Interesting facts about the Acropolis of Athens

The Acropolis of Athens

The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a high rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance.

The name derives from the Greek Akro, high or extreme/extremity or edge, and Polis, city, translated as ‘High City‘, ‘City on the Edge‘ or ‘City in the Air‘, the most famous being the Acropolis of Athens, Greece.

The Acropolis is located on a flat-topped rock that rises 150 m (490 ft) above sea level in the city of Athens, with a surface area of about 3 hectares (7.4 acres).

In the mid-5th century B.C., the Athenians were persuaded by the statesman Pericles to rebuild the temples on the Acropolis on a grand scale, and it is during the second half of the 5th century B.C. that the most famous buildings on the Acropolis – the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Propylaea, and the temple of Athena Nike, were constructed.

The Parthenon is dedicated to the goddess Athena, goddess of wisdom, courage and warfare. A huge constructional undertaking by any standard Parthenon in every sense is the symbolic manifestation of the apical power of Athens. The grandiose temple was roughly completed in 438 BC.

the parthenon

While the Parthenon was the most impressive temple on the Acropolis, the Erechtheion was built to accommodate the religious rituals that the old temple housed. It derived its name from a shrine dedicated to the legendary Greek hero Erichthonius. The temple as seen today was built between 421 and 406 BC.

the erechtheum

The Propylaea serves as a majestic gateway to the Acropolis. It was designed by Mnesikles, replacing an earlier entrance, and was built mainly of Pentelic marble. Built from 437-432 BC, its construction was abandoned during the Peloponnesian War and never completed.

the propylaea

The Temple of Athena Nike is the smallest structure on the Athenian Acropolis, but holds no less importance than its neighboring shrines. Built to honor Athena Nike, the goddess of victory;Built around 420 BC, the temple is the earliest fully Ionic temple on the Acropolis.

the temple of athena nike

Artifacts have been discovered dating back to the Neolithic Era, providing evidence of the first inhabitants of the Acropolis of Athens location.

The Acropolis became a sacred place in the 6th century BC when a temple dedicated ‘Athenia Polias’ was built in the northeastern side of the hill.

The Athena Polias was destroyed in 490BC but another, larger, religious monument was built in its place known as the Older Parthenon.

The Older Parthenon or Pre‐Parthenon, as it is frequently referred to, constitutes the first endeavour to build a sanctuary for Athena Parthenos on the site of the present Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens.

In the 6th century, Venieri writes, Christians converted the Acropolis’ temples into churches.

In the 11th century, the Parthenon became a Christian cathedral.

In the Mycenaean Era, during the 13th century a well-built wall was constructed around the hill of Acropolis where the king resided and he controlled the small settlements around the fortress.

the acropolis of athens wall

The buildings of the Acropolis suffered significant damage during the 1687 siege by the Venetians in the Morean War.

In subsequent years, the Acropolis was a site of bustling human activity with many Byzantine, Frankish, and Ottoman structures. The dominant feature during the Ottoman period was a mosque inside the Parthenon, complete with a minaret.

The Acropolis of Athens was turned back over to the Greeks in 1822 during the Greek War of Independence.

Major restoration began in the early 1900s and continues to date.

acropolis restoration

An Englishman named Lord Elgin removed artifacts from the Parthenon, which are now on display at the British Museum of London. He claimed that the Turkish authorities gave him permission. The Greek government has demanded that the Parthenon Marbles also known as the Elgin Marbles be returned to them to be displayed at the New Acropolis Museum. It has not happened yet.

The Acropolis was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.

The Acropolis was formally proclaimed as the pre-eminent monument on the European Cultural Heritage list of monuments on 26 March 2007.