The goddess Athena was carrying a bloody big rock to crown the Acropolis (which means “high place” anyway – gods are so into overkill) when she learnt of the death of her bosom buddy Pallas and, distraught with grief, dropped the rock that became the hill known since antiquity as Lykavittos.
She might have made it more accessible too, the ingrate. Trekking up there with a heavy tripod, panoramic head and camera kit weighing far too much when evening temperatures are still in the low 30s is a bitch. There is a funicular, but I’m one of those awkward bastards who refuse to acknowledge they’re getting old. It’s far more soothing – for the soul, at least – to risk cardiac seizure and heat stroke.
The hill is the highest point in Athens proper. The vertiginous summit is loved and hated by megalomaniacs and vertigo sufferers in equal proportion. Of course there is a church up there, along with one of the most expensive restaurants in Europe and a far cheaper bar staffed by geriatric tortoises disguised as waiters. Take your own bottled water and a book.
The hill takes its name from the generally held idea in ancient times that it was inhabited by wolves. Perhaps it should be rebranded ‘touristvittos’, as the views are extraordinary, much better than from the Acropolis. There is also a natural amphitheatre on an outcrop which is used as a venue for concerts. I saw James Brown, Macy Gray and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band all perform there. Perhaps American artists have a natural affinity with wolves…
I was rather disappointed with the night-time panorama. The Parthenon and the Vouli (parliament) are completely blown out. High air pressure has kept a lot of dust in the atmosphere (the plain of Athens really is a dust bowl), which explains the light smears. I also used the wrong lens and had to stop down the aperture because it’s windy up there and 20-second exposures get blurry. The other shots from and of Lykavittos were obviously taken at other times.
Might have to go back, but this time I’ll set off earlier, take it easier – and take some water with me.
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