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
During the Classical period (450-330 B.C.) three important
temples were erected on the ruins of earlier ones: the Parthenon, the
Erechtheion, and the Temple of Nike, dedicated to Athena Parthenos, Athena
Polias, and Athena-Apteros Nike, respectively. The Propylaea, the
monumental entrance to the sacred area was also constructed in the same
The monuments on the Acropolis reflect the successive phases of the city's
history. Some of them were converted into Christian churches, houses of
the Franks and later on, of the Turks. After the liberation of Athens from
the Turks, the protection, restoration and conservation of the monuments
was one of the first tasks of the newly-founded Greek state. This major
effort is continued until today, with the large-scale restoration and
supporting of the monuments, which started in the 1970's and is still in
The first excavations on the hill were conducted between 1835 and 1837.
More systematic work was carried out in 1885-1890 by Panagiotis Kavvadias.
The South Slope of The
The south slope
of the Acropolis played a significant role in the artistic, spiritual and
religious activity of ancient Athens. Important public buildings were
erected in the area: the Odeion of Perikles, the sanctuary and theatre of
Dionysos, the choregic monuments, the Asklepieion, the stoa of Eumenes and
the Odeion of Herodes Atticus.
Recently, architectural members in the orchestra and the retaining wall of
the east parodos of the Dionysos Theatre were restored.
Excavations at the sanctuary of Dionysos started in 1838 by
the Greek Archaeological Society and lasted for about a century. They
brought to light the theatre and the greater part of the sanctuary which
includes the two temples of Dionysos.
The excavations at the Odeion of Perikles were carried out almost sixty
years ago and revealed a large building with many columns. The
excavations, conducted by Kastriotes (1914-1927) and Orlandos (1928-1931),
revealed the north side of the building and five column bases at the NE
The excavations at the Asklepieion were conducted in 1875-76 by the Greek
Archaeological Service under the direction of St. Koumanoudis and
uncovered the Early Christian basilicas and remains of the most important
buildings of the sanctuary.
The Ancient Agora of Athens
The Agora was the
heart of ancient Athens, the focus of political, commercial,
administrative and social activity, the religious and cultural centre, and
the seat of justice.
The site was occupied without interruption in all periods of the city's
history. It was used as a residential and burial area as early as the Late
Neolithic period (3000 B.C.). Early in the 6th century, in the time of
Solon, the Agora became a public area.
After a series of repairs and remodellings, it reached its final
rectangular form in the 2nd century B.C. Extensive building activity
occured after the serious damage made by the Persians in 480/79 B.C., by
the Romans in 89 B.C. and by the Herulae in A.D. 267 while, after the
Slavic invasion in A.D. 580, It was gradually abandoned. From the
Byzantine period until after 1834, when Athens became the capital of the
independent Greek state, the Agora was again developed as a residential
The Roman Agora of Athens
building measuring 111 x 98 m., comprising a spacious rectangular
courtyard surrounded by stoas, shops and storerooms. It has an east, Ionic
propylon and a west, Doric propylon, known as the Gate of Athena
It was built between 19 and 11 B.C. with a donation of Julius Caesar and
Augustus. During the reign of Hadrian the court was paved with slabs.
After the invasion of the Herulae in A.D. 267 the city of Athens was
restricted to the area within the Late Roman fortification wall, and the
administrative and commercial centre of the city was transferred from the
Ancient Agora to the Roman Agora and the Library of Hadrian.
During the Byzantine period and the Turkish occupation the area was
covered with houses, workshops and churches along with the Fethiye Mosque.
After the necessary purchase and demolition of the private
houses and other buildings covering the area, a series of excavations were
carried out by the Greek Archaeological Society (in 1837-45, 1890-91,
1920, 1930-31), by the Italians (in 1940-42), by An. Orlandos and P.
Lazarides (in 1963-64) and by the 1st Ephorate of Antiquities (in 1955,
1965-66, 1968, 1984-85, 1989, 1991).
In 1915-19 restoration work was carried out by An. Orlandos on the Gate of
Athena Archegetis and the Tower of the Winds. In 1942 some of the columns
of the east peristyle were restored by the Italians, and in 1963 three
columns of the south peristyle with their architraves were also restored
by Orlandos. Further restoration work was undertaken in 1975-76 by the 1st
Ephorate at the Tower of the Winds and the Gate of Athena Archegetis.
triumphal arch lies on an ancient street that led from the old city of
Athens to the new, Roman section, built by Hadrian. It was constructed by
the Athenians in 131AD, in honor of their benefactor emperor. Two
inscriptions are carved on the architrave, one on each side: the first, on
the side facing the Acropolis reads "This is Athens, the ancient city
of Theseus"; the second, facing the new city reads "This is the
city of Hadrian and not of Theseus". The central arched opening is
supported by pilasters crowned with Corinthian capitals, Similar but
taller pilasters flank the outer corners. The arch is crowned by a series
of Corinthian columns and pilasters, with an Ionic architrave at the ends.
The monument is was built with Pentelic marble.
The Olympion of Athens
tradition, the establishment of the sanctuary goes back to the time of
mythical Deucalion. The site was inhabited in the prehistoric period and
the cult of Zeus is attested in early historic times. In ca. 515 B.C.,
Peisistratos the Younger, began the construction of a monumental temple
which was not finished because of the fall of the tyranny in Athens. Much
later, in 174 B.C., Antiochos IV Epiphanes, the king of Syria, attempted
to continue the erection of the temple, which was finally completed by the
Roman emperor Hadrian, in A.D. 124/125. Inside the temple stood a colossal
chryselephantine (gold and ivory) statue of Zeus.
named after the community of the potters (kerameis) who occupied the whole
area along the banks of river Eridanos. The walls of Athens, which were
constructed in the 5th century B.C. by Themistocles, divided the area into
two sections, the "inner" and "outer" Kerameikos. The wall had two gates,
Dipylon and the Sacred Gate, placed at the outset of the two most
important processional roads of Athens, the Panathenaic Way which led to
the Acropolis, and the Sacred Way which led to Eleusis. Outside the city
walls, along the sides of both roads lay the official cemetery of the
city, which was continuously used from the 9th century B.C. until the late
Athens has a large number of
Archaeological Sites. For more information please visit the official site
Ministry of Culture