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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe Acropolis, the greatest sanctuary of ancient Athens, dedicated to Goddess Athena, dominates the center of the modern city from the flat-top limestone outcrop as the Acropolis. The Acropolis, a masterpieces of the 5th century BC, is a reflection of the splendor, power, and wealth of Athens at its greatest peak, the golden age of Pericles .
The most important buildings visible on the Acropolis today - that is, the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion, and the temple of Athena Nike, were erected during this period under the supervision of the greatest architects, sculptors, and artists of their time.
A fortification wall was built around it in the 13th century BC and the citadel became the center of a Mycenaean kingdom. After the establishment of Christianity and especially in the 6th century AD, the temples were converted into Christian churches. The Acropolis became the fortress of the medieval city.
Since then, the buildings of the Acropolis have undergone transformations into, at various times, a Florentine palace, an Islamic mosque, and a Turkish harem. After the liberation of Greece in 1822, the monuments of the Acropolis came under the care of the newly founded Greek state. Fortunately, many structures have since then been restored. Take a stroll through this amazing birthplace of Western civilization.
What to See
Beulé GateThe Beulé Gate, by which the Acropolis is accessed today, stands to the west of the Propylaia. The gate was named after the French archaeologist who investigated this area in 1852. The gate is framed to the north and south by two rectangular towers. Both the gate and the towers are made of reused building material from earlier structures, such as the choregic monument of Nikias , which once stood on the south slope of the Acropolis.
PropylaiaAfter climbing the steps you'll find yourself at the entrance, or the Propylaea, which was completed in 432 BC just before the outbreak of the Peloponnesian wars. The main building is at the top of the steps and is a rectangle that is divided by a wall into two porticoes with five entrance doors, the rows of columns are both Ionic and Doric. On both side of the entrance are smaller rooms, the one on your left as you enter was once a Pinakothiki, art gallery.
Temple of Athena NikeThe Temple of Athena Nike stands at the southeast edge of the Acropolis's Hill, on the right side of the Propylaia as you walk up the stairs to the Acropolis. Designed by Callicrates , the small temple was built in 426–421 BC to celebrate peace with Persia. The Temple of Athena Nike stood untouched until it was demolished in 1686 by the Turks, who used the stones to build defenses against the Venetians. It was later completely reassembled. The main structure, stylobate, and columns remain largely intact, but the temple is missing a roof and most of the typanae.
ParthenonThe Parthenon, a Doric temple, is the most photographed building on the Acropolis, and its columns are the undisputed symbol of the wealth of ancient Greece. Dedicated to the goddess Athena, the Parthenon later served as the treasury of the Delian League , an ancient alliance of cities formed to defeat the Persian incursion. It was designed by architects Iktinos and Callicrates, while the sculptor Pheidias conceived the temple's sculptural decoration and chryselephantine statue of Athena.
ErechtheumTo the left of the Parthenon is the Erechtheion, which the Athenians honored as the tomb of Erechtheus, a legendary king of Athens. The Erechtheum, built between 421 BC and 406 BC, is probably the second most-known building on the Acropolis after the Parthenon. The eastern part of the building was dedicated to Athena, while the western part served the cult of Poseidon-Erechtheus and held the altars of Hephaistus and Voutos, brother of Erechtheus. The most delightful feature is the south portico, known as the Caryatid Porch. It is supported on the heads of six maidens wearing delicately draped Ionian garments.
VisitingThe walk through the Acropolis takes about 3-4 hours, depending on the crowds, including an hour spent in the New Acropolis Museum across the street. The Acropolis is open daily from 8AM to 8PM (last admission 7.45PM). Take advantage of the Combined Acropolis ticket which, for €12 ($14), gives access to all the major sites, including the Hadrian's Library, the Museum of the Ancient Agora and the Theater of Dionyisos. Visit the Acropolis as soon as it opens or late-afternoon to avoid the crowds. It is also advisable to bring a good guidebook or at least a decent site plan.
Getting ThereThe Acropolis is pretty much situated in the middle of the city and is hard to miss. The nearest metro station is Akropoli. Entry to the Acropolis is via Dionysiou Areopagitou, the large pedestrian street that starts near Hadrian's Arch and goes around the north of the Acropolis until you come to the marble paths that lead up the hill or at the end of Adrianou street, you can walk up to the Acropolis through the Agora.
Theater of DionyisosThe Theater of Dionysus, situated at the Acropolis Hill's south slope, is the birthplace of European theater. The theater was originally built out of wood, until Lykourgous rebuilt it out of stone between 342 - 326 BC. The ruins that can be seen today are actually of a much larger theater built by the Romans. It could hold up to 17,000 people and was used as a Gladiatorial arena. You can still clearly see the mosaic floor depicting the the life of Dionysos that was added by the Roman Emperor Nero.
New Acropolis MuseumThe new Acropolis museum, just across the road from the Acropolis to the south-east on Dionysiou Areopagitou street, opened in June the 2009. A modern, glass-walled building set at the foot of the ancient Acropolis was designed by New York–based architect Bernard Tschumi. Main attractions such as votives, artifacts of every day life, statues from archaic period, Caryatids, and of course the Parthenon hall with the metopes, the pediments, and the frieze will impress you.
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Author: Ayda. Last updated: Jan 11, 2015