All cities are architectural conglomerates of their past, but few have the historical reach of Athens. Within a five-mile radius, one can view the Parthenon (completed in 438 B.C.), the remains of the Temple of Zeus Olympios (begun in the sixth century B.C. but only completed during the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s rule in A.D. 131–2), the post-Byzantine Athens Cathedral (finished in 1862), and the postmodern New Acropolis Museum (opened in June 2009). Coming across these various buildings, built for their various purposes, one might sense the great history that makes Athens its contemporary whole. Or one might feel like Claude in Arthur Hugh Clough’s Amours de Voyage, who saw in Rome neither the remnants of a great civilization, nor the vibrancy of the living Mediterranean, but “all the incongruous things of past incompatible ages”:...

 
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