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ATHENS DANCES

The art of Dance, pioneered by the renowned choreographer Trish Brown, first took to the streets and became a “public” spectacle in April 1970. Since that time, hundreds of dance moves and pieces have sought expression and have provoked the reaction of audiences in open public spaces all over the world.

4 acts in 4 venues over 2 days

Four important acts in open spaces around Athens will draw us to the city center, which has become a lively living theatre over recent years, to take in and be a part of artistic events that are an increasingly important part of our lives these days. The Onassis Cultural Centre begins October with an “unexpected” weekend of dance in the streets of the city – specifically in: Syntagma Square, Kotzia Square in front of the neoclassical City Hall, the courtyard in front of the Acropolis Museum and the courtyard of the city’s new Museum of Modern Art (Fix) – surprising passers by with acrobatic dance routines and novel choreography designed to capture the attention and cultivate interest in the most active of art forms.

With Trisha Brown in the lead

The leading lady of the modern dance movement and the most iconic figure of American postmodern dance is undoubtedly Trisha Brown, who comes to Athens this month to present portions of her earlier work, such as the abstract masterpiece Accumulation, which made its debut in 1971, and more “theatrical” dances as well. The unconventional Boris Charmatz delights in leading his troupe in a selection of daring works, ignoring limits and restrictions, over the course of two exciting evenings. The dance troupe of Willi Dorner takes a fresh approach to gravity – scaling walls and pillars, while Yiannis Mandafounis and Aoife McAtamney bring to the city their riveting piece One One One, in which they place two members of the audience “on stage” and perform the entire dance just for them.

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The Temple of Olympian Zeus: 16 columns representing a masterpiece of the ancient world

The extensive urban archaeological park called the Olympeion contains: the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Temple of Apollo Delphinios, the Delphinion Court, the gates of the Themistoclean Wall, the Temple of Panhellenic Zeus, the Temple of Kronos and Rhea, Roman baths, classical residences, a Basilica from the 5th Century A.D. and, just outside the site’s fenced perimeter, the great Arch erected by Emperor Hadrian.

The columns: just one part of the archaeological site

We are used to calling this entire area “the Columns of Olympian Zeus” or “Hadrian’s Arch”. Whatever you choose to call it, however, the Olympeion site lies to the southeast of the Acropolis and covers some 60 stremmas (15 acres) between Vasilissis Olgas Avenue, Amalias Avenue, Ath. Diakou Street and the Athens Tennis Club.

The “miracle” of the great temple

Tradition has it that Deucalion, the mythical ancestor of the Greek people, erected the temple in honour of Zeus, while construction of the temple actually began in 515 B.C. under the rule of Pisistratus the Younger. The enormous temple was originally constructed using massive blocks of limestone and employing Doric columns. In 175 A.D., work on the temple began again under the Roman architect Cossutius using marble and more ornate Corinthian columns. It was finally inaugurated by the Emperor Hadrian in 131-132 A.D., and, at 110.35 meters long by 43.68 meters wide, it was the largest temple in the ancient world. Although only 16 of the temple’s original 104 columns remain today, it still is an impressive example of engineering, architecture and a vibrant civilization that continues to inspire.

KASTELLA: PIRAEUS’ MOST CHARMING “CHILD”

Known in antiquity as Munichia, modern-day Kastella (“Little Fort”) owes its name to the revolutionary fighters under the command of Georgios Karaiskakis, who were besieged on this hill by the troops of the Ottoman Pasha Kütahi during Greece’s War of Independence in 1821.

Neo-classical houses, beautiful and abandoned

Perched on a hill about 90 meters from Mikrolimano (“The Little Harbour”), Kastella is one of the loveliest little neighbourhoods in all of Attica, and is considered the jewel of Piraeus, with dozens of beautiful old houses still standing as scattered reminders of its glorious and prosperous past. From the quay at Mikrolimano, with its cafés and seafood restaurants, walk up the hill following a series of steps and narrow streets. At every corner and side street, impervious to the ravages of time and abandonment, you will see charming houses whose graceful architecture testifies to an era of taste and artistry.

The Church of Profitis Elias (Prophet Elijah)

Near the top of the hill stands the Church of Profitis Elias, newly built over a church first constructed by a private individual in 1860. The earthquake of 1981 proved fatal to the older structure, which was rebuilt with the contributions of the faithful, whose names are listed on two marble plaques on either side of the entrance, along with a short history of the church.

Veakeio Theatre

At the highest point of the hill, with an incredible view of the sea, stands the Veakeio Theatre, named in honour of the great Greek actor Emilios Veakis (1884-1951), a native son of Piraeus. On warm summer evenings, the theatre comes to life with a variety of select performances. Combine your visit to the theatre and the surrounding area with a concert, play or dance performance, dozens of which are held throughout the summer and fall.

A LITTLE HARBOUR WITH A LONG HISTORY

This little harbour at the foot of Kastella, a steep hill in a fashionable neighbourhood of Piraeus, was called the Port of Munichia in antiquity. In the Byzantine period it was called Fanari (Beacon), Turkolimano (Turkish Port) during the 400 years of Ottoman occupation, Koumoundourou Harbour during the modern era and, finally, Mikrolimano (Little Port) from 1967 until today. Whatever one calls it, this is definitely one of the most charming spots in Attica today. Mikrolimano is the smallest natural harbour among the several which comprise the modern port of Piraeus, and it is always protected from the southeastern breezes which gently caress its promenade.

A parade of personalities

“I envy my cousin, who can sit beside such an enchanting spot and enjoy it every day.” This comment, referring to King George II of Greece, was reportedly made by the Duke of Windsor during his visit to Turkolimano (then) with the notorious Mrs. Simpson. Other glamorous visitors have included: Herbert von Karajan, one of the greatest conductors of all time; Jane Fonda; Simone Signoret; our own Melina Mercouri; John Steinbeck; Gina Lollobrigida; Sophia Loren; the poets George Seferis and Nikos Kavvadias; Aristotle Onassis; Jackie Kennedy; the inimitable Maria Callas; Prince Rainier of Monaco; Grace Kelly; and recently Amal Alamoudin. Presidents and leaders of nations, poets, musicians, stars and personalities well known to nearly every common mortal – have all praised the special charm of this humble little harbour.

Now, as before…

Well known for its fishermen, fish restaurants and fine cooking; for its famous visitors who still dine at the water’s edge or stroll with the locals along the quay, today as in the past - Mikrolimano captivates one from the very first glimpse from the road which winds its way down from Kastella high above. So small and humble – and so beautiful – the “Little Port” calms both sight and soul. Visit Mikrolimano, and let it work its magic on you as well.

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