Take a tour with us to all the astonishing monuments of the Acropolis

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Take a tour with us to all the astonishing monuments of the Acropolis.

Take a tour with us to all the astonishing monuments of the Acropolis.

PIKIONIS PAVEMENT: This unique and astonishing pedestrian area was created by the architect Dimitris Pikionis, perhaps the most important Greek architect of the 20th century. This pavement perfectly combines early postmodern with classical elements. This project was completed in the 1950’s. All the materials used came from Greece and were handcrafted by traditional stonemasons. The plants were chosen by Pikionis himself and were in complete harmony with the historical monument.  As you walk up the slopes of the Acropolis, you may observe the marvelous way in which Pikionis placed the rocks and how the latter point at several monuments through their corners, edges and straight lines.    

PROPYLAEA: Practically, it is a complex monumental gate that serves as the main entrance of the Acropolis. It was constructed of white marble from Penteli Mountain. It has a six-columned Doric facade while its hall is divided into three aisles by two rows of Ionic columns. The wings of Propylaea were decorated with known paintings, including those of the famous ancient painter Polygnotus. It is very possible that Propylaea were the first organized art gallery (Pinakotheke) of the Western world. What is left today from Propylaea is the work of the architect Mnesikles and was constructed in 437-432 BC.

TEMPLE OF ATHENA (WINGLESS) NIKE: This true masterpiece of the classical period was designed by the architect Kallikrates. It is located in the south west corner of the Sacred Rock. This temple was dedicated to Athena Nike and has a four column Ionic structure. The statue of Athena Nike is depicted without her wings. According to the myth, the statue was deprived of its wings so that the “Winged Victory” could never leave the city. This is how the temple became known as the Temple of Wingless Victory. 

ERECHTHEION: It is on the north side of the Acropolis and was built in honor of the legendary Athenian king Erechtheus. It is also a complex building and the entire temple is on a slope. It was built in 420 BC and Pentelic marble was used for its construction. It is viewed as an unparalleled example of mature Ionic order. The temple hosted the Palladion, a xoanon of Goddess Athena made by wild olive wood. The statue of Athena and her veil were the centerpiece of the Panathenaea festival and led the Panathenaic procession. On the south side of the Temple there is the famous Porch of the Maidens with six draped female figures (Caryatids) as supporting columns. Pay particular attention to the Caryatids’ elaborate hairstyles and you will understand how the architects of the 5th century solved the problem of mounting a heavy marble roof and providing static support on their necks, which would otherwise be the thinnest and structurally weakest part. Caryatids were either the work of the sculptor Alkamenes or, according to other sources, Kallimachos. The 5 original Caryatids are held at the Acropolis Museum in order to be protected from the atmospheric pollution. The sixth Caryatid and a column from the Erechtheion were stolen in the early 19th century by Lord Elgin and are now in the British Museum in London. The Caryatids were replaced on site by exact replicas.  Caryatids became an integral part of the Baroque architecture until the late 19th century and significantly influenced the mannerist movement in the 16th century. 

PARTHENON: There is no doubt that this is the most complete and brilliant monument of the Athenian Democracy which was built during Athens’ Golden Age. It was dedicated to Goddess Athena and was named Parthenon (Virgin) because she the myth wanted her to be a virgin. According to the Ancient Greeks, Athena, who was the Goddess of Wisdom, was pure because wisdom could not be gained by the simple people. For the construction of the Parthenon, Athenians used cedar from Lebanon, gold from Libya, ivory from Egypt and white washed Pentelic marble. The construction of Parthenon lasted 10 years (448 BC – 438 BC) and thousands of slaves as well as highly-paid experienced craftsmen were used. The Temple is Doric, marbled, and has reliefs in all of its metopes. The metopes of Parthenon’s depict the: Gigantomachy (east side), Trojan War (north side), Amazonomachy (west side) and Centauromachy (south side). Parthenon also had Ionic elements, the most known of which has been a frieze that depicts the Panathenaic procession. This was the first time when an actual (instead of a mythical) event was depicted in a Temple. This fact becomes even more important if we take into account that it depicted Athens’ most important festival. Parthenon’s pediments have sculptures depicting several events from the life of Goddess Athena. In the Temple’s sanctuary there was the famous Chryselephantine Statue of Athena. The Goddess stood holding a Nike (Victory) and offered it to the Athenians. The statue was created by Phidias. Unfortunately, it has not survived to our day and we only know about it from ancient descriptions. There is no doubt that advanced mathematics was used for the construction of the Parthenon. Columns deliberately contract near the top and have a slight bulge in their middle in order the Temple to look like a pyramid. These ingenious innovations, subtle refinements and deliberate bulges led to a stunning visual effect of an upward curvature, a temple ready to rise to the sky.

Acropolis (Circuit) Walls: The concrete circuit walls still impress the visitor.Following the destruction of Acropolis by the Persians (480 BC),the north fortification was built. Many of the architectural members that survived the destruction of Acropolis were incorporated in the north fortification, also known as the “Themostoclean Wall”. The south fortification was built during Kimon’s dominance in Athens politics and was called the “Kimonian Wall”. In the 3rd century AD, another wall was built.  Acropolis was used as a fortress until the 19th century. There is evidence that in the late Middle Ages (13th century AD) two more bastions were built. This first was west of Propylaea and the second on the northeast.

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