Acropolis: the symbol of Athens

Feel the classical spirit and civilization while walking in front of monuments such as Parthenon and Erechtheion with Caryatids.
Acropolis Ancient Athens Sightseeing
Average Cost: 20€ (Reduced: 10€) / Multi-monuments package: 30€ (Reduced: 15€)

The Acropolis of Athens and its monuments are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization. Acropolis forms the greatest architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world.

A symbol of enduring achievements of the human spirit, Acropolis  (from the Greek words ἄκρον – akron, “edge, extremity” – and πόλις  – polis, “city”) is home to four masterpieces of classical Greek art, built about 2,500 years ago: Parthenon, Propylaea, Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike.

Admission:
Ticket price: 20€
Reduced ticket: 10€ for non-EU students, Europeans over 65 and accompanying parents of elementary school students.
Free entrance for under 18, EU students, students at schools of tourist guides, journalists, members of Societies of Friends of Museums and Archaeological Sites of Greece, members of the ICOM-ICOMOS, escorts of blind people or of people with mobility difficulties, free admission card holders, official guests of the Greek government, tourist guides, teachers at school/university visits.

Special ticket package price: 30€
Reduced special ticket package price: 15€ for non-EU students, Europeans over 65 and accompanying parents of elementary school students.
Valid for 5 days.
This ticket allows you to enter the following places: Acropolis of Athens, Ancient Agora of Athens, Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, Archaeological Site of Lykeion, Hadrian’s Library, Kerameikos, Museum of the Ancient Agora, North slope of Acropolis, Olympieio, Roman Agora of Athens, South Slope of Acropolis.

Free admission days:
– 6th March (in memory of Melina Mercouri)
– 5th June (International Environment Day)
– 18th April (International Monuments Day)
– 18 May (International Museums Day)
– The last weekend of September annually (European Heritage Days)
– Every first Sunday from November 1st to March 31st
– 28 October

Opening hours:
April – October: 08.00-20.00 (last admission: 19.30).
November – March: 08.00-17.00 (last admission: 16.30).

Holidays:
– 1 January: closed
–  6 January: 08.00-15.00
– Shrove Monday: 08.00-15.00
– 25 March: closed
– Good Friday: closed until 12:00
– Holy Saturday: 08.00-15.00
– 1 May: closed
– Easter Sunday: closed
– Easter Monday: 08.00-15.00
– Holy Spirit Day: 08.00-20.00
– 15 August: 08.00 – 20.00
– 28 October: 08.00-15.00
– 25 December: closed
– 26 December: closed

What’s up there:
There is evidence that Acropolis was inhabited as far back as the fourth millennium BC. However, the rocky hill was transformed into a unique monument of thought and the arts, dedicated primarily to the goddess Athena, in the fifth century BC. Actually in the second half of the fifth century BC, Athens, following the victory against the Persians and the establishment of democracy, took a leading position among the other city-states of the ancient world. In the ages that followed, the Athenian statesman Pericles assigned the construction of below four monuments to an exceptional group of artists, guided by the sculptor Pheidias:
– the Parthenon, built by Iktinos and Kallikrates,
– the Erechtheion,
– the Propylaea, the monumental entrance to the Acropolis, designed by Mnesicles and
– the small temple of Athena Nike.

Unlike other Greek sanctuaries of Ancient Greece, Acropolis was built on a master plan with the buildings related to one another.

Hundreds of people worked to complete the construction of the monuments in the record timings targeted. It is said that philosopher Socrates – a young man working as stonemason at that time – was one of them.

Below are the main sights you will see on Acropolis hill (source: Greek National Tourism Organization):

Acropolis map

Below numbers refer to the respective numbers on the above plan.

7.1: The Propylaea is the monumental entrance to the Acropolis. It was designed by the Athenian architect, Mnesikles and was constructed in 437-432 B.C. It consists of a central building and two lateral wings, one to the north and one to the south. The Propylaea also served as the control gate for the entrance to the sanctuary; criminals or other ritually unclean people who would claim the protection of the gods would be denied the access in front of Propylaea. The Brandenburg Gate of Berlin and the Propylaea in Munich are copies of the central portion of the Propylaea.

7.2: The Temple of the Athena Nike, south of the Propylaea and built around 420 BC, was a creation of the architect Kallikrates. The site had ceremonial roots that date back to the Bronze Age. “Nike”, which in Greek means “victory”, implies that here the Goddess Athena was worshiped as the Goddess of victory in wisdom and war. In fact Athenians built this temple in hope for victory against Sparta at the Peloponnesian war. In the cella of the temple was a cult statue of the Goddess, holding a helmet – symbol of war – in one hand and a branch of pomegranate tree – symbol of peace – in the other. In Ancient Greece deities of victory (“nike”) were usually depicted with wings. Here the statue of Athena Nike had no wings and thus it is known as “Wingless Victory“. Story is that Athenians made the statue without wings, so that Victory could not leave Athens.

7.3: The Parthenon is one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments and a symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian democracy and western civilization. Its was built in the golden age of Pericles, with its construction starting in 447 BC and its decoration being completed in 432 BC. The architects behind this architectural masterpiece were Iktinos and Kallikrates, while supervisor of the whole construction was the famous sculptor Pheidias. The latter was also the creator of the chryselephantine statue of Athena, which stood in the cella of the temple. The statue was the destination point of the great procession of the Great Panathenaic Festival, the greatest festival of Athens in honour of the Goddess Athena.
Parthenon is a Doric peripteral temple with 8 columns on each end and 17 columns on each side. Despite the obvious geometrical structure, there is not one single straight line in the architectural form of the Parthenon, in a sense resembling the rhythm and pulse of a living organism. The floor and the roof bulge in the middle up to 10 cm. Even the columns bulge, giving the impression of being swollen from the tension (“entasis” in Greek) put by the weight of the roof.
The Parthenon had an external frieze, running around the entablature above the columns. This frieze contained ninety-two metopes. Those preserved depict the Gigantomachy (war of giants), the Centauromachy (battle of centaurs), the Amazonomachy (battle of Amazons) and the Trojan War. Currently some of the metopes are in the Acropolis museum, some belong to the Parthenon marbles and are kept in the British museum, while one is in the Louvre.
Parthenon also had an inner frieze running around the exterior walls of the cella, which is the inside structure of the Parthenon. This frieze, depicting the procession of the Great Panathenaic Festival, is the most characteristic feature in the architecture and decoration of the temple. The sculpture of this frieze depicted for first time common people as individuals participating in the Panathenaic Festival. This indicates that for first time in history every citizen of a city was recognized as a significant entity with an important role for the city.
Lastly, the Parthenon had two pediments, one on the east and one on the west side. The east pediment depicts the birth of the Goddess Athena from the head of her father, Zeus. The west pediment depicts the contest between Athena and Poseidon for the honor of becoming the patron of the city.
Originally the whole entablature was highly coloured.

Parthenon_side view_plan

7.4: The Erechtheion (420 – 406 BC) is the temple dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. It was built in the place of the old temple, destroyed by Persian invaders. According to the religious beliefs of Ancient Athenians, this was the place where the sacred olive tree spouted when Athena struck the rock with her spear during her rivalry with Poseidon for the city. The maidens supporting the roof of the southern balcony of the temple are the so called Caryatids. The ones in Acropolis are copies. Five of the six original Maidens are displayed in the Acropolis Museum, while the sixth one is displayed in the British Museum.

4: The Theatre of Dionyssos (part of the walk “Grande Promenade – short version”) is the most ancient theatre of the world with a capacity of 17,000 people. The most famous ancient Greek poets, Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides, and Sophocles saw in this theatre premiere performances of their plays in the 5th century BC.

5: The Stoa of Eumenus, built by the King of Pergamum, Eumenes II in the 2nd century BC, is the stoa between the theatre of Dionyssos and the Odeion of Herodes Atticus. It was used as a shelter and promenade for the audience of the theatre.

6: When you are on Acropolis Hill, you can see from above the interior of Odeion of Herodes Atticus (part of the walk “Grande Promenade – short version”). Still in use, this stone theatre with capacity of 5,000 people was built in 161 AD and was used as a venue for music concerts. You cannot enter it, as it is open to the public only when there is a concert. The Odeion of Herodes Atticus was built by Herodes Tiberius Claudius Atticus, a teacher and philosopher, who inherited a fortune from his father. Herodes Atticus constructed the Odeion in memory of his wife Regilla. Ancient Greeks organised events in the Odeion. Nowadays, it is a venue for concerts of the Athens Festival.

Areios Pagos: The most ancient law court in the world
Coming down from Acropolis, just a few meters away, you arrive at Areios Pagos hill, the most ancient law court in the world. When the weather is good, young people climb the hill in the evening and stay for the whole night, singing and enjoying the outstanding view of the city.

Areopagus_from_the_Acropolis

Online gallery photos: by Eirini Cheimoniti

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