Acropolis (Athens, 5th century B.C.)

Acropolis (Athens, 5th century B.C.)

The world's most famous citadel, the Acropolis of Athens was built in the 5th century B.C., during the Age of Pericles.



Acropolis, citadel, Pheidias, Pericles, Hellas, World Heritage, Pallas Athena, Parthenon, building, city-state, Zeus, Greeks, Greek, Greece, Athens, Ictinus, Callicrates, edifice, polis, deities, Doric, tympanum, pedestal, portico, Ionic, religion, caryatid, sanctuary, Caryatids, age of peace, church, column, pediment detail, antiquity, history, defense

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  • In which part of the Greek city-states\nwere the acropolises usually located?
  • When was the citadel of Athens built?
  • Who was the chief god in the\nGreek religion?
  • Which goddess was worshipped in the temple built next to the gateway?
  • When was the last Athenian tyrant expelled?
  • Which of these is the synonym of city-state?
  • Which of these was a function of the Acropolis?
  • Which of these was a function of the Acropolis?
  • Who was the chief designer of the religious works of the Athenian citadel?
  • What is the first letter in the\nGreek alphabet?
  • What is the last letter in the\nGreek alphabet?
  • Who was the patron goddess of Athens?
  • How was Pallas Athena born,\n according to Greek mythology?
  • Who was the goddess of science and crafts, according to Greek mythology?
  • What is the name of the gateway of the Acropolis of Athens?
  • In which Greek architectural style was the Temple of Athena Nike built?
  • What is the name of the largest temple of the Acropolis of Athens?
  • How do we call a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support, taking the place of\na column?
  • In which building of the Acropolis of Athens are the caryatids?
  • Which building of the Acropolis of Athens is the "bronze store"?
  • Which one of the following was not an Athenian statesman?
  • Who was a tyrant?
  • Who/what held the most power in the Athenian democracy?
  • What was the serving time of officers in the Athenian democracy?



The citadel of Athens

Acropolises (citadels) were building complexes, used primarily for religious purposes, in ancient Greece. They were generally located in the city centers, on top of hills.

The most famous example is in Athens, atop a blue-gray limestone rock that rises 150 m (492 ft) above sea level.

In the golden age of Athenian democracy, in the 5th century B.C., Pericles commissioned one of the most famous artists of the ancient times, Pheidias to draw up the plans. The constructions were managed by Ictinus and Kallikrates. Magnificent buildings were constructed one after the other on the infertile rock. The Archeological Society organized large-scale excavations at the Acropolis in the second half of the 19th century, but the restoration is still not over. The Acropolis became a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Site in 1987.

Bust of Pheidias


The gateway

The term Propylaea generally refers to ancient Greek gateway. The gateway of the Acropolis of Athens was built between 437 and 432 B.C., based on the plans by Mnesicles. (The original plans have never been totally implemented, for several reasons.)

The gateway was composed of a central hall and side wings. The central hall was carried by columns; the six Doric columns of the façade formed five passageways.

The grandiose stairs leading to the gate were only constructed later, during the Roman era.

Out of the five gates and two halls of Propylaia, today only remnants of the boarded ceiling and the outer columns are still standing.

The gateway today


Temple of the virgin goddess

The Parthenon was the most impressive, central building of the Acropolis. One of the largest temples of the antique world, it was built between 447 and 432 B.C., based on the plans of Pheidias. The constructions were managed by Ictinus and Kallikrates. It was named after the epithet of the patron of the city, Pallas Athena (Athena Parthenos, Virgin Athena).

The temple was built in the Doric order. A staged substructure holds the outer columns (altogether 46) and the walls. The saddle roof and the two triangular façades ornamented with reliefs were held by the columns. The central cella of the temple was divided into two parts by a wall. The ivory sculpture of Athena, 11-12 m (36-39 ft) tall, designed by Pheidias- was in the bigger part, while the smaller cella was used as a treasury.

The Parthenon today


The building of the Caryatids

The plateau of the Acropolis is dominated by two temples: the Parthenon and the Erechtheion. The latter one was built in Ionian style. The specialty of this temple is the six female figures carved from stone holding the terrace-like hall (Erechtheion).

Caryatids are female statues used as columns (the male counterparts are called atlas figures). Caryatids were not only used by the ancient Greek architecture later styles also used them. The column hall of Erechtheion is an outstanding example even among other antique Caryatids.

The caryatids

Athena Promachos

The patron

City patron Pallas Athena became an Olympian as the child of Zeus and Metis. She was worshiped by the ancient Greeks as the goddess of wisdom, justice, crafts and arts. (Although she was born out of Zeus' head as a result of a hit by Hephaestus' hammer, she was still the favorite child of her father.)

Athena was also the protector of cities. She had to compete with Poseidon for a city in Attica. The competition was won by the goddess, so the city was named Athens after her. Naturally the most important buildings of the Acropolis were constructed in honor of the protector goddess (Athena Polias). However, Pheidias expressed his honor for Athena with another grand work as well. He made a colossal bronze statue, standing at an open part of the citadel, this way being visible from far in clear weather.

City patron Pallas Athena



Time travel

Parthenon (cutaway)

Athena Parthenos



The Acropolises occupied a significant position in the Antique Greek city-states. These citadels were constructed in the center of the polis at a location that could be easily defended. Apart from serving defense purposes, they were also religious centers.

The citadel of Athens has a special place among the many acropolises. It is not only its size and the quality of its design and construction that raise it above similar buildings of Ancient Greece, but also its historical significance. Located on a limestone rock on the Attica plateau, the Acropolis was built in the 5th century B.C., during the peaceful Age of Pericles. The main designer of the religious art here was Phidias, one of the most famous Hellenistic sculptors in this area.

A complex, monumental gateway, the Propylaea, served as an entrance to the sacred area. The grand marble gate was designed by Mnesicles.

In the Roman era, a staircase was added to it, next to which stood one of the finest examples of Ionic architecture, the Temple of Athena Nike.

Most of the buildings located on the rock promontory above the city were erected in honor of Athena, the goddess that protected the city named after her. The magnificent bronze statue of Athena stood in the central, open-air space of the acropolis, safeguarding the city she favored above others.

The Chalkotheke ("bronze store") was the site for collecting ritual presents dedicated to the goddess.

Among the buildings of the Acropolis stands one of the largest, most famous and most significant temples of the antique world, the Parthenon. Based on designs by Phidias, Iktinos and Kallikrates led the construction of this work of art that blends a Doric architectural order with Ionic elements. The larger cella of the temple housed the handiwork of the most famous Hellenistic sculptor: the 12-meter-tall (39-feet-tall) sculpture of Athena.

Apart from the treasured daughter of Zeus, other gods also occupied a place on the Acropolis. The Erechteion was also one of the religious temples of the Acropolis. It became famous for its caryatids, the maiden figures that served as supporting columns. Unfortunately, only the ruins have remained from the sanctuary of Artemis (Brauroneion).

The Acropolis of Athens, which attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, received its well-deserved place on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1987.

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