WELCOME TO LEDA'S GREECE in October 2016

WELCOME TO LEDA'S GREECE in October 2016

Acropolis




The Parthenon, dedicated by the Athenians to Athena Parthenos, the patron of their city, is the most magnificent creation of Athenian democracy at the height of its power. It is also the finest monument on the Acropolis in terms of both conception and execution. Built between 447 and 438 BC, as part of the greater Periklean building project, this so-called Periklean Parthenon (Parthenon III) replaced an earlier marble temple (Parthenon II), begun after the victory at the battle of Marathon at approximately 490 BC and destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. This temple had replaced the very first Parthenon (Parthenon I) of c. 570 BC. The Periklean Parthenon was designed by architects Iktinos and Kallikrates, while the sculptor Pheidias supervised the entire building program and conceived the temple's sculptural decoration and chryselephantine statue of Athena. The Parthenon is a double peripteral Doric temple with several unique and innovative architectural features. The temple proper is divided into pronaos, cella and opisthodomos, with a separate room at the west end, and is surrounded by a pteron with eight columns on each of the short sides and seventeen columns on the long ones.


The elegant building known as the Erechtheion, on the north side of the sacred rock of the Acropolis, was erected in 421-406 BC as a replacement of an earlier temple dedicated to Athena Polias, the so-called “Old temple”. The name “Erechtheion”, mentioned only by Pausanias (1, 26, 5), derives from Erechtheus, the mythical king of Athens, who was worshipped there. Other texts refer to the building simply as “temple” or “old temple”. The building owes its unusual shape to the irregularity of the terrain  there is a three-metre difference in height between the eastern and western parts - and the multiple cults it was designed to accommodate. The eastern part of the building was dedicated to Athena Polias, while the western part served the cult of Poseidon-Erechtheus and held the altars of Hephaistus and Voutos, brother of Erechtheus. This is where, according to the myth, Athena's sacred snake lived. The sanctuary also contained the grave of Kekrops and the traces of the dispute between Athena and Poseidon for the possession of the city of Athens. The temple was made of Pentelic marble, the frieze of Eleusinian grey stone with white relief figures attached to it and the foundations of Piraeus stone.

The Propylaia of the Athenian Acropolis were built on the west side of the hill, where the gate of the Mycenaean fortification once stood. The first propylon, or gate, was constructed in the age of Peisistratos (mid-sixth century BC), after the Acropolis had become a sanctuary dedicated to Athena. A new propylon, built in 510-480 BC, was destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC and repaired after the end of the Persian Wars, during the fortification of the Acropolis by Themistokles and Kimon.
The monumental Propylaia admired by modern visitors were part of the great Periklean building program. They were erected in 437-432 BC, after the completion of the Parthenon, by architect Mnesikles. The original building plan was particularly daring both in architectural and artistic terms, but was never completed.

The temple of Athena Nike stands at the southeast edge of the sacred rock atop a bastion, which in Mycenaean times protected the entrance to the Acropolis. The Classical temple, designed by architect Kallikrates and built in 426-421 BC, succeeded earlier temples also dedicated to Athena Nike. The first one of these, a mid-sixth century BC wooden temple was destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. The eschara, the altar believed to have supported the cult statue of the goddess, dates to this period. Under Kimon, c. 468 BC, a small temple of tufa was erected around the base of the statue and a new altar was built outside the temple. The foundations of these early temples and altars are preserved inside the bastion under the floor of the Classical structure. Pausanias (1, 22, 4) refers to this temple as that of the Apteros Nike, or Wingless Victory, and mentions that the cult statue of the goddess had no wings so that she would never leave Athens. 
Apart from the cult of Athena Nike other, earlier cults were also practiced on this site. On the west side of the bastion was a Mycenaean double-apsed shrine and on the east side, the pre-Classical shrines of the Graces and of Hekate Epipyrgidia. The construction of the Classical temple of Athena Nike was part of the Periklean building project. Several inscriptions, mostly decrees of the city of Athens, provide information on this particular part of the project.







Photos copyright: Leda Avouri

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