Aeropagus Athens Greece. The Aeropagus is associated with the spread of Christianity into Greece. The Apostle Paul converted several Athenians, giving a talk from the top of the Aeropagus. Watch the video!
Origins of Areopagus
The Areopagus is a rocky outcrop of approximately 115 m. high. It is between three other hills, the Acropolis, the Pnyx, and the Kolonos Agoraios. Its name probably derives from Ares, the god of war, and the Ares-Erinyes or Semnes (also called the Eumenides), underground goddesses of punishment and revenge. A judicial body, the Areopagus Council, met on this hill to preside over cases of murder, sacrilege, and arson. The Areopagus was also a place of religious worship.
Here there were several sanctuaries. One of them, the Semnes or Eumenides, is probably located in a cavity at the northeast side of the hill. In the Mycenaean and Geometric periods (1600-700 B.C.), the hill’s northern slope served as a cemetery that contained both vaulted tombs and simple cist graves.
From the 6th century B.C. onwards, the hillside became a residential quarter belonging to the fashionable district of Melite. Cuttings still evident in the bedrock attest to the district’s many roads, wells, drains, reservoirs, ﬂoors, and irregular buildings.
Stairways provided access to this neighborhood cut right into the living rock. Then in the Late Roman period (4th-6th centuries A.C.) four luxury houses, which probably served as philosophical schools – located at the north slope of the hill – had supplanted the houses of the Classical era.
The Areopagus is also associated with the spread of Christianity in Greece. Some time near the middle of the 1st century AD, the Apostle Paul is said to have converted several Athenians by teaching the new religion’s tenets from the hill’s summit.
Among the converts was Dionysius the Areopagite, the patron saint of the city at Athens, who, according to tradition, was the city’s first bishop. There are remains of a church named in his honor, preserved on the hill’s northern slope.
The church of St. Dionysius
The church of St. Dionysius the Areopagite was a three-aisled basilica with a narthex at the west, central apse, diakonikon (the apse terminating the southern aisle) and prosthesis (the apse terminating the northern aisle). It was built in the middle of the 16th century. However, an earthquake destroyed it in 1601.
The monumental Archibishop’s Palace completely enclosed the church and grounds to the north and west. This two-storey Palace was built between the middle of the 16th and end of the 17th century. It consisted of a complex of rooms that included warehouses, a kitchen, a dining hall, and two wine presses.
How to visit the Areopagus
The visit to the Areopagus is free, and it is always open. Even though it’s now only a hill of rocks, it’s interesting for its history and offers a beautiful view of the Acropolis of Athens.