The Acropolis

The Acropolis is not a single building but a number of temples build on a hill overlooking Athens. The buildings that survive today are the Parthenon built between, 447 – 438 BC; the Propylaea constructed around 437 BC; The Temple of Athena Nike between 427 BC and 423 BC; and the Erechtheum which was begun in 421 BC, although work ceased between 414 BC and 409 BC, and was completed in 407 BC.

The Acropolis is entered via the Western Approach by the stairway leading to the Propylaea which was built as a gateway. Just across from the Propylaea is the temple of Athena Nike: the goddess of victory. Like the Propylaea, the temple of Athena Nike was restricted by the space available. The temple was used as a treasury where people would deposit their money for safe keeping. One of the strangest Greek temples in design is the Erechtheum as it does not follow the normal rules of Greek temple design. The temple was dedicated to Poseidon and it too was built on two levels due to the uneven land. It has two porches one of which is famous for the Caryatids. At the center of the temple during ancient times a lamp was continually kept burning.



The largest and most important building on the Acropolis is the Parthenon. It was the temple built for Athena Parthenos, the patron goddess of the city. The basic rectangular plan was surrounded by a colonnaded portico of columns on all four sides. It has 8 columns along the front and 15 on each side, 17 counting the corner ones. Each column had a number of stone drums, in the case of the Parthenon there were 11, and each drum is aligned with wood dowels placed in central holes to line them up. The building was richly decorated with sculptures – many of which were removed in 1802 by Lord Elgin and are now in the British Museum.

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