Tourism in Contemporary Cities

Greenwich © David Gill

The International Tourism Studies Association (ITSA) Biennial Conference 2016 is taking place in Greenwich this week. One of the themes is ‘Heritage tourism in cities’, with an emphasis on UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

I will be presenting an analysis of visitor figures for UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece with a special emphasis on the period of austerity. One of my strands will be the city of Athens with the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Athenian Acropolis.

Traces of history and the Parthenon

Parthenon, north-east corner © David Gill

It is important to remember that the Parthenon was in use over several centuries and that it was adapted through time. In this north-east corner of the pediment is the (replica) of one of the horses of Selene, and at the south-east corner Helios emerging.

Below the pediment is a series of metopes showing a gigantomachy. (This theme was developed by the later Attalid sculptures, dated after 200 BC, placed in front of the east end of the Parthenon.)

The north-east corner of the Parthenon was later obscured by the construction of the Attalid monument, surmounted by a bronze chariot, for Attalos II, c. 178 BC. His chariot made the visual connection with the chariot containing Selene.

Parthenon, south-east corner © David Gill

On the architrave below each metope is a hole with the shadow of a circle. These are where the 14 gilded shields from Alexander the Great’s victory at Granikos (334 BC) were mounted. Thus Alexander was making the point that his victory over the Persians was as heroic as the gigantomachy.

Between each of the shields, and immediately below the triglyphs, are a series of holes. These are the traces of a bronze inscription that was pegged onto the architrave during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero in AD 61/2. This text honoured Nero, and it was erected by Tiberius Claudius Novius. They may have reflected Nero’s campaigns against the ‘new’ Persians, in the areas of Armenia and Parthia. In this way the dedication picked up the original 5th century BC Athenian iconography that celebrated the Hellenic victories over the Persians at Salamis and Plataia.

The Parthenon Marbles: 200th Anniversary of the Parliamentary Vote

The Parthenon pediment in the British Museum © David Gill

It is the 200th Anniversary of the Parliamentary Vote that led to the Parthenon Marbles forming part of the British Museum (see Looting Matters). The Parthenon forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Athenian Acropolis. Yet the architectural sculptures are displayed in London. Is it time to display the sculptures in sight of the temple for which they were created?

The New Acropolis Museum © David Gill

Getty to return further head to Italy

Terracotta head of Hades found near Morgantina. Source: MiBACT

The J. Paul Getty Museum is to hand over a terracotta head to Italian authorities tomorrow (details on Looting Matters). It will then be put on display in the museum at Aidone, alongside other objects returned from North American collections.

The head’s return raises wider questions about how the Getty acquired material from private collections in the 1980s in spite of the 1970 UNESCO Convention.

The Athenian Akropolis

The Athenian Akropolis © David Gill

The Athenian Akropolis was listed as a World Heritage site in 1987. The skyline is dominated by the Parthenon constructed during the 440s and 430 BC (and originally containing the chryselephantine statue of Athena Parthenos created by the sculptor Pheidias).

Erechtheion, Athens
The Erechtheion © David Gill

To the north of the Parthenon lies the complex of religious sites contained within the Erechtheion. This contains the caryatid porch that overlaps with the remains of the late 6th century BC temple of Athena.

Propylaia Athens
Propylaia © David Gill

The western entrance to the Akropolis is dominated by the Propylaia constructed towards the end of the Parthenon building project and halted by the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War. This was flanked on the south side by the temple of Athena Nike constructed in the 420s BC, and on the north by the Pinakotheke.


The Royal Cemetery at Vergina © David Gill

The World Heritage site of Vergina in Macedonia, Greece contains the Macedonian royal palace as well as the royal cemetery. Tomb II has been reconstructed to make a display for the objects found in the cemetery. It was thought that Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great, was buried in the tomb but the inscribed silver plate appears to be later. Other tombs dating to the fourth century BC have been found in the vicinity.

4th century BC tomb at Vergina © David Gill

The Macedonian palace overlooks the plain and cemetery. It contained a series of dining rooms as part of the complex.

The Royal Palace at Vergina © David Gill

Immediately below it was the theatre where Philip II was assassinated.

The theatre at Vergina © David Gill


Mycenae © David Gill
Mycenae © David Gill

The Late Bronze Age of Mycenae evokes images of the Homeric past of Greece. This was the reputed base of Agamemnon, and it was here that Heinrich Schliemann came to excavate.

The Lion Gate © David Gill
The Lion Gate © David Gill

The site includes the massive Cyclopean walls pierced by the ‘Lion Gate’, as well as the shaft graves and tholos tombs. The Late Bronze palace was found in the upper part of the acropolis. A ‘sanctuary’ site just inside the walls was found to contain blue faience plaques of the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III.

Tholos tomb at Mycenae © David Gill
Tholos tomb at Mycenae © David Gill

The site of Mycenae, along with the neighbouring Tiryns, forms part of the World Heritage Site (inscribed 1999).

The archaeological sites of Mycenae and Tiryns are the imposing ruins of the two greatest cities of the Mycenaean civilization, which dominated the eastern Mediterranean world from the 15th to the 12th century B.C. and played a vital role in the development of classical Greek culture. These two cities are indissolubly linked to the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey , which have influenced European art and literature for more than three millennia.


Mistra © David Gill
Mistra © David Gill

The town of Mistra lies on the western edge of Laconia. It was founded by the Franks in 1249. In 1348 it became the centre for the control of the Morea (or Peloponnese).

Laconia from Mistra © David Gill
Laconia from Mistra © David Gill

It replaced the earlier settlement of Sparta that lies to the east across the Eurotas valley.

Mistra © David Gill
Mistra © David Gill

The town contains a number of fine Byzantine churches. And at the top of the site is the Kastro, containing some of the original Frankish defences.

Mistra © David Gill
Mistra © David Gill

Mistra was inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1989.

Temple of Apollo Epikourios, Bassai

Temple of Apollo Epikourios © David Gill
Temple of Apollo Epikourios © David Gill

The temple of Apollo Epikourios lies high in the mountains of Arcadia in the western Peloponnese, Greece. It was constructed as a thanksgiving by the nearby polis of Phigaleia for protection from the plague that affected many communities in Greece in the early 420s BC.

The temple is constructed in the Doric order with 6 by 15 columns.


The interior contains engaged Ionic columns. There was also a single Corinthian column inside the cella.

Temple of Apollo Epikourios © David Gill
Temple of Apollo Epikourios © David Gill

The high altitude means that that there is potential damage to the temple. As a result a specially constructed ‘tent’ has been placed over the architectural remains.

Frieze from the temple of Apollo Epikourios © David Gill
Frieze from the temple of Apollo Epikourios © David Gill

The interior frieze showing battles with Amazons (Amazonomachy) and Centaurs (Centauromachy) is now in the British Museum.

The temple was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986.

DOE Guide: The Antonine Wall


The Department of Environment published guides on behalf of the Secretary of State for Scotland. The one for the Roman frontier known as the Antonine Wall was published in 1973 with a second impression in 1974. The text is by David J. Breeze, with illustrations by Tom Borthwick. The guide is printed with the equivalent of 6 pages on each side of the folded strip. The cost was 10p.

Four pages have a colour map showing the line of the wall with ‘the best places to see the wall’.

The text sections have an introduction to the Antonine Wall, as well as the Roman army. The reverse covers four of the forts: Rough Castle, Castlecary, Croy Hill, and Bar Hill. There is a plan for each of the four forts, and there is an additional aerial photograph of Rough Castle. Local directions are provided for each fort.

There is a short reading list of three items that includes the OS Map of the Antonine Wall.

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