Ascending the Acropolis is a breathtaking experience. Unless you are in shape, you really do feel breathless. At first you feel excited, and maybe walk too quickly. By the halfway mark, the calves tighten and breathing becomes heavy.
Sweat drips. Your heart thumps.
You feel mortal.
But then, climbing chose last few steps, you enter the marble gateway, the Propylaea, standing in the disorienting shade, with a breeze like in a wind tunnel.
Passing through the tall Ionic columns with their marble-coffered ceiling, you cross from shade into sunlight again and you are on the Acropolis plateau, the sacred ground. The Parthenon appears in three-quarter view. In antiquity, a 40-foot bronze statue of Athena made of melted armor from the Persian War would have been straight ahead of you. Like you, an ancient Athenian would have crossed, breathlessly, from the secular to the sacred worlds.