The Winds, An Obsession

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Let Me Explain

In Athens, Greece, at the foot of the world famous Acropolis, lies the ancient agora of Athens. Amongst the many scattered ruins, majestically stands The Tower of The Winds. I have visited it many times. Lemme tell you why…

Well, first of all, it’s a beautifully preserved structure. It helps that it’s small and rather solid, being built of Pentelic marble. It’s an octagonal clocktower that functioned as a “horologion” or "timepiece". The structure houses a combination of sundials, a water clock, and a wind vane. It is thought to be the world's first meteorological station. It’s also called “Aerides”, which means “Winds” in Greek, thus it’s common name of The Tower of The Winds. Scholars debate when exactly it was built; some suggest as early as the 2nd century B.C. before the rest of the agora.

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The shot above is from January 2017, when we were last in Greece. On a crisp afternoon, we toured the old Agora. Yes, The Tower of the Winds is that solid-looking structure taking up the left half of the photo! But, look! along the top you can see The Winds as they adorn the building. They are friezes, each facing the correct direction of the Wind demi-god they represent.

Luckily, throughout the ages, this unique little building captivated both the locals and the authorities. This is why it is so well preserved. In early Christian times, the building was used as a bell-tower for a nearby Eastern Orthodox church. Under Ottoman rule it became a tekke and was used by whirling dervishes. At that time, it was half buried, and traces of this can be observed in the interior, where Turkish inscriptions are visible on the walls. In the 19th century, it was fully excavated by the Archaeological Society of Athens.

Athens is full of marvelous artifacts from it’s long history. So much to take in and ponder. And, for me, one of the most intriguing has been this little gem. I painted my interpretation of the The Winds. The originals are large paintings on masonite with gold leaf. You can see the paintings in my portfolio gallery: http://www.kurtwalters.com/portfolio

And, in Spring of 2019, I created coasters, that I proudly sell on this site. If you haven’t stumbled across them yet, check ‘em out: http://www.kurtwalters.com/the-winds-coasters

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Well, I’m glad you read all of this. Should you ever travel to Greece, before you run off on your island-hopping itinerary, spend a couple of days in Athens. Even at the height of summer, it is a vibrant city with lots to see and do. AND, shoot me a note if any of the above proved useful!

—Kurt