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Acropolis Tour:
Why a Guided Tour is Necessary

Acropolis Tour: Why a Guided Tour is Necessary

04 March 2020

Acropolis is one of the most famous and most-visited sites in the world. Every traveler coming to Athens wants to climb the Sacred Hill and learn more about the grand temple of Athena, the Parthenon. Considering that there are so many places in the world, chances are that most travelers will not visit Athens again. So, why not make sure that you will make the most out of it and experience Acropolis as you should? Here are 7 reasons why a guided tour on the Acropolis is necessary for creating a meaningful experience.

Image after introtext
Painting of the Acropolis by Leo von Klenze from 1846 [Public domain]

1. Discover the stories and true value behind the buildings of Acropolis

On the Acropolis Hill, you will find the most iconic building of Greece, the Parthenon! But would you recognize any other monument on the Hill? The interesting thing is that, although Parthenon is the most famous building, it is not the most sacred one on Acropolis Hill. Many travelers decide to climb the Hill and visit the site by themselves, but they simply skim the surface of the true value of those monuments. Most of them recognize the Parthenon, get excited for being there, take photos, enjoy the panoramic view of Athens and then they start descending to their next destination. By joining a guided tour of Acropolis with a local expert, you will discover a whole new world. You will time-travel to Ancient Athens, to an age of powerful gods and heroes. You will delve deep into the culture of the society and the stories of the people that created those marvels. Through interactive storytelling, you will understand the importance of the Parthenon and Erechtheion, not only as architectural wonders but as beacons of hope for the society that created them. To time-travel to Ancient Athens and really get to know the culture of the people that left us with an immense legacy, you need a guided tour. And the less the people in the group, the better!

See also: Best Time to Visit the Acropolis and Why

The Caryatids of Erechtheion on Acropolis

2. An experience that you cannot have on your own or through a guidebook

On the Acropolis site, there are a few inscriptions that cover the basic information of what you see (archaeologically/architecturally). You will read dry facts, dates and information that chances are you will forget sometime soon. Information that you will not use again are easy to forget, but experiences are engraved in the human’s memory forever! And the same applies to a guidebook. Walking by the nowadays non-existing colossal bronze statue of Athena, that you will know it was there only by the inscription, you will pass by it quickly in order to reach the Parthenon. You might not even look for extra information in your guidebook. The inscription is there, the information is in your guidebook, but the whole scenery lacks imagination. Now, imagine if you had booked a guided tour with a local expert. A tour guide is interactive. They will provide you with local insights and they are there to answer any questions you might have or delve into a conversation with you regarding a topic that you really like. They are your guide to the ancient world, not just to the site. This value cannot be found in a guidebook and surely not if you are visiting alone. The grand entrance of Propylaea would no longer be an entrance to the archaeological site, rather the entrance to an ancient world. Your stop to the non-existing bronze statue of Athena will no longer be a stop towards the Parthenon because your guide will draw an image so unparalleled that your imagination will force the statue to exist! You will “fly” to the port of Piraeus and like ancient travelers, you will look towards Athens and gaze upon the shining colossal statue, welcoming you to its city! And in a second, you will be back at the rock standing in front of it. There is always a limit to what a guidebook can include and almost no limit to what a tour guide can say. And this, of course, applies to anything, not just the Acropolis!

Reading an inscription across the Acropolis Hill

3. Have access to 3D technology that will brink Acropolis back to life

Greek TravelTellers are offering an extra service for the Acropolis tour. With the aid of 3D virtual and reconstruction technology and a tablet as an intermediary, you are able to marvel at the Acropolis’ buildings at their full glory! Our tour guides are now trained in this new technology and can guide you through it. You choose where to point the tablet and you see through it the ancient world coming to life. As you are looking to the view from the Propylaea, you see more pilgrims like you climbing up the rock of Acropolis to offer their prayers to goddess Athena. You see men in horses and animals destined to be sacrificed to gain the good favor of the Olympian Gods. You see the priestess of Athena, at the Temple of Athena Nike, lightning up the fire at the tripod. You can enter doors otherwise closed and see the treasures that they hid. You marvel at the metopes and the frieze of Parthenon with their bright colors (yeap, everything had bright colors in ancient Greece). An experience that will offer completely different value to your visit and it is possible only through a guided tour with this extra service.

4. Local secrets and legends about Acropolis that you cannot find in a guide book

Τhe Acropolis is not only the Parthenon. Most people ignore that fact; even Greeks! So, one of the perks of having a guided tour of Acropolis is that you will discover places and stories you had no idea they were even there, to begin with. Have you ever heard of or seen the Acropolis’ caves? One of them was used by heroes of WWII to climb the Acropolis and lower the Nazi symbol from its top. Did you know that there is also the cave of Pan? The Athenians dedicated it to the god of the wild, believing that he helped them win at the battle of Marathon. On the rock, there was even a sanatorium, the ancient Asklepieion, located next to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. The Odeon was not the only theater there. The theater of Dionysus, located a few meters after the main entrance of Acropolis and ignored by most visitors, is considered to be the first theater in the world and the place where tragedy was born! Underneath the Odeon there is even the Bride’s Sanctuary, where the wedding rituals would take place. They looked like many modern wedding customs, such as the bride’s dowry and the gifts to the newlyweds. Hidden sanctuaries, temples, monuments of invaluable value, unknown marble slabs and fountains that are skipped by the vast majority of visitors, are brought to life by your expert guide. Suddenly, the rock of Acropolis stops being just about the Parthenon and start becoming the beating heart of an ancient society that left indelible marks on the history book.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus on the slopes of Acropolis

5. Carefree stroll in the Ancient World

A traveler comes to Greece to live a unique experience and, with regard to the Acropolis Hill, to see and learn about one of the most famous monuments of world history. For many, the journey is a dream of a lifetime and they will not have the chance to repeat it. However, traveling in a foreign country can understandably be confusing and with many worries. You are not sure on whether you should pre-buy your tickets to the Acropolis’ site, whether it will be cheaper to buy it on-site, if you lose valuable time waiting in the line to get it, if you will skip a monument or pass by it in your effort to see the most important in the time you have, if you will need the assistance of a local who doesn’t speak your language for a problem you may encounter, if the guidebook you purchased will really help you on-site, and for so many other things. A guide comes as a magician, to save you from all of your worries and solve any problem without you even taking notice of it. They know which ticket is the cheapest one for you, they buy it in advance, you can skip the lines with them since they have privileged access to the archaeological sites, they make sure for you not to lose any important monument and bring everything around you to life! With an Acropolis guided tour, you can enjoy a carefree stroll in the Ancient World and focus where it truly matters: to your experience and delving deep into Greek culture.

Handmade signpost in Anafiotika

6. The experience of engaging with a local

If you aim to have a meaningful experience in Athens and truly discover Greek culture, then wandering around by yourself is not enough; for that, you need a local guide! A good guide is a person captivated by the beauty of their profession and they take pleasure from guiding you into their favorite parts of their city, showing to you its hidden treasures and sharing facts about their life and traditions. Nothing beats the experience of engaging with a local during your trips and the rich insights you will get into their way of life. It is an experience that will make you richer as a person and stay with you forever. And this is especially true when it comes to private guided tours. In a private Acropolis tour, for example, within those 2 or 3 hours, you will listen to so many beautiful stories about Athens’ past and get tips for Athens’ present. Your guide, knowledgeable and with contagious enthusiasm, will tell you everything about anything you want to know (and things you didn’t even think of asking) and engage with you in a unique way, creating memories that will bring you a smile every time you look back.

Temple of Athena Nike on Acropolis

7. Enjoy an Acropolis Museum tour as an Ancient Athenian

Most travelers like to combine an Acropolis Museum tour right after the Acropolis tour, to get the complete experience. The Acropolis Museum houses the artifacts and archaeological treasures found on the Acropolis Hill during the excavations. It was built in a way to reflect the Acropolis and mirror the architectural structure of the Parthenon. If you visit the Museum without an expert guide, sculptures, ceramics, frescoes and statues will be just objects of the past that you will pass by. Maybe you will spend some time reading some of the inscriptions about them, to get to know what they represent or what their use was, but this will be just dry facts that you will largely forget after a while. These exhibits have a history of their own which is connected to the people that created them and their society. That connection is what makes them important and not the objects themselves. By having a guided tour of the Acropolis Museum, your guide will give you the context behind the artifact and will time-travel you to that era, through storytelling. The exhibits will come to life for you and you will get to know the true history and culture of the society that created them. Through the storytelling, you will discover the story of Pallos’ family; you will be present at the debate of the Athens’ City Council about rebuilding or not the Acropolis monuments after their destruction during the Persian Wars; you will follow your little daughter as she becomes priestess of Goddess Athena and attend the wedding party of your son with all its customs… these are the stories that will be engraved in your memory and will stay with you possibly forever.

A traveler visits Acropolis to live a unique experience, to marvel at a monument that they admired for so long. For many, the journey is a dream of a lifetime and may not have the chance to repeat it. Booking an Acropolis tour, whether in private or in a small group, is surely the start of a wonderful vacation or city break in Athens. If you are looking for more meaningful experiences in the city of wonders, then discovering the Greek gastronomy can definitely be one of them. Here are 10 reasons why you should join a food tour in Athens. If you are looking to delve deeper into Greek Mythology, this is a list of sites you can tour in Athens and bring Greek Mythology to life.

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