Today we went on a walking tour of some of the ancient places in Thessaloniki, and saw part of the downtown area. Daphne, our guide and one of the faculty at ACT, led us from the Rotunta of St. George past the Arch of Goderius and down by the waterfront, and then back through a busy street of modern downtown to Athonos Square and the ancient Agora (the marketplace).

I found it so contrastingly beautiful to see the ancient ruins right next to the apartment buildings of today’s population. It reminded me of why I was initially interested in coming to Greece.

Apartments overlooking the ruins around the Rotunda of St. George

When I was younger, my second grade teacher Ms. Bailes used to tell Greek myths to our class at story time. I was fascinated by the stories, and I read about them further in books, and ended up doing a summer camp she offered for the following few years. The camp was a week long, and she used the public library as out meeting place. We’d eat snacks and read and talk about ancient Greek life and she’d tell us the stories of Helen of Troy and the wars, the stories of the heroes, and (my favorites) the stories of the gods and goddesses.

As we got older, we began to learn about the stars and constellations, and about how the Romans adopted the myths and changed their names, and because of their influence how those names become quite prevalent.

This land and the city are steeped in history, and we can see it all around us. The Greek myths I grew up listening to and reading about are represented on the ruins beneath the modern city that was built right over them, and also represented in all the art and ideas that followed the Greeks and the Romans and their influence over so many parts of the world.