Why is the Parthenon so special, extraordinary and famous?

Why is the Parthenon so special

Why is the Parthenon so special? The Parthenon is so special for 3 main reasons:

  • what it symbolized
  • how it was built
  • the many fine works of Art

Why is the Parthenon so special?

What the Partheon symbolized

Why is the Parthenon so special? The Parthenon is so special because first of all is the symbol of Athens democracy. It was built after the victory on the Persians who occupied Athens in 480 BC. It was built to celebrate the victory and Athens political, economic and cultural superiority.

How it was built

The Parthenon is unique for its proportion and for the way it was built.

The Parthenon is the final result of a long course of development of the Doric order, which had began at least 250 years earlier. It is built from Pentelic marble. The precision with which the marble was worked is astonishing.

It comprises around 16500 pieces that are joined together other perfectly. Yet most impressive of all is the indiscernible deviation from a strict geometric form to create the famous optical refinements. This was made to have the desired effect.

The lines of the crepisis of the entablature curve slightly upwards rather than being straight. The shaft of the columns also have a slight convex curve which becomes narrower at 2/5 of their height.

The corner columns of each side are a little wider than all the others. All the columns have a small inclination toward the cella. These and other alterations from strict symmetry and uniformity serve to instill an additional pulse into the building.

As you can well understand it wasn’t easy to get the exact best result and effect desired. This is a demostration of the skill the Athenians had in maths and geometry.

Parthenon works of art

The Parthenon is unique for the richness and quality of its sculptures.

The Statue of Athena

The most precious statue in the Parthenon was the statue of Athena. The central part of the temple was divided in 2 sections: the eastern and the western.

The great gold and ivory statue of the goddess Athena was guarded in the eastern section. This magnificent work of art was made by the sculptor Pheidias and it was very big because it was about 13 metres tall. For all these reasons the statue of Athena was considered a masterpiece in antiquity. Unfortunately this statue is now lost.

The frieze

The frieze encircled the cella externally 12 metres above its base. It has a total length of 160 metres and around a metre high. It was made by 115 bas-relief blocks with sculpture depictions of people and animals in motion represented, in a continuos way, all along the frieze.

The faces of the figures resemble each other but they have a great variety in their poses, movements and clothing. They are serious and calm, showing character, spirituality and pride. The horses of the procession are all shown in profile. Some walk quietly, others gallop, and others fight with each other. The head mane and tail give to each horse distinct individuality.

The frieze was not only well graven but also well painted with rich colours that embellished the figures.

The statues in the pediments

Really noteworthy were the statues in the pediments. The pediments are the triangular areas formed by the sloping and horizontal cornices of the roof over the two narrow ends of the temple. The colossal sculpures of the Parthenon followed a specific theme. The east pediment depicts the birth of the goddess Athena and the west part depicts the conflict between Athena and Poseidon for the possesion of Attica.

These statues were carved with the same care in the front side and on the back even if nobody would see the back of the statue. This was important because they were made as offering to the gods and they had to be perfect.

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Monastiraki Athens: history, food and shopping

Monastiraki Athens: history, food and shopping 1

Monastiraki is one of the most characteristics areas in Athens. Athens is an European city but for more than one aspect it doesn’t look as all the other european cities. The first time you visit Monastiraki you may wonder if you are in the right country or maybe you are in north africa or in a medioriental city.

Ermou road is the main road in Monastiraki where you can also go by car. It gets you very confused: you can find very old and abandoned houses next to trendy and crowded restaurants.

Monastiraki Athens

Monastiraki square Athens

But this is only one side of Monastiraki. Going straight you arrive in Monastiraki square where you have a suggestive view of the acropolis. Furthermore the square demostrates that Athens is an european city but with a strong turky influence.

Monastiraki Athens: history, food and shopping 2

From this square you have a lot of opportunities: you can easily reach the best historical attractions on foot, you can get one of the touristic buses in order to go to the best Athens destinations and last but not least there is the station where you can get the train for the airport.

Monastiraki Athens: history, food and shopping 3

Exploring the area

If you decide to explore better the area from the square, you can go in the parallel streets of Erou road: Ifestou street and Adrianou street. These 2 streets are like 2 different worlds. Ifestou street is like a Turkish souk market, instead Adrianou street is very different. It’s full of very cute greek restaurants on one side and on the other side, after the train tracks, you have the old Athens Agorà ruins and a beautiful view of the acropolis.

Monastiraki Athens: history, food and shopping 4

To be more accurate we should say that Adrianou street was built on one part of the ancient agora of Athens. Infact the big part of the ancient Athens Agora is fenced and visitable as an historical site but an undiscovered area is still under the modern city.

This is evident by the new archeological site you see by the road, by the ruins you can see in the station and by the ruins you can see in the basements af some restaurants.

Monastiraki: food and relax

After a full day visiting museums and archeological sites Monastiraki is a restouring base point. Here you can feel the greek atmosfere, listen to typical music and maybe more importantly, to taste very good food.

Good news: greek food portions are very abundant for all the hungry ones!

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