Thiseio: Counting stars on Athens’ Western HillsAthens, Greece
The tour is an exploration of the Western Hills of Athens and the scenic neighbourhood of Theseio. It will take you on a journey from ancient Greek myth to the birth of astronomical observation in modern Greece. You will be inspired to look up at the sky, re-enchanted by the wonders of the shimmering, expansive cosmos of which we are a part.
1. The Hill of the MusesThe moment you encounter the Heroon of Musaeus and the funerary monument of Philopappos, you instantly notice the way they are nested in the landscape. The sky seems closer and the view is simply breathtaking.
2. The Doridis’ TelescopeIn close proximity to Meton’s observatory stands the Doridis’ telescope. Here, modern astronomy meets the ancient Greek stargazers. Let’s find out about their connection with the stars and other celestial objects.
3. National Observatory of AthensThe building crowning the hill is the Athens Observatory. Time to take yet another leap into the more recent past and discover the exciting history of the first scientific research institute in modern Greece.
Urania, the heavenly Muse
The Hill of the MusesThis Muse is not quite like the others. While her sisters presided over arts related to terrestrial affairs, Urania (meaning “the heavenly one”) kept her attention focused on the heavens. She was the Muse of astronomy and as such she could read the stars and foretell the future. Urania was often depicted in a flowing star-embroidered cloak, pointing to a celestial globe with a short staff. She encouraged any scholarly endeavour and was a source of inspiration to philosophers. Plato in his dialogue Phaedrus (360 BCE) singles her out as the Muse who is most concerned with the heaven and with thought and has “the sweetest utterance.”
Talking about stars
The Doridis’ TelescopeWhen it comes to the relationship of the ancient Greeks with the stars, science and philosophy, religious practices and mundane necessities intertwine. The stars were employed to track time and natural cycles as well as for agricultural and navigational purposes. This practical use of astronomy was distinguished from the loftier pursuits of the philosophers or the observations of the scientists who studied the celestial objects. The stars and constellations also played an important role in Greek religion. Since many Greek festivals were celebrated at night and outdoors, the starry sky must have been an integral part of the cult experience.
The world's first analogue computer
National Observatory of AthensThe sophisticated Antikythera mechanism has been baffling the scientists ever since its discovery in 1901, at the site of a shipwreck outside the Greek island of Antikythera (hence its name). This portable device (a bit larger than a modern laptop) dates from the 2nd century BCE. It was used to measure time, calculate the positions of celestial bodies, and predict astronomical phenomena decades in advance. The operator inserted data and the device produced relevant outputs. Sounds familiar? That may be because it worked as a complex analogue computer. A modern reproduction of the mechanism is exhibited in the Geoastrophysics Museum.
I am a historian from Athens with an MA in Creative Writing currently working as a freelance writer and editor. My PhD research concentrates on the representation of the past in immersive media.
|Address||It is a 10 min walk from Theseio metro station to get to the entrance and then another 10-15 min walk up the Hill of the Muses to get to the first stop.|
|Starting point||The sign indicating the entrance of the archaeological site of the Hill of the Muses (Philopappou), Pnyx Hill and the Hill of the Nymphs.|
|Finishing point||The entrance of the Ancient Agora of Athens archaeological site (Adrianou Street)|
|Know before you book|
|Know before you go|
|Areas||Theseio and Monastiraki|
|Opening hours||Three Western Hills: Open 24 h. Athens Observatory: Mon.-Fri. 09.00-14.00. Evening guided tours also available upon appointment. Herakleidon Museum: Mon.-Tue. 10.00-15.00, Wed.-Sun. 10.00-18.00. Ancient Agora of Athens: Open daily 08.00-16.00|
|Recommended visiting hours||10.00-15.00, weekdays preferably|
|Additional admission||Three Western Hills: No entrance fee National Observatory of Athens: 5 Euros Temple of Hephaestus: 8 Euros (for the Ancient Agora of Athens and the museum) Herakleidon Museum: 7 Euros (for both buildings)|
|Mandatory Items||Charged Smartphone, Headphones, Comfortable shoes|
|Directions to Starting Point||From Theseio metro station you walk along Apostolou Pavlou Street until you get to the point where it meets Dionysiou Areopagitou. Right there is the entrance of the archaeological site of the three hills which is indicated by a sign.|
Why take a self-guided tour?
This is a self-guided tour based on the award-winning storytelling concept developed by Clio Muse and the fascinating narratives prepared by our handpicked destination experts.
You can enjoy each multilingual tour by using your smartphone or tablet at your own pace even if you are offline. The interactive map on your screen will guide you step-by-step as you explore all points of interest along your route. Each stop comes with a selection of our signature stories allowing you to tailor the tour experience to your personal interests and schedule.
After downloading Clio Muse app, you can access this tour and activate it any moment you wish and also repeat it any time. To best enjoy our multimedia self-guided tour (comprising maps, video, audio and text) we recommend the use of headphones.