" THE CITY OF THE GODDESS ATHENA"
Athens capital of Greece is a place of great cultural interest,
as well as a vivid and modern city. The harmonious and perfectly
balanced fitting between the old and the new age makes this city
unique. Both sides of Athens are extremely appealing to tourists.
There are many interesting museums to visit and various cultural
activities to attend , that cater for all tastes. Travelers attracted
to Athens by an interest in the history of the ancient world's cultural
capital have many choices to make.
Athens Guide More...
of the words Akron
(edge, summit) and
Polis (city), means
"the highest point of a city", is certainly the focal point of any
visit and every archaeological tour undoubtedly starts with the
Parthenon , the temple
that symbolizes Greek architecture and represents the very core
of Greek civilization. Built
in 448-438 B.C. from a
design by Phidias,
Callicrates, the temple
is a classic example of the Doric order, with a colonnade of eight
columns at each end. Its structural and decorative elements were
based on complex mathematical calculations, successfully expressing
in architecture the harmony of proportions already experimented
with and codified by Polyclitus
in his sculpture. The underlying principles are probably to be found
in the philosophical debates of the
Anaxagoras regarding universal
of the Virgins the
proper - on the west. In the
a double row of Doric columns framed the cult statue
of Athena Parthenos
on three sides. This colossal chryselephantine masterpiece
stood around 12m (40 ft) high.The
effects of perspective, the play of light and shadow
dimensions, the relationship between solids and voids
and so on, tend to produce a slightly deformed picture
of reality to the human eye. And so
some astounding "optical corrections". For instance,
an upward curvature - by as much as 6 cm (just over
2 in) -of the stylobate, and the almost gradual convexity
of fhe columns which-especially at the corners.
today's visitors, too, the traditional heaviness of
the Doric order is transformed by the austere elegance
and harmony of forms and proportions, while the white
Pentelic marble enhances the in play of light and shadow
on the temple's majestic structures. The decorative
features of the Parthenon, completed in 432 B.C. flourished
in political , civic and religious significance. The
sculptures were entirely designed and perhaps also executed
by Phidias, assisted by some of Attica's finest emerging
artistic talents. Works that survived the fury of Christian
fundamentalists after the Edict of Theodosius II (of
The Venetians under leader
Mourozini besieged the
Acropolis. The disaster happened on
26 of September in
1687 when a cannon ball
hit the Parthenon.
Due to the ammunition stored there by the Turks the cannon
ball exploded and the Parthenon
was destroyed. Many
years later the English Ambassador in Constantinople received
permission from the Turkish authorities to remove sculptures from
the metopes of the temple. Neither
invasions, fires explosions nor the ravages of Britain's
Lord Elgin have destroyed
the majesty of the Parthenon, now undergoing
Mnesicles (437-433 B.C.),
forms the architectural threshold between the city and its sanctuary,
and provides a glorious entrance to the Acropolis. The structure
was combined with the famous Picture Gallery, where paintings by
the greatest masters of the time were kept.
The Ionic temple of
Apteros Nike stood at the side of the Propylaea on the southwest
bastion, which had been faced in Pentelic marble in previous decades.
It was built between 430 and 410 B.C. with frequent interruptions
caused by war, to a plan of thirty years earlier by
Callicrates and then used
for a temple of Demeter
and Kore on the banks
of the Ilissus river. Beautifully harmonious in its proportions
and built of Pentelic marble, the temple was enhanced by slender
Ionic columns only at the front and rear, surmounted by a running
frieze with scenes of the war between Greeks and Trojans.
One interesting aspect is the change in the building's political
message, designed in 460-450 B.C. to celebrate Athenian victory
over the Persians, the temple was actually built much later, during
the Peloponnesian War and so it became essentially a tribute to
Athenian successes over their new enemy - the Spartans.
The elegant small temple of Apteros Nike (
Wingless Victory ), stands on the SW bastion of the Propylaea. The
goddess whose wings were cut off so she could never leave the city
|The last addition
to the Acropolis before the end of the 5th century BC.
was the new temple of
known throughout history as the Erechtheum, after the
Attic name for Poseidon (the old patron of the city).
It was built north of the Parthenon, between 421 and
405 B.C, to a plan by Philocles or according to some
Callicrates or Mnesicles. The Ionic portico with six
columns on the east gives access to the cella, where
the ancient wooden cult icon of Athena Polias was devotedly
kept. On the west side, on different levels, were spaces
for the cults of Poseidon Erechtheum, Hephaestus, the
hero Butte and the serpent - boy Erichthonius, particularly
dear to Athena.
seen here from southwest was the last building erected
on the Acropolis before the end of 5th century BC. It
replayed an ancient temple of Athena Polias, which was
destroyed during the Persian Wars. The famous
porch with the Caryatids marked the legendary tomb of
Cecrops. The six beautiful statues of young women wearing
Ionic costumes are perhaps the work of one of the best
disciples of Phidias, Alcamenes. Outside the building
on the west side grew the sacred olive tree traditionally
believed to be the gift of Athena in her dispute with
Poseidon. On the north side a high Ionic portico protected
the mark left by the trident thrown by Poseidon to make
a sea -water spring gush from the rock.
The Agora, with
the nearby hill of the Areopagus, is Athens other main
area of archaeological interest. Originally an open
space crossed by the Panathenaic Way, the Agora was
quickly flanked by large numbers of public buildings
and adorned with temples and altars, stoas and fountains.
It acquired its final form in the 2nd c. AD. Its most
prominent structures today are the modern reconstruction
of the Stoa built by Attalos II of Pergamum in the 2nd
century B.C. now housing the Agora Museum and the Doric
Temple of Hephaestus (Theseion), still miraculously
intact. Built in Pentelic marble in the same period
as the Parthenon, the temple is still an important landmark
in the lower part of Athens. It is about 32m (105 ft)
long and 14m (46 ft) wide, with 6 columns at the ends
and 13 at the sides. Its plans appears conventional
Doric, but its cella resembles the larger one in the
The Agora, which extends
over the north-west slopes of Acropolis, was the heart of ancient
Athens from the late 6th c. BC onwards. It was a place for political
gatherings and debate, for elections, religious occasions and trading
activities, theatrical performances and athletic competitions. The
word “Agora” drives from the word “ageiro” meaning “I gather”. In
the beginning somebody spoke in an open space and people gathered
around. He came back and they came back to listen. Another orator
took his place and people went on gathering around the speakers.
Peddlers came with their goods, and gradually shops were built around
this open space, and the orator’s stand finds its permanent place.
The Agora – market place – is born.
THE PANATHENAIC GAMES
The Panathenaic festival was the most splendid event in the ancient
city of Athens. It was a very ancient celebration in which were
amalgamated rituals from a variety of religious ceremonies honoring
Athena, the patron goddess of the city. From the time of their reorganization
in the middle of the 6th c. BG. two different versions of the Panathenaic
festival were held: the Lesser Panathenaia, which took place every
year I and the Great Panathenaia, which were organized every four
years. For the ancient Athenians. this religious festival was an
opportunity to show their pride in the political and intellectual
superiority of their city. It was an event with a strongly political
character that was evident in the various religious and recreational
activities. The festival of the Great Panathenaia was illustrated
in an unprecedented manner in the frieze of the Parthenon a monument
that was the symbol of the Athenian democracy. In the sculptural
composition on this frieze, Pheidias and his colleagues immortalized
the events and ideology of the Panthenaic festival, making it accessible
and comprehensible to later generations, down to the present day.
The culminating event in the Panathenaic festival was the procession
of Athenian citizens that set out from the Kerameikos (Dipylon Gate),
crossed the ancient Agora and ended on the Acropolis, where sacrifices
were offered and the goddess's statue was dressed in a new robe.
The procession and the sacrifices were held on the last day of the
celebrations, on the 28th of HekaIombaion. The festival lasted for
about a week. and during the preceding days a variety of events
of an agonistic nature were organized, including athletic competitions
and music and poetry contests.
The athletic contests consisted of Olympic events and events derived
from local competitions. The former included equestrian events,
running, various forms of wrestling, and the pentathlon, and the
javelin-throwing from horseback, the pyrthichios dance, the race.
The music events were contests in playing the kithara and Lira,
and the poetry competitions were devoted to the reciting of the
Homeric poems to the accompaniment of the flute or kithara. The
prizes awarded to the winners were money, amphora fun of oil, gold
wreaths and oxen. The expense of organizing the games was
met by the Male and earthy citizens.
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