The Istanbul Archaeological Museum was undergoing renovation when we went, so I don’t think we saw all the different exhibits they have. It also was that part of the time I was there I felt like I was walking through a rat maze. In any event, it has some really nice exhibits. However my favorite part was actually the Tiled Kiosk next door. I find the name amusing because when I hear kiosk, I think of a little booth in the mall with someone trying to sell cell phone accessories or some pillow that is going to solve all my health problems. The Tiled Kiosk is pretty though and has walls covered with tile, stained glass windows, and other art.
Our cruise through the Greek Islands ended in Turkey, where we visited Ephesus. The ruins of ancient Ephesus are amazing, partially because of how much is left. The library is just gorgeous. Several streets are still present which gives you a really good feel for how the city used to be. The public toilets make me glad to be alive in the indoor plumbing age.
This morning we went on a hike in the Naxos countryside through a few small villages. Our destination was the Kouros, but really the journey was the best part. We walked along a rather small road, which should almost be put in quotes but they do drive on it. There was a small aqueduct running alongside the road that appears to convey water from mountain runoff and springs to farms below.
We visited Naxos today. We spent the morning walking around the town and then spent the afternoon swimming in the Aegean Sea. The town has the classic Cycladic white stucco architecture with bright blue trim and doors. The downtown area has few streets and mainly has alleys on which we continually got lost. Most porches and entries and potted plants and bougainvillea. I love how these old cities areas have no green space, so most people put as many potted plants near their house as possible. The downtown area is highlighted by a castle that is really now part of the town. Just off of the harbor is the unfinished Temple of Apollo.
Right next to the Delphi archaeological site is the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia. It is a much smaller site, and I am not sure if it is technically considered to be part of the Delphi site. The main ruins at the site are those of the Thosos, which is a round building. A neat feature at the site is a mountain spring that flows onto the site and is channeled away in a small stone canal.
After we visited the archaeological Delphi site, we visited the museum next door. All the artifacts are from the site, and there are some amazing pieces in it. The pieces are amazing and masterfully made. I also can’t get over the detail into some of the pieces, especially ones that were supposed to be on top of structure and thus never seen up close.
Today we visited the archaeological site of Delphi. Delphi is definitely one of the most amazing archaeological sites to which I have ever been. It is not the biggest. Olympia and the Athens Acropolis are probably bigger, and both of them are very impressive. I think what I found so awe-inspiring about Delphi was not just the ruins, which are impressive, but also the setting. It is nestled into the mountains, and it reminds me of Machu Picchu. As an engineer, I haven’t stop being impressed with the construction of these sites, and at Delphi, I found the Polygonal Wall to be just amazing. Polygonal Wall is built of carved stones set on top each other without any mortar.
Today we visited the ancient site of Olympia where the original Olympic games were held. The site is huge, and they are still uncovering it. The gymnasium is only partially uncovered with something like 80% still left to dig up. There were two different areas where people were working to uncover remains while I was there. There were so many structures that I got confused at times what was what structure. Then of course there also pieces lying around in what I am sure is some logical method to the archaeologists, but to most of us, it looks like column, foundation, or undetermined piece of stone lying about everywhere with no clue as to which building it belongs. Then there is the stadium, which is unmistakable as it is a huge open area surrounded by sloped grassy areas, where I like most people, felt the need to traverse the distance just to say I walked across the ancient Olympic Stadium. Many others raced each other down the length of it. The entire site is just really neat to explore. I also really started examining the limestone that was used to make the structures. Some of the stone has eroded enough that I could examine the shells in it. Other limestone was being eroded by plants, lichen, and moss, who clearly had no respect for the history of the stone.
Today we visited Mycenae, which includes both the Treasury of Atreus and Mycenae Acropolis. The Mycenaean civilization dates back to the 15th to 12th century B.C. The architecture is impressive and unique and includes the triangle structure as a predecessor to the arch. The Treasury looks like a giant beehive from the inside and is just amazing to stand inside. The Lion Gate is possibly the most impressive and certainly (to my untrained eye) the most unique structure at the Acropolis.
After visiting the Corinth Canal, we stopped at Epidaurus to see the ancient Theater of Epidaurus and also the Sanctuary of Asklepios. The shrine of Asklepios, the god of medicine, became a site where ancient people came to seek healing or to ask for healing of other. The site also contains the fourth century theater, which is still in absolutely amazing condition. The acoustics of the theater are just astounding.