One of the hidden gems in my trip to Athens was the Kerameikos, which is at the edge of ancient Athens. The old city wall runs through the site. This photo here shows a footpath just outside the inner city wall.
The city wall was an important demarcation point. According to ancient Athenian custom, the dead were buried outside the city. In addition to the major markers for the rich and famous, the ancient burial grounds have many smaller cylindrical tomb markers for the less well-off.
Within the historical site of the Keremeikos, the major structure is the Pompeion, an old temple. It’s best seen from the street above (the modern street level is a few meters above the level of the ancient ruins).
The Pompeion is set at an angle to the modern city streets, which surprised me. In many cases, modern streets evolved from ancient layouts. Once I made it down into the archeological site, I realized the reason for the precise layout of the Pompeion. Early in the day, the shadows showed me that the Pompeion was perfectly aligned with the rising sun:
Wandering around the historical site, you will move in and out of the ancient boundary of Athens. One of the major features in the site is a path that goes from the main gate at the Kerameikos to Plato’s Academy, which was located outside the city walls. I followed the foot path to the edge of the site, and wondered how many students had taken the path from ancient Athens to the academy over the centuries.