Rebuilding The Past

It’s Thursday and that can mean only one thing – doors!  However, today’s post is less about ‘doors’ and more about ‘doorways’.

Hadrian's Library
Athens – Hadrian’s Library

One of the big surprises of our visit to Greece was the discovery that in many places, the ruins of Ancient Greece are being rebuilt … or restored … or however you may want to look at it.

This became apparent on our first day visiting the Acropolis.  Gilles had been to Athens over 20 years ago on a business trip, and was surprised to discover that the Acropolis was much larger than he remembered.  Considerable restoration had been completed in the interim.

Acropolis – Athena Nike. This is one building that had been considerably restored in the past 20 years. (Gilles on the far right taking a photo)

The ‘scars’ from these rebuilds are evidenced by the differences in colour between the original stone and the required repair for a missing piece.

Delphi2
Delphi – Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia

In many areas we had visited, seemingly random stones on the ground were actually numbered, and on one occasion I glimpsed a ‘map’ that showed where the future location of that stone would be placed.  It reminded me of a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Delphi4
Delphi – Treasury of Athenians

In my opinion, one of the most ambitious of these restorations was the Stoa of Attalos in the heart of Athens.  It was rebuilt in the 1950s and now contains the Ancient Agora Museum.

Delphi19
Athens – Stoa of Attalos / Ancient Agora Museum

Like all the restorations, the Stoa of Attalos was rebuilt as a replica of the original – at least as close to the original as the archaeologist studies can determine.

Stoa of Attalos1
Athens – Ancient Agora Museum

Canada’s history can be measured by only a couple of centuries and I get excited by restorations of our modestly ‘old’ buildings, so my head hurts trying to grasp the scope of restoring an ancient civilization that’s over 2 millennia old.

The word ‘magnificent’ just doesn’t come close.

Acropolis
Acropolis – Erechtheum

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.

 

127 comments

  1. Hi Joanne, I came here from Sue’s blog site (Travel tales of life). These are great photos that reminded me the trip we made to Greece several years ago. 🙂

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  2. I love your photos. But I’m not too crazy about the restoration that is going on. The ruins now look like replicas of ancient ruins, not “the real deal”. Why does anyone feel the need to restore these ancient buildings? I’d really like to understand.

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  3. Joanne, I fell behind on reading blogs but was so excited to see these photos! I lingered and tried to imagine how this place echoes with the footsteps, movement of huge rocks and the hard took it took to erect such awesome monuments to an era of long, long ago.
    Hope you, Gilles and your sons have a fantastic (safe!) holiday season! 🎄💞✨May the new year bring you more wonderful adventures and travels. 🌐 By the way, I wouldn’t mind a “month of Greece!” 😀

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  4. So far I have not been to Greece so I find it most interesting and inspiring to looke over your shoulder, Joanne. Your photography is very good and this Sony Alpha 7II is great!
    Have a great weekend, Dina

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  5. These are all incredible. May I ask about the ground/floor in the Athens/museum hallway thingy? Is that marble underneath? Do you know? It’s quite shiny, and lends a grandeur. Love it. Great collection again, Joanne!

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  6. The Acropolis was being restored when we were there as well. I think it is likely an endless process with these ancient structures. Loved your description of the jigsaw puzzle. That is definitely how I felt too.

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  7. I can see what you meant favoring Delphi! That gallery of pillars of the museum is stunning! Even though it’s easy to see it’s (re)built later. I remember for the 3-day exam for art teachers (Holland) we had to be able to draw the pillars of different time periods from memory. Easy peasy. Drawing a collection of hats of a certain time period was where most stumbled on:)
    So, what’s next on your bucket list, Joanne?

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    • I still can’t keep all the different time periods of pillars clear in my head. It’s slippery information that just doesn’t want to stick!

      I don’t know what’s next from a travelling perspective. Next year’s big event is the wedding of our oldest son which will take a big financial bite. However, we will also be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary, so I hope we’ll be able to celebrate with something special.

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      • My brother keeps saying I/we would like Egypt. Instead we chose Italy, since the amenities would be nicer we figured. Italy is totally addictive (am just warning you – you want to go back!!)

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        • I’ve been fortunate to have travelled in Italy 3 times – and it’s never enough. I admit it took the third trip for me to finally fall irrevocably in love with the country, and now I constantly feel its pull.
          My husband too really wants to go to Egypt, but with the political climate in the Middle East, I’m less inclined to want to go. I think there are just some places in the world that it’s better for women to stay away from.

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    • The good news is that warmer weather is coming your way … at least if our weather is any indication. It was -14 this morning and *only* -8 now. Woohoo! Heat wave 😉

      btw – the other side of those pillars on the right is even better. Ancient statutes line the wall. I was in awe.

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  8. Beautiful pics. Just think, one day all those restored ruins will look like old ruins again. I wonder how many times they’ll keep restoring them, or if what they’re restoring now are previously-restored ruins from the past.

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    • Actually, the latter statement isn’t far off. Certainly at the Parthenon, they are currently repairing restorations that (based on my understanding) weren’t done properly.
      Considering how many times Athens has been destroyed by various warring armies, it makes sense that an equal number of restorations would eventually be required 😉

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  9. New subscriber here, I followed the link from the list on Profound Journey and found your wonderful blog. The pictures are so rich and clear it feels like I am actually there! I am grinning because the status as armchair tourist fits my budget perfectly. LOL, I look forward to discovering more of your blog as time permits. Oh, and I love, love, love your tagline. =)

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  10. That truly is a magnificent doorway at the end. I see from the comments that opinion is divided about the restoration. I admit I was quite shocked. Preservation, definitely, but inserting modern materials just seems wrong to me somehow.

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    • They are doing more than preserving. Where possible, they are restoring. I knew there would be mixed feelings, but I’m actually in favour. I think it will go a long way to helping people understand and appreciate the history and sophistication of this ancient society.
      Even the Tower of Pisa, which is half the age of the ancient ruins, required intervention by modern engineers to prevent it from continuing its downward to slope.

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  11. Wow – thanks for sharing these photos. Like you, I am always amazed by efforts to find, recover, restore, etc. buildings that are truly ancient compared to anything we have in our country. It must be a tremendous challenge,

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  12. Wonderful ancient history and a few magnificent doors as well.
    I also don’t know how I feel about restoring these old monuments by inserting new materials to take the place of the missing pieces. It must be painstaking work though – a giant jigsaw puzzle for sure.
    I loved this post Joanne – nicely done 🙂

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    • When I wrote this, I suspected people would be divided. Personally, I think that anything that helps people understand and appreciate history is a good thing.

      A number of years ago, a good friend of mine went to Greece with her family, including 2 young adult sons. They were often bored – all they saw were endless fields of stone.
      I looked at those same stones and saw the building blocks that used to make up the walls and columns of buildings. I’d love to be able to return in 20-30 years and see how much progress they’ve made.

      Realistically, I’ll be happy if I’m just still alive 😉

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    • If you love history, I definitely recommend Greece. I’m not a museum person, but I walked through 3 of them with my jaw practically on the ground the entire time. The buildings are just the tip of the iceberg. The artifacts found buried around these sites is a whole other story!

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    • I have never traveled anywhere that has generated more potential posts than Greece. There was just so much material to work with!! I wonder if the blogging community will eventually stage an intervention to get me to stop 😉

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  13. I’m loving sharing your Greek trip Joanne. I feel it’s a part of the world I actually know little about (as opposed to thinking I know stuff cos through popular culture). I’m not sure about restoring ruins though. Somehow the idea of trying to rebuild something that old doesn’t sit well with me. Having said that, I am a great believer in preservation and feel strongly about saving heritage buildings here. Maybe it’s about the difference in the extent of restoration, I’m not sure.
    Lovely photos as always 🙂

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    • This trip was so different. There are just so many potential stories stirring around in my head. I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to writing all of them, or eventually just run out of steam.

      I thought that this topic might be a bit polarizing. At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about it … until I realized that much of what I was seeing wouldn’t have been possible without both careful preservation and restoration. I regret that I won’t be able to return in 20 or 30 years to see what further progress they’ve made in bringing their history ‘back to life’.

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      • You’ll find an eager audience for any stories you do tell!! I listened to a podcast recently about heritage and preservation. It seems to be an issue that is polarising academics too.

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  14. Your photos are beautiful, Joanne…I too am not sure about how this restoration is going, but it does give you an idea of the scale of the buildings so long ago…interesting…but in a patchwork-quilt kind of way. I’m pretty sure that is not the look the Ancient Greeks were going for. 🙂

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    • The sense of walking through history is strong. I knew a lot of people might disapprove of the restoration work, but I think it’s important for future generations to be able to see and feel it – imperfect as it is.
      In fact, imperfect seems to make it perfect 🙂

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  15. I had no idea they had started doing that and I don’t like it. I hope the Italians will not follow this bad example and the Colosseum and all the other antique ruins will be preserved -but not touched up.

    Building a replica is one thing, but adding on to the old ancient stones seems wrong.

    However, I love your pictures.

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    • I knew many people would disapprove, but I’m actually in favour. I’m in awe of the skill in puzzle-solving to be able to take the rubble and, where possible, reposition it back to its original position.
      I regret I won’t be able to see in again in a few decades to see what progress they’ve made (or not made).

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      • I have a really hard time with this. It’s the circle of life, nothing is meant to last forever. No building and no life form.

        I like restaurations and repairs that can’t be seen, like in paintings or “The Leaning Tower of Pisa.” I do not like the puzzle look of new and old mixed together.

        This ongoing restoration is part of the Greece problem. So far the European Union had to pay half of it, with the bailout and they were not happy about it either.

        The Greece economy hit rock bottom, there is no money to help the people. This project will need another 50 Million to be finished and nobody knows where the money will come from.

        The have people working on the restorations for months, knowing that they can’t pay them at the end. People in Greece are not doing well and the little bit of tourism won’t cover the bills they create to keep the tourists coming.

        In the end I fear, the will have to auction the Acropolis and other buildings off to private investors and I hope I am very, very wrong with this prediction.

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  16. I’ve loved ‘tagging along’ with you on your trip to Greece. And I’ve learned a great deal along the way! Thank you for sharing this, Joanne.

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    • 1973 was the year I travelled to Europe for the first time and met my mother’s family in Holland … and was completely hooked!

      I think I’m going to stay on the side of being grateful for the restoration work. It gave me a great appreciation for the ancient civilization. If it can do that for future generations, I think that’s a good thing.

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  17. The ruins are massive, aren’t they? It’s hard to imagine building something so big so very long ago. That last photo, especially, is beautiful, Joanne.
    Hey–on another note….I watched a TV show last night about the Fogo Island Inn. Is that near you? Have you ever been? It looks beautiful.

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    • The ruins are massive – especially in Delphi where I got the clearest image of this ancient civilization and how sophisticated it was. I’m still trying to wrap my head around how to write about it.

      I had to look up Fogo Island because I had never heard of it. It’s actually off of Newfoundland – which is pretty far, and sadly one of only 2 provinces I’ve never been to.

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  18. You certainly have an eye for getting just the right photo, and we get to enjoy your efforts. Lucky us!! I like the idea of restoring these old ruins. I agree with the you that the skill of these archaeologists to be able to recreate the original structure is amazing. Thanks for sharing your trip. The photos and history beats anything I listened to in school! —-Ginger—-

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    • Thank you! That is such high praise! 🙂

      I liked history in high school but I know many people don’t. I think it could be so much richer and enjoyable by young people if the focus changed from dates and places to more the human side of the stories.

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  19. Thanks for taking me back to a place I haven’t seen since the mid-seventies but, being a history buff, really enjoyed. It’s interesting that they’re doing this restoration and although when first reading about it, I wasn’t sure I liked it, I think I do. It’s a great way to see what the buildings really looked like. The door is great, too, even though not ancient. 🙂

    janet

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    • I admit I knew virtually nothing about Ancient Greece before this trip, and I still don’t … but ALL THAT HISTORY!! It’s like trying to drink from a firehose.

      I’m in awe of this rebuilding effort and the skill of the archaeologists who can identify the pieces and put them together.
      I think that anything that can make history ‘come alive’ for future generations can’t be a bad thing.

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  20. Your door, and doorway, photos are stunning, Joanne. I’ve been meaning to say that for some time.

    I am well aware that it is the photographer – you have a gift – and not the equipment, but I am curious. What camera do you use?

    Liked by 2 people

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