Archaeological site, (Tel. 321.02.19)
The rock of the Acropolis with its natural spring, the "Klepsydra" and its caves, mostly on its norhern side, has been inhabited since Neolithic times. During the Mycenaean Age, it was fortified with Cyclopean walls which protected the king' s palace and the residences of the senior officials on the summit. In early historical times, the palace was supercaded by a temple dedicated to Poseidon, god of the spring and to Athena, goddess of the olive tree. In archaic times, the temple was twice destroyed and rebuilt. On the second occasion (in the years of the Peisistratids towards the close of the 6th century B.C.), it was adorned with excellent carved gables while a second temple, dedicated to Athena, began to be built further South on the rock. in the meantime, after the Panathenaean festivals were established (in 566 B.C.), the first monumental Propylaea were built on the western approaches to the rock, together with an altar dedicated to Athena Niki. Apart from these, various other temples and shrines stood on the rock, dedicated to various gods and demi-gods, heroes and daemons and there were also some open-air altars. In 480 B.C., all temples on the Acropolis and the entire city of Athens were sacked by the Persians and burnt. Today' s layout of the fortified citadel is the work of Pericles who, aided by his principal collaborator Pheidias, had the temples on the Acropolis rebuilt, after first having completed defensive walls first started by Kimon. The first temple to be built was that dedicated to the Virgin goddess Athena. This was the Parthenon and lktinos was its architect while Pheidias and his pupils had charge of general constructional supervision and of the decorative carvings. It was the first time that a peripteral temple in the Doric style was decorated all round with a sculptured frieze 160 metres long, illustrating the Panathenaean Proces sion. The 92 metopes were also sculptured with reliefs representing a battle with giants, a battle with amazons, battles with centaurs and scenes from the Trojan War. The gold and ivory statue of the goddess Athena, the work of Pheidias, was set up in the interior. When construction of the temple had been completed, the pedimental sculptures were added. The birth of Athena out of the head of Zeus, was depicted on the eastern pediment, the quarrel between Poseidon and Athena for possession of Attica was shown on the western pediment. Then followed construction of the impressive Propylaea by the architect Mnisicles. A little later, a third architect, Kallikrates, built the elegant temple of Athena Niki in the lonic style, also known as the temple of the Wingless Victory (on the tower which had been formed to the South of the Propylaea). Its frieze was decorated with scenes from the historic battle of Plataeai while its marble ballustrade showed Athena Niki and other Niki figures. Last to be built, in the lonic style, was the Erechtheion temple which occupied the site of the former temple of Athena and Poseidon and was dedicated to the two deities. However, it also became the resting place for the tombs of the creators of Athens, Erechtheus and Kekrops. The elegant porch of the Karyatids gives only a faint notion of the luxurious construction of this temple. Of all other buildings and votive offerings which decorated the rock in classical times, traces only are left (e.g. the sanctuary of Vravronia Artemis, the Halkothiki, etc.). in Roman times, a small circular temple of Augustus and Rome was added but did not survive. The Beule Gate (named after the French archaeologist who discovered it in 1852) was also added South on the Propylaea.
The Acropolis Museum(Tel. 323.66.65).
The Museum occupies the S.E. extremity of the rock of the Acropolis where once stood the sanctuary of Pandion. The Museum contains mainly pedimental sculpture, reliefs and statues found on the rock of the Acropolis, which formed part of the decoration of its buildings or were dedicated to the goddess Athena. Among the latter is the unique collection in the world of statues of female figures of the archa'ic era known as the "Korai" with the well known archaic smile, such as the Kore of Lyons, the Kore of Naxos, the Kore of Chios, the Peploforos Kore, the Kore of Antinor, the Kore of Euthidikos, etc. From the remaining votive offering sculptures those of outstanding interest are the Moschoforos (man carrying a calf across his shoulders), Rampin' s horseman, a hunting dog, the Boy by Kritias, the head of the blonde youth, etc. There are also sphinxes, four-horse chariots and many votive reliefs such as that of Lenormant, Athena in Meditation etc. Pedimental sculptures from various buildings on the Acropolis of the 6th century B.C. dl-pict lions devouring a calf, the monster Typhon with three human heads and bodies watching the struggle between Hercules and Triton, the struggle of Hercules with the Lernaia Hydra, the introduction of Hercules to Olympus etc. There are also four spiendid pedimental figures from the battle of the giants ("Gigantomachia") showing the goddess Athena and giants, which had adorned the eastern pediment of the temple built by the Peisistratids. In addition, there are some sections of the frieze of the Parthenon and of that of the Erechtheion as well as of sections from the marble balustrade of the temple of Athena Niki. The slab from the frieze of the Parthenon, which shows Apollo, Artemis and Poseidon, is of exceptional beauty, probably being the work of Agorakritos, a pupil of Pheidias. Another beautiful slab from the temple of Athena Niki is that showing her undoing her sandal.
Buildings on the southern slope of the Acropolis
On this side of the rock of the Acropolis there are buildings belonging to various periods. The Temenos of Dionysos Elefthereus (Hellenistic period) whose main entrance stood on the Street of the Tripod (Tripodon), shows the foundations of two temples and a large altar. The Theatre of Dionysus also belongs to the sanctuary (4th century B.C.). To the North of the Theatre stood the choregi monument of Thrasyllos and votive offerings to other victors at choregic contests. To the N.W. of the theatre stood the Askiepeion, consisting of an old and a later precinct with a spring, a sanctuary, an altar and an arcade while, to the East, stood the Odeon of Pericies. In Roman times, the roofed Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the benefactor of Athens, was built and linked to the Theatre of Dionysos by the Eumenes Stoa (arcade) of the Hellenistic period. The cave above the Theatre of Dionysos was converted in Byzantine times into a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary "Chryssospiliotissa".
The Choregic Monument Of Lysicrates Or "Diogenes Lamp"
The Diogenes Lamp is a choregic monument of the 4th century B.C.
which stands at the junction of Lysicrates and Lord Byron Streets. It
served as a pedestal for the bronze tripod set upon its summit - a
trophy for the victor of a choregic contest.
The Areopagus is a rock with an artificially levelled
top which lies to the S.W. of the Acropolis and is not as high. The
Council of Elders of the Areopagus held its sessions there and it was
the most ancient political and simultaneously judiciary body in
The Hill Of Philopappus Or Hill Of The Muses
On its summit stands the
monument of the Roman benefactor of Athens Gaius Julius Antiochus
Philopappus (2nd century A.D.) from which the visitor has a vantage
point offering a magnificent panoramic view of Athens, embracing the
plain of Attica with the Acropolis, mount Hymettus (Imitos) and the
landscape down to the Saronic Gulf.
The Pnyx Hill (Pnika)
This lies close to the Avenue of Paul the
Apostle (Leoforos Apostolou Pavlou). It is a spacious, semi-circular
terrace, artificially levelled out of the rockside, with a rostrum for
orators. It was the meeting place for the Assembly of the city of
The Ancient Agora
The Temple of Hephaestus or Theseion.
This has been built upon the low knoll called the Agoraios Kolonos and is the best preserved ancient temple (5th century B.C.). it was built by the same architect who designed the temple of Nemesis at Ramnous and the temple of Ares at Acharnai. it is in the Doric style (peripteral) with an internal frieze in the pronaos and the opisthodomos. Only the metopes of the eastern and western sides carried ornamental reliefs (the Labours of Hercules). There were also sculptured representations in the pediments.
The Area of the Ancient Agora.
East of the temple of Theseion, spreads the space once occupied by the ancient Agora which was thw centre of everyday Athenian life, the seat of administrative bodies and of the Courts of Law. At its western extremity, below the knoll of the Theseion, was the Stoa (arcade) of Dios Elefthereos, the temple of Patro6s Apollo, the Council House or Assembly Hall, the Mitroon (or temple of the Mother of the Gods) where the State archives were kept, the Tholos where the city elders took their meals, the Peribolos of the Eponymous !ieroes and Military Headquarters. The other three sides of the Agora were bounded by commercial arcades. On the northerm side stood the Stoa of Hermes and the Poikile Stoa. On the eastern side stood the Stoa of Attalus and to the South were the Messea Stoa and the Notia Stoa. Here, also, stood the ancient Court of Law known as the Heliaia, the famous fountain of the Nine Spouts ("Enneakrounos") and the mint where the coins of ancient Athens were struck. The Panathenean Way cut right across the Agora. In Roman times, the 5th century B.C. temple of Ares was dismantled from its original site at the village of Acharnai and re-assembled in the midst of the Agora. The same open space of the Agora was used for building Agripa's Odeon and the Gymnasium. To the S.E. of the Stoa of Attalus, the small public library of Pantainos was built. Fountains, small shrines and various other buildings were added to the Agora. In early Byzantine times, the Stoa of the Giants was built. It served educational purposes and adorned the facade of the Gymnasium.
Stoa of Attalus (Tel. 32 1.01.85)
This was built by Attalus the Second, King of Pergamos (1 59-1 38 B.C.) purely for trading purposes. It was a two-storey building with internal and external rows of pillars which lead into 21 shops on each floor. Fully restored today, the arcade is used as a museum with entrances giving on to Theseion (Thissio) Square and Andrianou Street. It contains mostly finds from the excavations carried out in the area of the Agora. Among these are numerous inscriptions, statues, reliefs, pieces from the temples of Hephaistos and Ares, thousands of vases, coins, bronze articles, miniatures, etc. Some of the more interesting items found are the weight and measurement standards, a clay waterclock, part of the ballot box used for the election of city officials in Athens, a bronze shield taken from the defeated Spartans on the island of Sfaktiria "ostraka" (sherds) bearing the names of well-known Athenians such as Aristides the Just, Kallixenos and others, as well as an inscription containing a law passed in 336 B.C. against tyranny.
The Roman Forum
This lies further to the East than the ancient Greek Agora, at the
beginning of Aeolou (Eolou) Street. its construction began in the days of
Julius Caesar but was not completed until the reigns of the emperors
Hadrian and Trajan. It consists of a rectangular commercial arcade
surrounded by a peribolos or outer courtyard. Two gateways led in
from East and West.
The Kerameikos Cemetery
The area contains sections of the ancient city walls of Athens,
including the Dipylon and lera Pyli gates as well as the city' s ancient
cemetery, the Kerameikos itself. It was in this area that the roads to
Athens from Piraeus, Eleusis, Boeotia and Plato' s Academy converged.
The road from Plato' s Academy led up to the Dipylon which was
the city' s main gate while the lera Odos (or "Holy Way") from
Eleusis led up to the lera Pyli ("Holy Gate"). Between the two gates
stood the Pompeion which was the building from which the
Panathenaea Procession used to set out. The Kerameikos cemetery
extended beyond the Dipylon Gate. Its most interesting section was
the Street of Tombs (Odos ton Tafon), flanked on either side by the
tombs of wealthy Athenians. Some of the best known of these tombs
belong to Dexileo, the ighisso Proxenou family, the tomb of Demetria and
Museum (Tel.: 346.35.52)
Entrance is from 148, Ermou Street. It contains some beautiful finds from the ancient cemetery, largely in the form of tombstones ("Stelae") and a notable collection of vases.
The Clock Of Andronikos Kurrhestes
This is located outside the western entrance to the Roman
Market. It was constructed in the lst centrury B.C. by the
astronomer Andronikos from Kyrrhos in Macedonia and is shaped like
an octagonal tower. It served as a form of meteorological station
since it combined a sundial and waterclock and also had a
weathervane to show the direction of the wind. Each face is adorned with
a relief representing the wind blowing from that direction, hence
its nickname in Greek "aerides" meaning "the winds".
This lies to the North of the Roman Market. It was built by the
Roman emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century A.D. and donated to the city of
Athens. It is likewise a rectangular peristyle market place with five
rooms built onto its eastern side. The middle room served as a
library with niches in its walls to accommodate manuscripts.
This stands at the junction of Olga and Amalias Avenues. It was
built by the emperor Hadrian in the early part of the 2nd
century A.D. and marked the boundary between the ancient city of
Athens and the new quarter which was given the name of New Athens
The Temple Of The Olympian Zeus
The temple of the Olympian Zeus stands on an artificial terrace
supported by a peribolos and occupies the site formed by the wedge
between Olga and Amalias Avenues. The centre portion is dominated by
the temple itself, the largest in Greece. it was begun in the days of
the Peisistratids in 530 B.C. and was not completed until 700 years
later, in the 2nd century A.D. by the emperor Hadrian. Dipteral, the
temple was built of Pentelic marble in the Corinthian style.
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