In February 2016 Travel Bloggers Greece were invited by Alternative Athens to join their Mythology Tour. ‘Discover the greatest landmarks of Athens & their surrounding myths!’ – is the slogan on the site. The tour was described to us as suitable for families with kids and for people that love mythology. Both I and my 6-year-old are passionate about archaeology and mythology, so we could not resist joining this tour.
On a sunny Saturday morning, we met our tour guide Ioanna outside the main entrance door of the Temple of the Olympian Zeus. With it’s 104 columns, this is the biggest temple in Greece (the temple is also called the cursed temple because it took over 600 years to build it!) This site was the starting point of the mythology tour.
Ioanna told us that we were going to find out about ancient Greece through mythology, we would talk about the peak and decline of Athens and we would end our mythology tour at the ancient cemetery of Keramikos.
Our next stop was the Arch of Hadrian. A monumental gateway that resembles a Roman triumphal arch. It spanned an ancient road from the center of Athens, Greece, to the complex of structures on the East side of the city including the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
We walked through the city towards the Acropolis. It was nice to experience the city by foot.
Our next stop was the Acropolis and we visited all the highlights of the Acropolis mountain. The knowledge of our guide Ioanna was very impressive. She told us every relevant story of Greek mythology with much enthusiasm and passion. She answered all our questions and illustrated all the monuments with pictures showing us the past and present of the monuments. She also handed out postcards for the children and she showed us how the decorations and colors used to look.
At the Acropolis we had to visit the bathroom. Families with young children will be interested to know that there is a baby changing place in the new restrooms at the entrance of the main Acropolis. There are also bathrooms on top of the Acropolis next to the Parthenon but no changing area there. There are also water fountains at the Acropolis and at all the other sites that we visited today.
The story of the city of Athens could not be missing in the tour. We listed to the story of the competition between the God of the Sea, Poseidon and the Goddess Athena and we saw the olive trees that Athena gave to the city. We saw the hole in the roof where angry Poseidon had thrown his thunderbolt as well. Mythology and reality could not come closer than here on top of the Acropolis.
We had a welcomed break after the Acropolis visit. We sat down in a taverna and had the chance to order something to eat or drink. After our break we visited the Ancient Agora.
The site of the Ancient Agora is green and offers lots of shade. The vivid explanations of the tour guide brought us back into history and we could imagine what the agora would have looked like in the past. The agora shows one reconstructed (not restored!) ‘stoa’. At the ancient Agora we visited the very well preserved temple of Hephaestus (also known as Thisio) The reason why this temple is well preserved is that it has been turned later into a Christian church. Another interesting fact is that this temple has a roof. We listened to the story of the centaurs here.
The last stop of the tour was at the ancient Keramikos Cemetery: one of the most important but least visited monuments in Athens! Kerameikos is named after Keramos, son of Dionysios and Ariadne, hero of the potters. The area was used continuously for burials from the twelfth century BC for over a thousand years.
The best part of this Mythology Tour is the story-telling. If you like stories and Greek mythology, this is the tour for you. This tour is very nice for children that have been already introduced to mythology. Our guide was able to discuss the myths of the monuments but she also reveals what was behind the myths and their meaning. I recommend this tour for families with kids of 10 years old and older.