Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

Heritage by Type / Ancient Site

Acropolis, Athens

Acropolis, Athens

About the site


Corridor: Western Trans-Balkan Road
Country: Greece, Athens
Type: Ancient Site
Epoch: Antiquity
Theme: Antiquity
World Heritage: Cultural Heritage
AntiquityAntiquityAncient SiteCultural Heritage

Illustrating the civilizations, myths and religions that flourished in Greece over a period of more than 1,000 years, the Acropolis, the site of four of the greatest masterpieces of classical Greek art – the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Erechtheum and the Temple of Athena Nike – can be seen as symbolizing the idea of world heritage.

UNESCO


The Acropolis hill, so called the "Sacred Rock" of Athens, is the most important site of the city. During Perikles' Golden Age, ancient Greek civilization was represented in an ideal way on the hill and some of the architectural masterpieces of the period were erected on its ground.
The first habitation remains on the Acropolis date from the Neolithic period. Over the centuries, the rocky hill was continuously used either as a cult place or as a residential area or both. The inscriptions on the numerous and precious offerings to the sanctuary of Athena (marble korai, bronze and clay statuettes and vases) indicate that the cult of the city's patron goddess was established as early as the Archaic period (650-480 BC).
The Parthenon is the most important and characteristic monument of the ancient Greek civilization and still remains its international symbol. It was dedicated to Athena Parthenos, the patron goddess of Athens. It was built between 447 and 438 BC and its sculptural decoration was completed in 432 BC. The construction of the monument was initiated by Perikles, the supervisor of the whole work was Pheidias, the famous Athenian sculptor, while Iktinos and Kallikrates were the architects of the building. The temple is built in the Doric order and almost exclusively of Pentelic marble. It is peripteral, with eight columns on each of the narrow sides and seventeen columns on each of the long ones. The central part of the temple, called the cella, sheltered the famous chryselephantine cult statue of Athena, made by Pheidias.
The Erechtheion was built in ca. 420 BC in the Ionic order. It has a prostasis on the east side, a monumental propylon on the north, and the famous porch of the Caryatids on the south. The main temple was divided into two sections, dedicated to the worship of the two principal gods of Attica, Athena and Poseidon-Erechtheus. A relief frieze, bearing a representation possibly of the birth of Erechtheus, decorated the exterior of the building.
The Temple of Athena Nike was constructed in ca. 420 BC by the architect Kallikrates. It is built in the Ionic order, and it is amphiprostyle with a row of four columns in front of each of its narrow sides. The relief frieze on the upper section of the walls depicts the conference of gods on the east side, and scenes from battles on the other three. A marble parapet decorated with the relief representation of Nikae (Victories), protected the edge of the Bastion on which the temple was erected.
The Propylaea are the monumental gateway of the Acropolis was designed by the architect Mnesikles and constructed in 437-432 BC. It comprises a central building and two lateral wings. The colonnades along the west and east sides had a row of Doric columns while two rows of Ionic columns divided the central corridor into three parts. The walls of the north wing were decorated with painted panels or wall paintings and that is why it was called the "Pinakotheke". The ceiling of the Propylaea had coffers with painted decoration and a perforated sima around the roof.

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Read more about Acropolis, Athens at the Unesco World Heritage List.

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