Up on Pnyx hill, a perfect late summer night settles in. The cool breeze whisks away the noise of the city at your feet, now a twinkling mass of artificial light.

Where the National Observatory of Athens stands overlooking the city, car horns are replaced by soothing cicada songs and daily stress gives way to inner peace. Here, it’s quiet, dark, magnificent. Lay your head down on the earth, still warm from the heat of the day, and look up, open up: mind and memory, senses and soul.

Thousands of years ago, when campfires flickered instead of the blazing electric light show of today and  the stars beamed much  brighter, did the great Greek astronomers ponder the big questions under the same patch of twinkling sky as you do now? Did Democritus, Ptolemy, and Meton of Athens travel the same paths of bewilderment and awe?

Stars and planets, suns and moons, atoms and particles  ̶  a mosaic of thoughts and emotions stretches your mind to the limits: sci-fi wanderlust and primordial fears; snapshots of physics books and astrophotography feeds; Plato’s parallel world of images and forms, a space Odyssey to match our own Aegean tales; inklings of faith and remnants of dreams. In these moments, you lose yourself as you find yourself; a cosmic balance between light and dark; sheer poetry.

A growling stomach snaps your attention back to more earthly concerns and your eyes to the horizon, where the city awaits with sweet sounds and savory smells to lure you back. The bars and taverns within walking distance are exactly what you need and there are numerous places to explore in the city… But up above? Exploration is limitless!

Originally published on This is Athens: Never Ending Stories #51

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