Archaelogical Sites Athens

istock 000002565933xsmallAcropolis hill: The hill of Acropolis is globally the most recognisable spot of the city of Athens. It is a monument of world cultural heritage and a symbol of the glolden century of the city under the ruling of Pericles. The oldest settlement is in 3500 BC, in 3000-2000 BC there was further development and in 1600-1100 BC during the Mycenaean period the city was fortified with the enormous Pelasgian walls. Acropolis was the home of the ruler but it was tranformed gradually in to the cultural center of the city (1200 BC). The city spread. In front of the Karyatides there are relics of a temple of the 6th century BC that was the older temple of Athena. Some sculptures of pediments have been preserved and also some lion statues that are on display in Acropolis museum. In the period before the Persian wars a Dorian Parthenon had begun to be built but it was destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. The final form of the Parthenon as it is today known was created according to the vision of Pericles from 450 BC to 420 BC. The architectural sketching was from Iktinos who cooperated with Kallikratis under the general supervision of Pheidias. Pheidias and his colleagues designed and constructed the sculptural decoration of the temple, the two gables in the frieze and the pediments. Also a work of Pheidias was the colossal statue of Athena made of gold and ivory. In 421 BC during the years of the Peloponnesian war the Erechthium was built. It was a temple of Ionic rhythm where more goddesses were worshipped. In 447 to 438 BC the Propylea were constructed. In all the ancient times the significance of Acropolis was big and that had as a result the gathering of a lot of statues and offering as well as inscriptions. When Christianity flourished it became a church. In 1381-95 AD it was transformed to a Catholic church and after that to a mosque. In 1687 AD a part of it was blown as a result of enemy fire between Turks and Venetians. In 1801 Lord Elgin deducted a large part of the sculptures and sold them to the British museum where they are today. In 1833 the Turks left Greece and after the two years the Bavarians soldiers that were billeting there also left. Since the structuring of the Greek state large maintenance and restoration operations are been conducted due to the wear of the monument because of atmospheric pollution. View Map

Dionysus theater: It lies in the foot of the hill of Acropolis. The excavations started in 1830 AD and today the orchestra, the Koilon and the stage are preserved. The first activities in the theater started in the 6th century BC and in the 4th Century it took the todays form. It had a capacity of 17000 spectators and it was devided in three parts whilst it had 13 stands. During Neron times (1st century AD) it was used as an arena. It was in that theater that for the first time the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles Euripides and the comedies of Aristophanes were performed.

Herodeion: It was built by the rich sophistis Herod Atticus in 160-170 BC in memory of his second wife Rigilla. It had a roof made of cedar wood and a capacity of 5000 spectators. In 1955 works of restoration begun and since then it is the main space for festivities for the festival of Athens.

Pnyx hill: It was the space where Ecclesia of Dimos (Athens parliament) in ancient Athens had its gatherings. Shortly after the democratic reformations of Kleisthenis (307 BC) assemblies of free civilians that were never more than 5000 people were conducted there. It was the place where Themistocles, Pericles, Aristedes spoke their speaches. There are no shaded spaces so the assembly took place in the morning. In 330-326 AD the spot took its final form after the Rhetor Lykourgos commanded the creation of a big square.

Ancient market: it lies between Acropolis and the todays Theseion exactly where Solon transferred it from its previous place near Acropolis. The first public buildings were the ancient parliament and the temple of Apollo. Peisistratus and his descentants built Iliaia, Enneacrounos and the altar of the 12 gods. Kleisthenis built the first temple of the mother of gods and made some structural reforms to the buildings. After the Persian destruction (480-475 BC) tholos, the arcades, the new parliament, the arcade of Zeus were built. That made the area of the ancient market to be surrounded by many buildings. During Hellenistic times the Stoa of Attalos (Attalos Arcade) was built ( Attalos was a king of Pergamos).

Filopappou hill: it is located soutwest of the Acropolis and it is surrounded by the neighborhoods of Theision, Petralona, Koukaki. It is actually a grove in the heart of the city and it was dedicated to the Muses in ancient times. In 119 AD there was a monument there in the memory of Gaius Julius Filopappos and the hill was named after that monument. There are also some relics of a tower from the forts of Demetrios the sieger (229BC), as well as some remains of residencies. Beside the ancient monuments and the natural beauty there are some interesting reformation works with stone pavements and a tourist stand near the picturesque church of St. Demetrius.

Thisseio: it is actually a temple of Hephaestus but the prevailing name is Thisseio. It was founded in the 5th century BC and it is an excellent sample of an Attic Dorian rhythm. There are 13 columns in the long sides and 6 columns in the narrow sides that had a height of 6 meters. There were 68 friezes and the 18 of them are in a relief form. They represent the feats of Hercules and the myths of Thiseas. It was transformed to a temple after the coming of Christianity and during Byzantine times it was used as a monastery.

Lycicratus monument: it is one of the most marvelous and well preserved monuments and it was built in 334 BC by Lycicratus (it is located in the today's square of Lycicratus in Plaka). It was built because a bronze tripod was placed there that had been given to him as a prize. It is comprised by a square base made of stone. In this base a structure in a shape of a circular temple is placed made of marble of Penteli. In the frieze there are some relief depictions of the captivity of Dionysus and the punishment of his kidnappers. In its top there is a monolithic column made of Blue marble of Ymittos.

Keramikos archeological site: The name came from the Hero Keramos who was a protector of the pottery craftsmen that had their laboratories there. In the period from the 11th century to the 5th century there was a cemetery there. IN 479 AD after the retrieval of the Persians a wall was built there with the initiative of Themistocles. Outside the wall there was a second wall and between them a ditch that had a length of 11 meters and a depth of 6 meters. In the 6th century BC the last repair of the walls took place. The wall was again repaired before the attack of King Phillip the second of Macedonia (338 BC). A fortified yard is saved and a gate that is the entrance of Panatheneon Street, and the sacred gate. Tomb monuments have been found in these streets. There was also a second gate from which Iera odos (street) was coming through which led to Elefsina. There was also second streets that lead to Pireaus. In the space between the two gates there was Pompieion and on it a three space basilica was built.

Temple of Olympian Zeus: it is the largest temple of the ancient city. There where the remains of the temple lie is still called Styles Olympiou Dios. At the end of the Geometrical times it is assumed that a temple was there. The todays temple begun to be built in 535 BC under the ruling of Peisistratus, but because it was perceived as a symbol of the tyranny of Peisistratus it remained unfinished for 400 years. The temple was finished in 132 AD from emperor Andrianos. When Pausanias visited Athens in 170 BC the temple had 104 columns built of Pentelic marble and a height of 17 meters. Today 16 columns survive. The temple had colossal dimensions and Aristotle compared it with the pyramids of Egypt. View map

Andrianos gate: it is preserved in good shape and it is actually an arch that Athenians built in order to honor Emperor Andrianos (117-138 BC). It is located near the temple of Olympian Zeus and it used to divide the old city of Thiseus from the new neighborhood Andriannoupoli which the Emperor had it built. View map

Temple of Poseidon in Sounio: it is one of the most impressive temples in Attica and it is located in the southern and highest hill of the Peninsula of Sounio. It was dedicated to the god of sea Poseidon. It was built in 444-440 BC upon the relics of an ancient temple that was destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. It is of Dorian rhythm by the same architecture that created Thision. The temple has some peculiarities. The columns have the ancient number of striations (16) and not the classical (20). The roof was destroyed in the 1st century BC. The propylea of the temple have direct analogies to the propylea of Athens. The central entrance has an inclined level of several levels destined for sacrifices of animals whilst the side levels where for the purpose of carrying out repairs. The propylea of Sounio were small of the propylea of Athens and had 3 gates instead of 5, but the similarity is that both have a larger first gate.