For the past two years Five of Hearts and Five Ball have worked their way through Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus books. These wonderful books have spurred their interest in the Greek and Roman civilizations, and have been a lot of fun to read together as a family. As we already spent a week in Rome exploring the ancient sites (made even more exciting to the kids due to Rick Riordan’s writing), we were all looking forward to culminating the series with a trip to Athens, Greece. So, on our very first day in the city we headed straight towards the Acropolis where Percy, Annabeth, and the rest of the demigod gang spent their time in Athens.
Being the experts of on Greek Mythology, we let the kids take the lead as we made our way from the southern end of the Acropolis up to the very top. They had a blast climbing the steps at the Theatre of Dionysus and interacting with the “stray” dogs who hang around the ruins. The winds at the top was super gusty and the kids spent a great deal of time debating which one of us had angered Zeus. It was finally decided that Mom was to blame for accidentally squeezing wild olive juice all over her face and upsetting Athena, who then called in a favor from her dad 🙂
While the Acropolis holds some very impressive ruins including the Parthenon and the Erechtheum (the place where Poseidon and Athena had their contest over who would be the patron god of the city), the kids didn’t appreciate the crowds and the restrictions from the site staff. When the Younger Fives see giants rocks it is hard for them not to start climbing, but the Acropolis is not the place for this type of behavior. So, we soon headed downhill towards some more kids friendly sites.
Our first stop was the Areopagus, which the kids would describe as a massive boulder (the Ancient Greeks used it as a criminal court among other things). It was named after the Greek God Ares, and the kids had a blast climbing up and down the sides. From the Areopagus we spotted a huge green space that is known as Philopappos Hill or Hill of the Muses. This park was the highlight of the day and we spent close to two hours hiking around discovering the wonders that it contains. The kids were fascinated by the caves called the “Prison of Socrates” where Greece hid its valuable antiquities from the Nazi Army during World War 2. We also climbed up to the Philopappos Monument (dedicated to a powerful aristocrat who died in 116 AD) where the views of the Acropolis where amazing, and there were no other tourists. From the monument we ended up wandering downhill, going a bit off path, and eventually finding ourselves at Koile where in ancient times a residential area existed between the Hill of the Muses and the Hill of the Nymphs. We were able to see the remains of the road that ran through the area and connected the Acropolis with the sea.
Our final stop of the day was The Acropolis Museum, which was also a huge hit with the entire family. This wonderfully designed museum has really engaging Family Backpacks that can be checked out for free and keep even the youngest visitor happy. The boys had a blast playing the museum’s “In Search of the Goddess Athena” game, and the rest of us enjoyed the well organized layout and explanation of the Acropolis artifacts. However, we have to admit that the family favorite was the totally amazing model of the Acropolis made out of Lego Bricks. This really fun model, created by Ryan McNaught, captured all of our attentions as we spotted fun scenes from the Acropolis’ history. It included fun scenes of Alexander the Great talking to Diogenes and Elton John performing at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. We found everything about The Acropolis Museum to be family friendly, from the see-through floor panels (you can look down at excavated ruins) to the comfortable restaurant with fantastic views of the Acropolis.