Who destroyed the Parthenon? Who sadly bombed it?

Who destroyed the Parthenon

Who destroyed the Parthenon? – When you visit the Parthenon for the first time you may feel disappointed because it doesn’t be well preserved. This is especially true if you don’t know all the things that has happend to the Parthenon.

The temple has endured many vicissitudes. Not only the time has ruined the Parthenon but also some people, in the course of history, did their part in taking off works of art from the Parthenon. Furthermore it was also bombed! Who destroyed the Parthenon? Who bombed it?

Who destroyed the Parthenon?

The First destruction: the fire

The first major destruction occured in 267 AD due to arson. In the late 3rd or late 4th cent A.D., the interior of the temple was destroyed by fire either by Germanic tribe of the Heruli (267 A.D.) or by Alaric’s Visigoths (396 A.D.)

The early Christian period

During the early Christian period (6th cent A.D.), the new perceptions on art led the destruction of many works of art around Greece. This included many of Parthenon’s sculptures.

The Parthenon became the church of the Holy Virgin of Athens, the largest in the city. During the construction of the Christian apse at the east porch, the central scene of the east pediment with the birth of Athena was lost. After 1205, it felt into hands of the Franks of the 4th Crusade, becoming a church of the Latin faith.

The Parthenon becomes a Minaret

When Athens was surrendered to the Ottoman Turks in 1458, the temple became a mosque with a minaret.

In 1687, during the siege of the Acropolis by the troops of Venetian general Francesco Morosini a cannoball made a direct hit in the interior of the temple, which the Turks used as powder magazine. The terrible explosion blew up the roof and destroyed the long sides of the temple as well as parts of its sculptures.

1456 The Ottomans conquer Athens. The site of the Acropolis is used for habitation while the Parthenon is converted in a mosque.

Who bombed it?

Who destroyed the Parthenon? In 1687, during the siege of the Acropolis by the troops of Venetian general Francesco Morosini a cannoball made a direct hit in the interior of the temple, which the Turks used as powder magazine. The terrible explosion blew up the roof ond destroyed the long sides of the temple as well as parts of its sculptures.

1687 The Venetians siege the Acropolis which is under Turkish occupation. An artillery shell hits the Parthenon, which is being used by the Turks as a powder magazine and ignites a colossal explosion. The monument shakes and is widely damaged. The east frieze collapses.

1688 Francesco Morosini, the commanding Admiral of the Venetians, tries to remove the horses and Poseidon statues from the west pediment to transport them to Venice. The operation is unsuccessful, the statues fall dawn to the ground and shatter.

Who destroyed the Parthenon Who bombed the Parthenon

Who destroyed the Parthenon? Elgin

Who destroyed the Parthenon? The most severe damage to the monument was caused in 1801-1802, when the Scotch ambassador of England to Constantinople Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, removed the gretest part of the sculptures that also compromised structural members of the temple.

By bribing the Turkish garrison of the Acropolis and employng teams of the Italian artist G.B. Lusieri, Elgin removed and transported to England 19 pedimental sculptures, 15 metopes and the reliefs of 56 sawn blocks of the frieze, today exhibited in the British Museum in London.

1799 Thomas Bruce, 7th Lord of Elgin, is appointed Ambassador of His Brittanic Majesty in Constantinople in order to reinforce the relationships between the Ottoman Empire and Britain.

1800 Elgin organize a mission to Athens in order to, as it was officially stated, study, sketch and make casts of the sculptures of the Parthenon. The group includes architects, moulders and the painter Feodor Ivanovitch. The court’s painter Don Giovanni Battista Luisieri is chosen to led the mission.

Elgin’s fervent desire to obtain the original scupltures emerges very soon and results in the uncontrollable plundering of the Acropolis. Using his political influence and by generously bribing the officils he secures the authorities concession. The removal and transportation of the inscriptions, sculptures and architectural members from the Acropolis begins in July of 1801 and last 4 years.

1802 September. Block V of the eastern frieze, which lays on the ground is sawed off to diminish weight from approximately becomes less than during the transportation it breakes in two pieces.

1802 September 16th The block is packed and loaded on the brig Mentor. During the voyage the ship is hit by a storm and sinks.

1804 – 1805 The cargo’s retrieval is completed. The artifacts from the shipwreck are loaded onboard ship and continue their jouney to England. Block V arrived in London throught Malta.

1801, July 31st. Elgin begins to detach the metopes of the southern side of the Pathenon. Metope 27 is the first one to be removed. The procedure is depicted ans documented by the English painter E. Dodwell, an Eye witness.

“I saw several metopae at the south-east extremity of the temple taken down. They were fixed in between the triglyphs as in a groove; and in order to lift the up it was necessary to throw to the ground the magnificent cornice by which they were covered.”

After its removal from the Parthenon the metope ends up in England in 1802.

1962 The British Museum opens a new room the Duveen Gallery, which houses the sculptures from the Parthenon.

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The Lion Gate Mycenae: 1 Extraordinary Ruin of Ancient Greece

The Lion Gate Mycenae Ancient Greece

The Lion Gate Mycenae – Not far from the Treasury of Atreus or Agamemnon’s Tomb we find the ancient city of Mycenae. The entrance to the city was guaranteed by a very particular door: The Lion Gate Mycenae.

The fortification wall of the Mycenaean acropolis follows the natural contour of the ground and is founded directly on the outcropping bedrock. It is in the shape of a triangle and covers an area of 30,000 sq. m. with a total length of 900 m. It was built in three construction phases.

The oldest fortification, which dates to 1350 BC, contained the highest part of the hill. For the construction of these walls were used boulders of hard limestone bedrock.

The Lion Gate Mycenae Ancient Greece (2)

The Lion Gate Mycenae: Video

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The Lion Gate Mycenae: description

The Lion Gate Mycenae is characterized by a central slab supported by two lateral ones. Rectangular stone rocks are placed one above the other except for the suspended central slab. A pure aesthetic factor?

The heavy stone rocks were not placed on the central slab in order not to weigh it down. There was in fact the risk that otherwise it could be broken. For this reason it was left empty. In order not to leave it completely empty and to complete the work, a decorative plate was placed.

Why is it called Lion Gate?

The Lion Gate Mycenae takes its name from the decorative plate placed on the top of the door. It is called the Lion Gate but it would be more correct to call it the lionesses Gate. The lions on the slab lack the characteristic mane of the lions.

The decorative slab is now partially ruined by time but the 2 lionesses must have originally had their heads turned towards those who entered.

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The Remarkable Epidaurus Theater

The Remarkable Epidaurus Theater (3)

For many peoples the main reason to visit the Archaeological Site of the Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus is the Epidaurus Theater.

The Epidaurus Theater is in fact the best preserved monument in the Sanctuary of Asklepios.

The Remarkable Epidaurus Theater

Let’s see a few information about the Epidaurus Theater!

How old is the Epidaurus Theater?

The Epidaurus Theater was erected at the end of the 4th century B.C.

Who built the theater of Epidaurus?

According to the ancient traveler Pausanias (2nd century A.D.), it was the work of the architect Polykleitos, who built also the Tholos in the same Sanctuary.

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How many people could the original Theatre of Epidaurus seat?

The auditorium of the Theatre the koilon or cavea, consists of two unequal parts, which are divided by a horizontal walkway, known as the diazoma. The lower part is divided by 13 radiating staircases into 12 wedge-shaped segments, the kerkides or cunei, with 34 rows of seats each. At the upper part of the cavea 23 radiating passages divide it into 22 wedge-shaped segments with 20 rows of seats.

To each segment of the lower part correspond two segments of the upper part. The seats of the lowest row were provided with backrests and used as “prohedriae” (front seats of honour); similarly shaped were the seats of the upper part’s first row. Uphill pathways outside the Theatre led on both sides to the horizontal passage which divided the upper from the lower part of the cavea.

It is estimated that the Epidaurus Theater could accommodate 12,000 spectators.

What is remarkable about the theater at Epidaurus?

Epidaurus Theater is a characteristic example of the tripartite structure of Hellenic theatres (orchestra – cavea – stage building). Its original form remained intact in Roman times, during which most Greek theatres underwent major changes. The floor of the circular orchestra (diameter 20 m) is beaten earth. It is outlined in stone,while at its centre a circular base of an altar, the thymele, is preserved. The orchestra is surrounded by a walkway in lower level, which served additionally as a drain for rainwater.

The scene (stage building) in front of the orchestra and the cavea served the needs of the actors and had a parallel use as storage room of theatrical equipment.

The scene building was composed of

  1. a rectangular oblong hall with two smaller square rooms on each side,
  2. a proscenium (stage), on whose facade were fixed panels representing the setting of each play,
  3. two ramps, one on each side, which provided access to the roof of the proscenium for the actors, and
  4. an upper storey of the scene building, of which no evidence has been preserved.

Scholars estimate that the total height of the stage building was 7.60 m. Spectators entered the Epidaurus Theater through two impressive gate situated on both sides of the stage building, between it an the lower part of the retaining wall of the cavea. The seats of the cavea were made out of local grey at reddish hard limestone while for the stage building a yellow soft limestone was used.

The cavea was constructed at the end of the 4th century B.C. while the stage building was modified during the 2nd century B.C. A characteristic feature of the Theatre was (and still is) its excellent acoustics. It had largely to do with its design. The creation of the circular shape of the cavea was based on three centres. The eight central cunei corresponded to a circumference which had as centre the centre of the orchestra.

The two lateral cunei were designed with different centres, which lay further away from the centre of the orchestra providing thus a larger radius and consequently a larger circle. This”opening” on the edges of the cavea,beside its contribution to acoustics, allowed a better view to those sitting in the lateral cunei.

What was the Theatre of Epidaurus used for?

The Theatre of the Sanctuary was closely connected to the cult of Asklepios.

During the festivals held in honour of the god athletic games, but also musical and dramatic contests took place. The latter were surely housed in the Theatre, where most probably also deep-rooted ceremonies closer connected with the cult took place.

Why is the Theatre at Epidaurus still famous?

Today theatrical plays are again performed in the Epidaurus Theater during the summer (Epidauros festival). The Theatre was excavated in 1881 by P. Kavvadias, who then carried out partial restorations. Restoration works by An. Orlandos took place in the monument in the years 1954-1963.

He proceeded then to a reconstruction of the proscenium, which was later removed.The Committee for the Conservation of the Epidauros Monuments restored the western parodos gate, the last upper western cuneus (1988-1999) and the ancient drains (1992-2007). A third program includes restoration works in the cavea and the stage building.

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Ancient Corinth: exciting day trips from Athens

ancient corinth greece

Ancient Corinth is a very good day trip from Athens. From Athens it takes about 1 hour and 15 minuted by car. Ancient Corinth is worthy of a visit for several reasons.

Firstly it’s very interesting in trying to understand the life in the this rich city. It was a very multicultural city because of the Corinth Canal. It’s true it wasn’t navigable till the end of the 1800 so ships had to be transported to the other side and they prefered this option rather than navigate all around the Peloponnese Region. You can see how the Corinth Canal is now, watching the video below:

Ancient Corinth is also linked with the Apostle Paul who lived and preached in the city for several time.

In order to enjoy more the visit we examine a few information about the Ancient Corinth.

What are the characteristics of the Ancient Corinth? What was life like there? You’ll discover it while reading this post.

Outside the walls of Ancient Corinth

Ancient Corinth covered a range of 900 km2 because there wasn’t only the main city but also many smaller settlements.

Already from the 8th c. B.C., it was a rich and a powerful city-state especially due to two ports:

  1. At Lechaion in the Corinthian Gulf
  2. At Kenchreai from the side of the Saronic Gulf

Ancient Corinth and its reign

East

The eastern region of Corinthia was relatively underpopulated. The most important settlement of the region must have been Solygeia, close to the modern village Galataki.

North

The most northern settlement of Corinthia was Krommyon, close to the modern village Ayoio Theodoroi. According to myth, this is where Theseus killed the dangerous sow, Phaia.

Corinthian Identity

Corinth consisted of dozens of settlements, small and large. But what did their residents have in common?

These people drew their common descent from the Dorians. And of course, they shared a common language and alphabet.

Ancient Corinth was built at the foot of the Acrocorinth, a majestic hill, dominating the landscape.

The home’s life in Ancient Corinth

In ancient Greece private buildings were usually humble structures unlike many public magnificent constructions.

Households were run by women. They were responsible for raising their children and supervising the slaves, who were given the heaviest duties in the house.

Men were usually absent. mainly occupied with political and professional engagements.

Visiting the Ancient Corinth you easily understand how the women’s habits were very similar to ours. In the museum you can see face care sets, such as profumes and cosmetics, hair accessories and eyebrow tweezers.

Gods Venerating And Heroes

The Corinthians worshiped Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, Demeter, Kore, Hera and Poseidon. Hero cult was a distinctive aspect of ancient Greek religious life. 

Heroes, men who had showed remarkable activity during their lifetime, were honored after their death with rituals performed at their tombs or at an open-air sanctuary. Heroes’ sanctuaries were built along side roads or over older graves.

A temple dedicated to Apollo

The Temple of Apollo is the archaeological site biggest monument. The temple was built in the 6th c. B.C., when Corinth was at its zenith, on the site of an earlier temple. It was constructed from the local poros limestone.

The temple is in Doric order and originally had six columns at each end and fifteen along each side. Notable characteristics of its archaic date include the great length of the temple relative to its width, the large monolithic columns, and the squat, widely flaring capitals. Although most of this mid-6th century B.C. building has been destroyed, the bedrock preserves cut-tings made to receive the foundation blocks and thus allows a reconstruction of the temple’s plan.

temple dedicated to Apollo ancient corinth

The main part of the temple (sekos) was split into two non-communicating rooms. The roof was decorated with colorful architectural elements.

The interior of the temple consists of a porch at either end and a long central part (the cella) divided into two rooms by a cross wall. The traditional reconstruction of the plan makes this cross wall a solid wall and provides access to the western room of the cella through the western door.

The seven standing columns of the Archaic temple are one of the most prominent landmarks of Corinth.

The Acrocorinth: The sanctuary of Demeter and Kore

Demeter and her daughter, Kore or Persephone, were worshiped in a large sanctuary on the northern slope of the Acrocorinth. 

In the 4th c. B.C., a small theater was carved into the rock. Three small temples were also built in the Roman Period.

Odeum & theater of Ancient Corinth

The theater was a place in which dramatic and musical events were staged. In the roman period staged fighting was added.

The theater has several phases. The original structure was built late in the 5th c. B.C. and had permanent seats but only a wooden stage building.

This was supplemented with a new orchestra and stage structure in the Hellenistic period. 

In later antiquity theatrical tastes changed and the orchestra was converted into a gladiatorial arena.

Ancient Corinth and Cristianity

Ancient Corinth is also important because is linked with apostle Paul’s or Apostle of the Nations. Paul lived and preached in Corinth. When you visit the ancient Corinth you can also see the famous Bema.

ancient Corinth

This was likely the tribunal were Paul was brought for judgment before the proconsul Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus. He was accused of illegal proselitism and they brought him in the tribunal or bèma.

Because of its position the bema was used to speak to the crowd. Not only the Ancient Corinth has a bema. In the ancient greek cities it was in fact common to meet in front to a Bema.

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Treasury of Atreus: the Legendary Tomb of Agamemnon

Treasury of Atreus the Legendary Tomb of Agamemnon

Greece Mycenae. Treasury of Atreus: the Legendary Tomb of Agamemnon. The Tholos or ‘Beehive’ tomb dubbed the ‘Treasury of Atreus’ or the Tomb of Agamemnon is one of the most splendid monuments of Mycenaen architecture.

Let’s see something about it so you can appreciate more your visit.

Description

This tomb is incredibly large and what makes it amazing is how it was made. It has been preserved down to our days, in fact it is just as it was originally made. Some details could go unnoticed but with a more detailed examination we understand the purpose.

This applies for example to the empty triangle above the entrance door. This triangle was used in case of earthquakes to keep the structure intact.

Another extraordinary detail that strikes our imagination is the stone block always placed above the entrance. This is in fact a single huge and very heavy block placed at a considerable height. One wonders how they got it. Maybe with rollers? In any case, it must not have been easy.

We understand the size of the Treasury of Atreus by comparing the size of the door with a person placed at the entrance. In this comparison, the person is tiny.
Just think that when you go outside on top of the monument it seems to go up a hill. This becomes an observation point for the surrounding landscape.

Treasury of Atreus

The Treasury of Atreus was built between 1350 and 1250 BC, it consists of a domos or passage, stomion or entrance, tholos or vaulted chamber and a smaller side chamber.

Distinctive features of its construction are the use of megalithic elements in the entrance such as jambs and lintel and its carefully coated masonry.

The monumental facade was decorated with a variety of materials. Parts of the sculpted decorations are today in the British Museum in London and in the National Archeological Museum in Athens.

The tomb was found robbed, like all the tholos tombs, and there is no information on either the grave goods or the burials it once housed. It was never buried by earth and remained always visible, attracting the attention of ancient and later travellers.

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Treasury of Atreus the Legendary Tomb of Agamemnon inside

Mycenae

The Treasury of Atreus is located very close to the archaeological site of the ruins of Mycenae. The visit to the Treasury of Atreus does not take long. Therefore it is easy to visit on the same day both the Treasury of Atreus and the ruins of ancient Mycenae with its attached museum.

In addition, the ticket you buy at the Treasury of Atreus is also valid for Mycenae. So don’t make the mistake of buying the same ticket twice!

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Athens Acropolis: 4 Authentic Ancient Greek Temples

Authentic Ancient Greek Acropolis

Athens Acropolis – Are you going to visit the Acropolis of Athens? The Acropolis of Athens is very famous for its Authentic Ancient Greek Temples.

In order to appreciate more your visit it’s useful to read this post to have more information about the ancient Greek Temples in the Acropolis.

The Erechtheion: ancient Greek Temple of the Ionic order

The Erechtheion is one of the most famous Ancient Greek Temples in the Athens Acropolis because of the Caryatids. It is one of the ancient Greek temples of the Ionic order. Its name comes from the name of Erechtheus, the mythical king of Athens.

The construction probably started before the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War (431 B.C) or after the conclusion of the “peace of Nicias” (421 B C. and was finished in 406 B C.).

Authentic Ancient Greek Temples in Athens Acropolis Erechtheion

The Erechtheion consists of two sections divided by an interior wall. The eastern section was 3 m higher than the western. It was dedicated to Athena and housed the Xoanon, the ancient wooden cult statue of the goddess. 

The western section was also divided into three parts dedicated to the cult of Poseidon, Hephaestus and the hero Butes.

Authentic Ancient Greek Temples in Athens Acropolis Erechtheion

At the south side there is the Porch of the Maidens. The roof of the porch is supported by six statues of young women. At the north side there is instead a porch with 6 Ionic columns.

Today the figures of white marble, that were attached on the decoration of the upper part of the building are preserved in the Acropolis Museum.

Also the original Caryatids are preserved in the Acropolis Museum. Infact the ones in the temple are only copies.

Authentic Ancient Greek Temples in Athens Acropolis Caryatids

The Temple of Athena Nike: a small Greek Temple

The Temple of Athena Nike is a small ancient greek temple on the Acropolis of Athens. It was dedicated to Athena Nike, the goddess of war and protectress of the city. It was built in the classical era, around 420 B.C. 

The classical temple was built over an earlier small temple, which housed the Xoanon. 

Authentic Ancient Greek Temples in Athens Atena nike

The architect Kallikrates built the classical temple in the Ionic order, with four columns at the front and as well as the rear. It’s made with the native Pentelic marble.

In the temple rich sculptural decoration praises the victorious battles of the Athenians.

Gold-plated bronze Nike decorated the corners of the gables. The Ionic frieze, which runs along the upper part of the temple depicts Greek wars and on the east side the assembly of the Olympian gods. 

The Old Temple of Athena

The Old Temple of Athena on the Athens Acropolis was an Archaic temple situated to the south of the Erechtheion.

Today only the foundations are still visible. This ancient Greek temple was built in 525-500 BC. It was destroyed in 480 BC, during the Persian invasion. Many of its parts are now incorporated in the wall of the Acropolis. 

It was dedicated to Athena Polias and it housed the xoanon, as well as the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. The western section was divided into three parts. It was possibly dedicated to the cult of Poseidon, Hephaestus and the hero Boutes.

The Old Temple of Athena is a Doric peripteral building. It has 6 columns at the front, as well as at the rear, and 12 at the sides. It was built of poros, while marble was used for some upper parts, such as the metopes, pedimental sculptures and tiles. 

One pediment was adorned with a sculpted group illustrating the Gigantomachy, while other featured a partially preserved group of lions devouring a bull.

The altar located to the east of the temple is no longer preserved.

The Parthenon

Last but not least on the Athens Acropolis there is the famous Parthenon. There is a lot to say about this temple. If you want to know more about this Ancient Greek Temple visit the following page: Why is the Parthenon so special? Why is it famous?

View from Athens Acropolis

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Areopagus Athens: famous for apostle Paul talk

Areopagus Athens triplare

Aeropagus Athens Greece. The Aeropagus is associates with the spread of Christianity into Greece. The Apostle Paul converted a number of Athenians giving a talk from the top of the Aeropagus. Watch the video!

Origins of Areopagus

The Areopagus is a rocky outcrop 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, probably located in a cavity at the northeast side of the hill. In the Mycenaean and Geometric periods (1600-700 B.C.) the northern slope of the hill served as a cemetery which 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.

Access to this neighbourhood was provided by stairways 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.

Christianity

The Areopagus is also associated with the spread of Christianity into Greece. Some time near the middle at the 1st century AD, the Apostle Paul is said to have converted a number Athenians by teaching the tenets of the new religion from the summit of the hill.

Areopagus pauls talk

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 northern slope of the hill.

The church of St. Dionysius

The church of St. Dionysius the Areopagite was a three-aisled basilica with a narthex at 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 earthquacke destroyed it in 1601.

The monumental Archibishop’s Palace comletely 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 was consisted of a complex of rooms which-included warehouses, a kitchen, a dining hall, and also two wine presses.

How to visit the Areopagus

The visit to the Areopagus is free and it is always opened. Despite it’s now only a hill of rocks it’s intersting for his history and it offers a beautiful view of the Acropolis of Athens.

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Is the Parthenon open to the public? How much is it?

Is the Parthenon open to the public

Yes, it is. You can visit the Parthenon when you visit the Acropolis.

How much does it cost to visit the Parthenon in Greece?

When you by the ticket you pay not only for the Parthenon but for all the Acropolis. The entrance ticket is 20 euros but during the winter season between the 1st November and 31th March the ticket is reduced to 10 euros.

You can also buy a combined ticket for 30 Euros that includes:

  • the Acropolis and its Slopes
  • the Ancient Agora
  • The Roman Agora
  • Hadrians’s library
  • Olympieion
  • Kerameikos
  • Aristotele’s Lykeion

The combined ticket is valid for 5 days.

Is the Parthenon open to the public? How much is it? 1

Can you go inside the Parthenon?

No, you can’t go inside the Parthenon. The Parthenon area is surrounded by a division that doesn’t let you enter inside. Anyway you can walk all around the temple.

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Who was the Parthenon built for? Who built it and why?

visit the partheon athens

Who was the Parthenon built for?

The Parthenon is a temple of the Doric order and was dedicated to Athena Parthenos.

Who built it and why?

The ancient fortifications, buildings and statues on the Acropolis were destroyed during the Persian occupation of 480 BC. After that period the acropolis ceases to be a fortress.

After the Victory of Marathon in 490 BC, Pericles wanted to celebrate the victory over the Persians and the political, economic and cultural primacy of Athens. For this reason the reconstruction of the Acropolis began and the city began to build on the Acropolis a temple for Athena: the Parthenon itself.

The Parthenon is the most important building of the programme of Perikles for the re-establisment of the Acropolis sanctuary.

The architects of the temple were Iktinos and Kallikrates. The renowned sculptor Pheidas collaborated with other sculptors to design and execute the big sculptural work of the decoration of the temple. He created also the 13 metres tall statue of Athena made by gold and ivory which stood inside the temple. The Parthenon was built in 447-438 B.C. and its sculptural compositions were completed in 432 B.C.

The Parthenon is the temple that Perikles wanted to erect on the Acropolis as a symbol of the victory of the greek union. It was the symbol of the passage from the old religious traditions of the individual communities to what we could call the religious ideology of united Greece.

The construction of a monument of unprecedented splendor was a way to affirm the ideological and political supremacy of Athens.

The Parthenon is a lasting symbol of ancient Greece and Athenian democracy, and certainly represents one of the largest cultural monuments in the world.

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Why is the Parthenon important, special and famous?

Why is the Parthenon important, special and famous?

Why is the Parthenon important, special and famous? The Parthenon is so special for 3 main reasons:

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

What the Partheon symbolized

Why is the Parthenon important, special and famous? 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.

Why is the Parthenon important, special and famous?
Why is the Parthenon important, special and famous?

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.

Is the Parthenon open to the public
Why is the Parthenon important, special and famous?

Parthenon works of art

Why is the Parthenon important, special and famous? 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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