While not much remains of the structures that were once there, the Pnyx is one of the most significant sites of Classical Greece for what it stands for.
Some four and five centuries before Christ, the area was an important place of assembly for free speech. In the golden age of Athens, the who’s who of Greek statesmen and orators such as Pericles, Aristides, Alcibiades and Demosthenes spoke here. The latter lashed out against King Philip of Macedon on this venerable rock, underlining its political significance during that era.
Today only some carved stones remain, but you can almost feel the powerful aura of the ancients and the reverberations of their words. The seating area or auditorium changed position over the years, and areas carved out of stone are still visible today. By the Roman period the Pnyx became a sanctuary of Zeus, complete with niches for votive plaques that were possibly related to a healing ritual. Evidence of two unfinished colonnaded porticoes – or stoas – remain on the site, among other unfinished elements dating from the fourth century BC.
Inscribed plaques from a temple dedicated to Zeus were unearthed here in 1803, revealing as well the temple’s floor, some steps and niches where statues of the god were placed. Between the natural surroundings and the ancient vibe of this place, you will be tempted to imagine a glorious past where democratic monologues emerged at their very best.