Everyone knows of the Acropolis, and knows that it is one of the most famous monuments of ancient times. In ancient Greek times the word actually meant “the highest point” in town. Ancient Greeks would build their towns on the flat land around a rocky hill this would allow them to better defend themselves during a war or an invasion. Acropolis means built on a hill which it was and served as a residential place, a religious place, and as the center of life for the citizens.
The Acropolis Site – Sacred Even Before Construction Began
The Acropolis has many meanings it was also meant to be named as the Sacred Rock. What is known is that the Acropolis is one of the most ancient monuments in all of Europe and was first used during the Neolithic Era, because archaeologists have found remnants from this era. Of course the monuments were not actually built until the Golden Age of Athens and became a truly sacred area that was built on. It was Pericles, a famous Athenian Statesman who first designed the buildings of the area. He gathered some of the most talented architects and sculptors for the time to begin work here.
The Acropolis was built on a limestone foundation that was about 150 meters above sea level. The entire compound consisted of the Parthenon, dedicated to the Goddess Athena, then Propylea a gateway made out of marble and was the entrance to Acropolis. Then there was the Erechteum known for its great emphasis on minute details. There was also the Temple of Athena Nike which was built to honor the goddess who brought victories to this city.
Mnesicles designed the Propylea, and constructed it of white marble. There is a central section to the gateway with two wings, and the central section is made up of six impressive columns. The temple of Athena Nike was constructed by the Greek Callicrates and is near the Propylea. It is the first of the impressive buildings visitors first see when arriving in the Acropolis. The front of the temple and the back are created with four Ionic columns which stand at both the front and back of this wonderful temple. Another impressive feature to this temple is the frieze which represents the conference of the Gods, along with other friezes on the east side which represent the battle scenes from Greek mythology.
The Parthenon – The Most Important Sample of Ancient Greek Architecture
The Parthenon is even more impressive than the first building. This temple was built in entirety from marble and was designed by the Greek architects Ictinus and Callicrates. The Parthenon is a building that cannot be missed when visiting Athens Greece because it is considered the most impressive of all the ancient Greek Architecture. It was built in the Doric and Ionic Greek style and there are eight columns that sit at each end with seventeen other columns along each side of the Parthenon. Can you imagine this building once housed the thirty three foot statue of Athena which was made of gold and ivory and sculpted by Phidias. The friezes on the outside of this wonderful temple are now hosed in the British Museum although the Greece is trying to get them returned to the country.
The next of the structures is the Erechtheum which was designed by Mnesicles and is named after a Greek Mythological hero. The southern side of the temple has statues of Kariatides which are columns that have been sculpted into the female shape.
Unfortunately, these monuments have been affected by the passage of time, and by humanity itself. When Christianity was adopted in Greece, these monuments were converted into churches, and some were occupied by foreign rulers. Athens Greece has had many trials and tribulations and the ravages of war have affected structures of great historical importance, like the Acropolis.
For instance in 1687 the Acropolis was severely damages when a siege by Venetians arrived to conquer the Turks. At the time the Turks were using the Parthenon to store gunpowder. The Venetians managed to ignite the gunpowder causing an explosion that destroyed a major part of the temple.
In the last century a program has developed to start the restoration of all the temples and to make the Acropolis as Impressive and glorious as it once was.
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