Tag Archives: Acropolis
If you look east southeast from the Acropolis you will see a crowded Athens neighborhood. But look closely, at the clearing below. The columns there are the remnants of the Temple of Zeus, and at the edge of that clearing closest to the Acropolis is the Hadrian’s Arch:
Construction of the Temple of Zeus began some time in the 6th century B.C., but the project was abandoned around 510 B.C. It would not be completed until some 600 years later, by Roman Emperor Hadrian in A.D. 131. Today, out of the original 104 Corinthian columns, only 15 remain standing. The collapsed column you see below was blown over in a violent storm in A.D. 1852.
Now, as promised on Monday, we move on to the massive Parthenon atop the Acropolis of Athens. The patron Olympian god of Athens was Athena, and Pericles dedicated this structure to her. Incredibly, it took only nine years to complete the basic structure, from 447 B.C. to 438 B.C., although decorative elements added until 432 B.C.
One of the more fascinating tidbits on the architecture involved is the extensive use of optical tricks employed by the Greeks to make the Parthenon appear squared that all elements are perfectly parallel or perpendicular to each other. Don’t fall for it. This was achieved through optical illusions on a massive scale. There is not a single element that employs a straight line, as the Greeks sought to overcome the dynamics of perspective and the biases of the eye. Even the four corners of the Parthenon slope downward from the center of the structure in a gentle curve, and contrary to what you behold, the columns lean ever-so-subtly inward. If you were to extend those columns skyward, they would eventually converge about one mile/1,600 feet up.
Make sure you check out some of the more subtle architectural details and decorations, such as this horse head from the chariot of Selene, the goddess of the moon:
I’ll present more images of this and other Acropolis structures this week and next, but let us move on for now to another temple to Athena, as well as Poseidon. The Erechteion lies north of the Parthenon, and it gets its name from the Greek hero king Erechthonius.
In one corner of the the Erechtheion you can see six columns disguised as statues. This is the Porch of the Caryatids (maidens).
By early afternoon we were back in back in Athens from our trip to Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon, and soon we were atop the hill that is home to the Acropolis of Athens. And just as the Temple of Poseidon would not exist without Pericles, the same is true of the most monumental buildings located here. This includes the Propylaea of Athenian Acropolis.
A propylaea serves as a monumental gateway, and the Propylaea here is certainly monumental as the gateway to the Acropolis.
At the south end of the Odeon stands a rather elaborate three-story masonry wall sporting some impressive arches.
The Acropolis does not, however, offer the only views around. Below the Acropolis is another remnant of the rule of Pericles, the Temple of Hephaestos.
Don’t just look around the Acropolis for sights. Scan around and you’ll see the National Observatory of Athens and the Church of St. Marina in Thissio to the west.
But Acropolis is primarily about the building legacy of Pericles, and we haven’t even looked at the most important structure atop this hill overlooking modern day Athens. Here is the structure synonymous with the Acropolis, the magnificent Parthenon:
We’ll be discussing this temple to Athena on Wednesday. Until then, one last image: