Acropolis at night - Athens Greece Dusk

Acropolis and Parthenon Athens Greece

The Acropolis in Athens, Greece

View of Athens from the Acropolis

View of Athens from the Acropolis

The Acropolis is easily viewable from just about any location in Athens and the surrounding area, including the port of Piraeus, likewise, from atop the Acropolis one may see nearly all of Athens and out to the Saronic Gulf.


Brief History of the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

The Acropolis in Athens, Greece, has served as a religious ritual center, fortress, harem, church, capitol and tourist-stop supreme over many centuries, and is a constant touchstone used for histories of Western Civilization (where it will often be called 'the zenith of classical civilization achievement').

How the Acropolis / Parthenon was damaged

While being used as an armory by Turkish soldiers while fighting against the Venetian army (during the war between the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Venice, 1687), explosives stored in the building were accidentally set off when an overhead exploding cannon shell ignited the stockpile, and the Parthenon roof (which had managed to stay in structurally safe repair since 438 BC) blew to pieces.

Additional damage to the Acropolis

In addition, in 1827 Turkish artillery hit the Erechtheion (this during the Greek War of Independence), wrecking some of the Caryatid statuary, and an 1894 earthquake did additional damage.

The Acropolis mount is 156 meters (512 feet) above sea level.


The Acropolis with Lycabettus Hill in background, Athens Greece

The Acropolis with Lycabettus Hill in background, Athens Greece


Removal of pieces of the Parthenon: The 'Elgin Marbles'

Tourists and archeologists have removed pieces from the Acropolis over the centuries (and tourists have often carried off small marble splinters and pebbles scattered over the Acropolis mount. This is now illegal). But the most famous removal from the Acropolis are the "Elgin Marbles,' which are sections of the Parthenon shipped to England between 1801 and 1812 by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin.

Elgin took claim to approximately half of the then surviving statuary through an arrangement with the ruling Turkish Ottoman officials. Elgin claimed he was spurred toward this because statuary was being damaged and sometimes burned up in an effort to gain lime by the Ottomans.

Elgin's collection was consequently sold to the British government a few years later at half of what Elgin spent in order to ship the pieces to his home. The effort to have the pieces returned to Greece has so far produced no result. This story is covered thoroughly in the 2009 book "Loot" by Sharon Waxman.


Pireas in distance, with Acropolis mount with Parthenon, Athens, Greece
Pireas in distance, with Acropolis mount with Parthenon, Athens, Greece


Costs for building the Parthenon

"The Parthenon, the Propylaea , the temple miscalled the Theseion overlooking the Agora, friezed with sculptures in Parian marble (still in situ) - - how did Periclean Athens afford such buildings? We read that the solid gold of the gown of Athena Parthenos made the cost of this statue 1,000 talents. A talent was equivalent to roughly $6,000, so this Phidias statue alone cost $6,000,000 [in 2012 the cost equivalent would be $1.4 trillion]; and then the Parthenon building 700 talents ($4,200,000). Altogether, Athens spent some $57,600,000 on edifices, sculpture and war-painting during the Periclean years."

From page 18, Greece: The Unclouded Eye, by Colin Simpson, Published by Wm. Morrow & Co., 1968. Simpson's costs are based on the 1939 book The Life of Greece, Simon and Schuster.


Visiting the Acropolis

"After seeing the monuments and visiting the museum, one should pause to take in the view of the city below. The Acropolis is high enough so that one can clearly see all that remains of ancient Athens and yet it is low enough so that one can feel the pulse of the modern city. On a field below the northwestern edge of the 'Sacred Rock' lies the agora, the center of ancient Athens, where Socrates strolled and Saint Paul preached to crowds assembled in the marketplace.

Besides the many ruins, the agora is the site of the Stoa of Attalus, which was completely rebuilt by American archaeologists in the Pentelic marble of the original. It now serves as a museum of the agora. To the west , on higher ground, is the Temple of Hephaestus, better known as the Theseion because it was long mistaken for a temple dedicated to the legendary king of Athens. The Theseion is the best-preserved Doric temple in Greece, and is a half brother to the Parthenon because of its beauty and harmony."

Page 150, Hellas: A Portrait of Greece, by Nicholas Gage, published by Villard Books, 1971, 1986.


Important Dates in the history of the Acropolis

5000 BC

Approximate first indication of inhabitation of the Acropolis

1500-1200

The Mycenaean Period

1200-1000

The Dorian Invasion

1100-800

The Dark Ages

800-500

Archaic Period

800-600

Geometric Pottery

776

Origination of the Olympic Games

750

Homer's Iliad and Odyssey

635

Kylon history of Athens (he died 632)

630-480

The kouros statuary appear

630-475

Black figure vases appear

621

The law code of Drakon

594

Solon and the Athenian Constitution

566

The Panathenaic festivals reorganized

547-510

Tyranny of Peisistratid in Athens

530-500

Drama begins to evolve from strictly choral presentation

530

Red-figure pottery begins in Athens

514

Assassination of Hipparkhos (by Tyrannicides, Harmodius and Aristogeiton)

508

Cleisthenes Reforms the constitution

500-340

The "classic" period

499

Ionian cities revolt against Persia

490

Persian invasion of Greece

487

Reforms of the power of the arkhons

480-479

Second invasion of Greece by Persia

477

Formation of the Delian League led by Athens

447-433

Parthenon construction

437-432

Propylaia gateway constructed

431-404

Peloponnesian War

421-405

Erechtheion costructed on North side of Acropolis

404

The rule of "The Thirty Tyrants" a pro-Spartan oligarchy

338

Macedonian invasion

330-140

Hellenistic Age

322

The Lamian War and end of democracy in Athens

146

Roman invasion

86

Roman General Sulla sacks Athens (and Piraeus)

50

Apostle Paul in Athens

120-135

Roman Emperor Hadrian invests heavily in Athens (Hadrian ruled Rome 117 to 138) and sponsors the rebuilding of the Parthenon

 267

The Herulians (East German tribal group aso called Heruli and classified as 'Gothic') sack Athens. Escavations since 1931 have shown that the size of the assault and the damage was much greater than originaly thought in older historical records,and indicates the size of the city was also larger than what was thought previously for that era.

 435

Theodosius II (also called Theodosius the Younge) ruled the Eastern Roman Byzantine empire from 408 to 450 and married a Greek woman named Aelia Eudocia, aka Athenais, daughter of Greek scholar Leontios (she later sponsored the building of what is perhaps the very first Christian church in Athens, near the Hadrian Library). Theodosius, influenced by his older sister Pulcheria (who ruled as regent prior to him, and ruled briefly after his death) he converted to Christianity and subsequently outlawed pagan-faiths throughout Greece in 435.


Snow on the Acropolis Athens Greece

Snow on the Acropolis



Epicurus Greece Travel

Travels with Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life


Rick Steves Athens and Peloponnese Guide Book

Rick Steves Greece: Athens & the Peloponnese


Amazon 2016 Lonely Planet Guide Greece

Home | Archive | PHOTOS | Resources | Contact | Copyright | SITE MAP