Saturday, May 18, 2013


During our stay in Athens, we spent a full day exploring the ruins of the Acropolis. Mind you, the Acropolis isn't just the Parthenon. Rather, it's an ancient citadel with a number of buildings, theaters  and temples. Though the hill has been inhabited since the 4000 BCE, it was only in 500 BCE that Pericles organized the construction of the Acropolis' most famous sites: the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike (the Temple of Athena Nike is the building completely covered in scaffolding).

At the base of the Acropolis is the Theater of Dionysis. This theater was built in the 5th and 4th century BCE and was dedicated to Dionysis, the Greek god of wine and patron god of the theater. The chairs/thrones you see were especially created for VIP theater patrons such as the head priest of Dionysus (I'm pretty sure I could follow that religion... honoring the god of wine) and important politicians.

Here you can see the theater from above.

There is another theater a bit higher up, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Unlike the Theater of Dionysis, which was used for plays, the Odeon was used as a music venue and had a seating capacity of 5000. Built in 161 ACE, it was commissioned by the wealthy Athenian Heordes Atticus in memory of his wife. Is it still an active music venue!

We then headed further up the hill and entered the Acropolis plateau through the Propylaea. A monumental gate, the Propylaea was built in the 430s BCE. In ancient times, the Propylaea served as a controlled entrance to the Acropolis. Those not deemed ritually clean were denied entrance. Luckily, we made it through.

Directly across from the Parthenon is my favorite building on the Acropolis: the Erechtheion. Built between 420 and 406 BCE, the temple was dedicated to the legendary Greek hero Erichthonius (a mythological early ruler of ancient Athens who was raised by the goddess Athena).

My favorite part of the Erechtheion is the Porch of the Maidens. These 6 pillars were actually built to conceal a giant 15-ft beam needed to support the southwest corner! Beautiful and functional.

And of course, we saw the Parthenon. Begun in 447 BCE, the Parthenon served as a temple to the goddess Athena, the patron deity of Athens. It has served many purposes: aside from being a temple, it was also used as a treasury; it was converted to a Christian church in the 5th century ACE and dedicated to the Virgin Mary; during the Ottoman occupation in the 1460s, it was converted into a mosque. As you can see, a part of the Western front is under construction (as my Dad said, "In the history of the Acropolis I bet there has always been scaffolding.").

The Eastern side, luckily, was uncovered.
From the top of the Acropolis hill, you can see the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Though most of the structure is gone, you can get a good sense of just how huge the temple must have been based on the massive size and height of the remaining columns.

Down the hill from the Parthenon is the Temple of Hephaestus. Begun in 449 BCE, this temple was dedicated to the god Hephaestus, the patron god of metal working and craftsmanship.

It makes sense that this temple was dedicated to Hephaestus, as there were numerous potters' workshops and metal-working shops in the vicinity of the temple. Like the Parthenon, this temple was eventually converted into a church. From the 7th century to 1834, it was the Greek Orthodox church of St. George Akamates.

No comments:

Post a Comment