Discover the Areopagus Hill, Great Views of Athens
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The Areopagus [Grk: Άρειος Πάγος] is a bare, solid marble hill that is centrally located adjacent to the entrance of the Acropolis. Its name translates to “Ares’ Rock”, and in Roman times it was called “Mars’ Hill”. The Areopagus has a very significant history, and it has been the scene of some of the most important events to occur in Athens’ history.
In ancient Athens, the Areopagus was also the home to a council of elders that had many changing roles, one of which was judging homicide cases and other serious crimes. In later Roman times it was here that the Apostle Paul delivered his sermon against paganism and idolatry to the Athenians and converted the first Athenians to Christianity. A plaque engraved with his famous sermon is appropriately placed on the side of the rock.
The Areopagus hill offers incredible views of the nearby Acropolis hill and gives a good scale of the fortifications built on top of the rock itself. Since the Acropolis is such a focal point in the city, seeing it a hundred different times from different angles, in different types of weather and at different times of day becomes somewhat of an obsession as it takes on a completely different form.
In addition to the spectacular views of the Acropolis, the Areopagus is also the perfect place to view other parts of the heart of ancient Athens. In fact, directly below the far side of the Areopagus sits the ancient Greek Agora, which was the social, political and economic heart of ancient Athens. The vast area of the Agora, as is the case with much of central Athens, is jam-packed with its own impressive historic sites.
The hill offers the perfect perch to view the Agora from above and you can easily point out three of its main sites. On one end of the agora you quite literally cannot miss the large, reconstructed Stoa of Attalos that now houses the Museum of the Ancient Agora. Just in front of the Stoa sits the small, ornately decorated 10th century Byzantine church of Aigoi Apostoloi, or the Church of the Holy Apostles. And on the opposite side of the Agora sits the stunning Temple of Hephaestus [or sometimes referred to as the Theseion]. The temple is remarkably well preserved, and it was completed shortly after its famous neighbor on the Acropolis—The Parthenon.
With amazing views of the Acropolis and the ancient Agora, the Areopagus Hill is the perfect place to take in the treasures and sites of ancient Athens surrounding you. Since the rock is such a favorite destination for tourists, the marble rock has become smoothed and surprisingly polished. While this makes for a beautiful looking rock, it is incredibly slippery—to say the least. The stairs carved into the rock have become so well travelled that they are no longer straight, so it may be better to reach the top of the rock using the modern metal stairs next to the originals.
How To Get There
The easiest way to reach the Areopagus Hill is from the pathway leaving the Acropolis. The rock rises is significantly higher than the walkway around it, and it is very easy to spot.
Word To The Wise
When visiting the Areopagus, keep in mind that the rock surface is surprisingly slippery, so make sure to wear appropriate shoes and walk carefully!
This post was written by GreekBoston.com