, so we should have known better, but we did not set our alarm. We were not leaving the hotel until 8:00 AM. so we thought we would be fine. I woke up to look at the clock and it was 7:15 AM!! Now if you want me in a panic mode, being late for anything will do it. But Wendy and I got ready, packed, had our luggage downstairs, ate breakfast and did all of that in 45 minutes. Let’s just say I did not let any grass grow under my wheels that morning.  Lol

Wendy and I boarded our mini bus and set out for the Colosseum. We enjoyed the many sites along the way of shops, cafes, people and lots of traffic.  As we approached the Colosseum it definitely was the major presence in the area. Once again, seeing a picture of something in a book versus real life is totally different. In its day, the Colosseum must have been amazing, but it now gave me the impression of something that needed to be treated with great delicacy. I guess I had never thought of it that way before. Monumental in size and history it was spectacular. But thousands of years of wear and tear, as well as being scavenged by people to build other structures, have taken its toll. In the pictures you can see holes covering the entire structure. The holes are where materials – iron and marble – were removed for other building projects. Of course it is now being preserved and protected, and there are reconstruction efforts going on as you can see from the many scaffolds.

The Colosseum itself was approximately 160 feet high, could hold 55,000 spectators and had over 80 entrances. It took about 8 years to finish the structure and was built on the site of an artificial lake that was originally part of Nero’s gardens in the center of Rome. It consisted of four stories above ground and one story below ground where the animals were kept. There were also mechanical devices that were used to raise the animals to the center of the arena.  There was also a canopy, made from sails to shield the spectators from the sun, which could be pulled over the structure in a matter of minutes. This was accomplished with giant poles, ropes and about 1000 men.

The interior of the Colosseum was very accessible. Entering at the ground level the floors were mostly flat stone and ramps. At one end there is an elevator that can be used to access all floors. As with most ancient sites that I have been to, I just take my time and bounce my wheelchair over the rough spots. Even though the surface may be flat, there are cracks between the stones and lots of holes that love to catch my front wheels. So I strongly advise the slow and easy approach to getting around. That is much better than taking a nose dive from my chair.

The grounds around the Colosseum were very beautiful with lots of trees, flowers and other ancient monuments. The pine trees around here were beautiful. They are Italian Stone Pines and are very different from the White Pines that I am familiar with in Maine that grow straight and tall. They are referred to as Umbrella Pines and branch out to create a lush looking canopy. There is also the triumphal Arch of Constantine, which is a towering 69 ft high, just outside the Colosseum. We also saw the base of Nero’s statue that has been excavated. It is approximately 75 square feet and was originally covered with marble. Nero commissioned the 120 ft. Colossus of himself to be made from bronze and placed outside of his private palace. After the death of Nero, the head of the statue went through several changes depending on who was emperor at the time. It was later moved to the Colosseum area around 128 A.D., but there is no trace of the statue today.

After leaving the Colosseum we went on a small trek to the Roman Forum. On this walk we saw many beautiful and ancient buildings all around us. And of course what would a tour to the Colosseum be without seeing some Gladiators! Going into the excavated Forum was very “interesting” for a wheelchair. It was a flat paved surface but the incline was extremely steep. My guide had my wheelchair and backed me all the way down.

For centuries the Forum was the heartbeat of Roman public life. Everything important that happened in Rome happened at the Forum: processions, speeches, commercial activity, Roman Senate meetings and elections all took place here. The Forum also was the home of the ancient city shrines and temples. Much is still in the process of excavation and restoration but the temple complex of the Vestal Virgins is very well preserved along with many other monuments, arches and shrines.

When it was time to leave the Forum I thought, “Oh great, mountain climbing time.” My guide then grabbed my wheelchair and told me to hold on. He then started running to get up some speed and up the mountain we went! He was shouting in English and Italian all the way – “Excuse me! Pardon me! Look out! Get out of the way!” I’m still laughing about it remembering the people diving to the sides so they wouldn’t get mowed down by us. When we got to the top he was completely out of breath and I felt like I had just got off a rollercoaster. Got to love it! Lol

All of us then boarded the busses and headed to Civitavecchia where we would meet our new home for the next 14 days, Mariner of The Seas.

Read Full Post »