Lykavittos

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.

Lykavittos at dusk

Crane your neck / tilt the screen, etc., and blame Web 2.0 architecture or PB for the inability to post panos correctly

A slightly more comfortable view, not taken at the same time as the above

View from Lykavittos taken shortly after rain when the air was very clear. I used a 200 mm telephoto which compressed the distances between objects far from the lens (the phenomenon is known as “foreshortening”). The Parthenon looks like it's a five-minute walk from the sea, but it really, really isn't.

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    There are 24 comments, add yours!

    • # Stormfish

      gorgeous. how can you ever leave this place... are you sure you are doing the right thing?

      2009.06.17 Reply Cancel

    • # Tim

      geriatric tortoises disguised as waiters lol,,,I have to go there,,,

      2009.06.17 Reply Cancel

    • # David Swatton

      Interesting set - don't think I have seen these views before - that classic shot of the Acropolis tends to be from below. Thanks for the interesting perspective.... and use the f****** funicular next time :)

      2009.06.17 Reply Cancel

    • # Riaz

      excellent set! Ouch my neck, but Panos is beautiful! Thanks for sharing the details, makes interesting reading!

      2009.06.18 Reply Cancel

    • # Jon Laysell

      Neat shots - love the colouring. Thanks for the info on foreshortening. I think some of those tortoises have got waiting jobs round this way too ;-)

      2009.06.19 Reply Cancel

    • # Lostaspens Dad

      Beautiful! Interesting, I never thought about posting a Panorama on end like that. My favorite is # 1 tho. love the color and lighting

      2009.06.20 Reply Cancel

    • # Shell Smith

      Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous! I love Greece; it's got to be my favourite place to holiday. Never been to Athens mind, I should get myself out there!

      2009.06.21 Reply Cancel

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