Acropolis, Athens

Welcome to the Parthenon on the Acropolis Hill, one of the world’s most important structures, considered a true symbol of civilization and democracy that has been standing for 2,500 years. Even in the stone age (Neolithic period), millennia before the Parthenon was built, the Acropolis represented a military fortress, thanks to its strategic vantage point over land and sea.

In Mycenaean times (some 5,000 years ago) the Acropolis Hill was already a religious center dedicated to the goddess Athena. The Parthenon, along with the Erechtheion and Temple of Nike were built over earlier temples on the Acropolis. When the Persians destroyed the Acropolis complex in 480 BC, Pericles rebuilt it about three decades later, reflecting most of what we see today. The Acropolis’ main structures include the Parthenon, the Erectheion, the Propylea and the temple of Athena Nike.

The Parthenon

An architectural masterpiece, the Parthenon in its original form boasted two pi-shaped colonnades that surrounded the 40-foot or 12-meter gold and ivory statue of Athena dressed in full armor. Above the outer colonnade there were 92 stunning reliefs in the monument’s heydays depicting four legendary battles, one on each side, complete with centaurs, amazons, giants, Lapiths and Trojans. The most notable ancient architects worked on the temple such as Ictinus and Callicrates, under the supervision of famed Athenian sculptor Phidias.

This excellent example of Doric architecture exploited Pentelic marble and architectural ‘tricks’ to create an outstanding effect: the columns were purposely crooked to compensate for optical illusions so that the structure could ultimately appear straight. It also had a pool of water in its midst, representing a luxuriously impressive monument that has withstood the test of time. Remains and copies of the intricate friezes and the two pediments can be seen at the Acropolis Museum.

Over the last 2,000 years, the Parthenon became a Byzantine church, a catholic church and an Ottoman mosque. It was bombed then pillaged by Venetian general Francisco Morosini in 1687 reducing it practically to a rubble. More recently, its outstanding marblework was plundered by the British Lord Elgin between 1801 and 1812, and the marbles now displayed shamelessly in the British Museum (do visit what has remained at the Acropolis Museum). Restoration attempts have brought it closer to its former glory, although to think it was in relatively very good shape before Morosini’s attack means it withstood almost 2,000 years of challenges and transmutations.

The Erectheion

Taking its name from Erechtonius, a mythical king with the body of a snake who was slain by Poseidon, this temple is a masterpiece of Ionic architecture. Its two parts are dedicated to Athena and Poseidon, and its northern porch – famed for the six female columns known as the Caryatids – was home to the sacred gift of Athena to the city, the olive tree.

Temple of Athena Nike

Closed to visitors, this square building boasts four Ionic columns at each end and an impressive frieze with the conference of gods among other scenes of mythology and war. It once held the outstanding statue of the goddess Athena holding a pomegranate (fertility) in one hand and a helmet (war) in the other.

The Propylea

Huge gateway to the Acropolis in Athens, with a central hall and two side wings. The northern gallery wing hosted painted panels while the southern wing before entering the Temple of Athena Nike featured gold and colorful decoration.

The Panathenaic Way

Route taken by the Panathenaic procession during the festival of Panathenaia, the most important event of ancient Athens dedicated to the goddess Athena, complete with dance, sports, drama and music contests.

Brauroneion

The goddess Artemis (or a version of her called Artemis Brauronia from Ancient Brauron not far from Athens) was venerated right here at the Brauroneion. The sanctuary built in her name held a wooden cult statue of the goddess. While neither the structure nor its contents remain, a 3D construction of the building yields a good idea of what it once looked like.

Sanctuary of Aphrodite and Eros

This enigmatic open-air place of worship was beloved by the masses. Nobody described it better than Kevin T. Glowacki, Assistant Professor of Art & Architectural History Texas A&M University: “As gods of love, marriage, and fertility, Aphrodite and her son Eros played important roles in the daily lives of the ancient Greeks, and their worship ranged from state-sponsored festivals to simple sacrifices and offerings made by individual men and women. The open-air sanctuary of Aphrodite and Eros on the north slope of the Acropolis of Athens is an instructive example of a less formal or “popular” shrine, where the ancient Athenians made dedications of sculpted reliefs, marble statuettes, and terracotta figurines — much like the ones on display in the exhibition “Aphrodite and the Gods of Love.” The sanctuary and its archaeological remains are analyzed from the perspective of the three main types of ritual activities that were intended to create and sustain personal relationships between mortals and their gods: prayer, sacrifice, and dedication.”

Chalkotheke

Chalkos means copper, and the word Chalkotheke conjures the idea of ‘copper store’. Thanks to ancient inscription, we now know that the building that once stood on this site housed metal objects and votive offerings, from statuettes and weapons to three-handled water jars (hydriae) – all dedicated to the goddess Athena. While nothing remains of the building today, we know it was a long rectangular structure featuring six columns.

Temple of Rome and Augustus

To put it in context, this Roman building was built several centuries after the Acropolis. There is controversy around where exactly this temple lay on the Acropolis Hill, but we do know that it was in the area and was dedicated by the city of Athens to Roman Emperor Octavian Augustus and to the goddess Rome. This was a more simple (more ‘modern’?) building with nine Ionic columns and a conical marble roof, representing a unique structure among the rest.

Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus

Zeus Polieus, meaning ‘Zeus of the City’, refers to the god’s role as city protector. While there aren’t any remains of this temple, archeologists have determined that its trapezoidal shape from rock cuttings where it stood. Evidence points out to the temple being used to contain oxen for sacrifice in a yearly event known as Bouphonia.

Older Parthenon

Before the current Parthenon was built, an even ‘Older Parthenon’ began to rise on the Acropolis Hill after the famed battle of marathon around 490 BC. But then the Persians sacked the city 10 years later and destroyed the building that was under construction, not far from its later and more impressive version. Some 33 years passed before the new Parthenon was built, probably because of political and financial reasons after the Persian run.

Pandroseion

Pandrosus, the mythical daughter of Cecrops the equally mythical first king of Athens, got her very own sanctuary on the Acropolis Hill, right near the Erechtheion. The once L-shaped portico may have contained the tomb of Cecrops representing the perfect example of how myth and reality were intertwined in Ancient Greece. The site was also home to an ancient olive tree, supposedly presented as a gift by the goddess Athena to the city of Athens.

Stenopos Kollytos Area

You might not notice it at first, but the area between the Pnyx and Thisseo hides some interesting finds. As you walk up the cobblestone street of Apostolou Pavlou, on the hilly terrain below the street are buildings and houses dating between the 4th century BC to the 4thcentury AD. Visible from the street is the ‘the House of the Roman Mosaic’ with a mosaic floor from the 2nd century AD, depicting two parrots drinking from a vessel. Findings from the area include two shrines from the 6th century BC along with votive offerings and inscriptions.

Theatre of Dionysus 

Dionysus, god of wine and patron of drama, was honored with a theatre in his name at the foothills of the Acropolis. Once being able to accommodate as many as 17,000 people, the theatre came to be somewhere in the sixth century BC and hosted events connected to the Dionysian festival of ancient times. The structure was initially made of wood and was eventually rebuilt in stone in the 4th century BC, representing most probably the first stone theatre ever built.

Many notable dramatists of Classical Greece competed here, including Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides, Menander and Sophocles. Greek tragedies formed the subject matter of most of the plays, including the Oresteia of Aeschylus, the famous trilogy of Agamemnon, Choephori, and Eumenides which won the Dionysian competition in 458 BC.

Today only some large stones remain in place from the redesigned Roman version that luckily wasn’t too different from the original structure. This time it was dedicated not only to Dionysus, but to Nero as well, reflecting an important sign of the times.

Share:

Attraction Information

Contact Details:

Acropolis of Athens, Athina 105 58 Greece

+30 210 3214172

efaath@culture.gr

http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/3/eh351.jsp?obj_id=2384

Entrance Fees:
  • Full: €20, €30 (5 days)
  • Reduced: €10, €15 ( 5 days)
Opening Hours - Winter
  • 08:00-17:00
Opening Hours - Summer
  • 08:00-20:00

Acropolis, Athens Location

More Attractions

Explore More In athens-city

Acharnian Gate of the Ancient Athens Wall

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Acropolis Museum

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Aegosthenes Fortress, Porto Germeno

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Amphiareion, North Attica

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Archaeological Museum of Eleusis, Elefsina

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Archaeological Museum of Megara

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Athens Railway Museum, Sepolia

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Bath House of the Winds, Plaka

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Benaki Islamic Art Museum

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Benaki Museum, Downtown Athens

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Beth Shalom Synagogue

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Byzantine and Christian Museum, Downtown

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Cave of Leontari, Mount Hymettus

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Cave Sanctuary of Pan

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Church of Agioi Anargyroi, Athens

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Church of Panagia Chrysokastriotissa, Athens

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Church of St. Catherine, Plaka

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Church of St. John the Theologian, Athens

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Commonwealth War Cemetery

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Elefsina (Eleusis)

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

First Cemetery of Athens

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art, Downtown

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Greek Agora in Plaka

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Hadrian’s Arch, Downtown Athens

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum, Acropolis

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Jewish Museum, Plaka

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Kerameikos, Athens

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Lysicrates Monument, Plaka area

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Marathon Archaeological Museum, Vranas

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Marathon Warriors’ Tomb, Marathonas

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Mineralogical Museum, Lavrion

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Monastiraki Metro Display

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Mosque of the Conquerors’ Victory, Plaka

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Mount Hymettus (Imittos)

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Mount Parnitha

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Municipal Market of Athens, Athinas Street

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Museum of Diachronic Art

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Museum of the Ancient Agora

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

National Archaeological Museum, Viktoria Metro

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

National Historical Museum, Downtown Athens

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

National Observatory

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Numismatic Museum

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Odeon of Herod Atticus, Acropolis

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Old House of Parliament

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Old National University of Athens

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Panathenaic stadium (Kalimarmaro)

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Philoppapou Monument Hill

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Pit of Asteriou Monastery

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Pit of Megalos Pyrgos, Mount Hymettus

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Pnyx hill

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Postal & Philatelic Museum

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Ramnous (Kato Souli, near Marathon coast)

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Roman Agora, Athens

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Roman Bath, Amalias Avenue

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Sounio National Park

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

St. Nicholas of the Poorhouse, Downtown Athens

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Syntagma Square, Central Athens

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Tactual Museum

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Technopolis, Gazi

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Temple of Hephaestus, Thisseo

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Temple of Olympian Zeus

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Temple of Poseidon, Sounion

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

The Museum at 22 Panos str., Plaka

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Tower of the winds/ Aerides, Plaka area

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Underground ruins, Kotzia Square

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Vravrona

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Vravrona, near Markopoulo/Porto Rafti

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More

Zappeion

Athens & Nearby Islands / Athens City
Find Out More