Why and How was the Acropolis built?

The Acropolis of Athens is a historic citadel located on a rocky outcropping above the city of Athens. According to archeological research, the earliest settlements on and around the limestone hill were established in the Neolithic Age. Few traces remain of the buildings erected by the Mycenaeans and little is known of the Acropolis until the 6th and 5th century BC.

 A major reconstruction effort of the Acropolis began during the“Golden Age” of Athens, following the Persian Wars. It was during this period, from about 460 BC, that Athenian statesman and general Pericles pushed forward a major development of the hill. Several buildings of great architectural significance from that era remain, with the most famous being the Parthenon.

The Parthenon, which was completed in 432 BC, was dedicated to the goddess Athena, but also acted as a treasury for the Athenian Empire. The temple is considered a masterpiece of classical architecture, with itsiconic columns and intricate decorations. The friezes, which depict scenes from Greek mythology, are particularly noteworthy for their beauty and craftsmanship.

Greeting visitors to the Athenian citadel is the Propylaea, designed by Mnesicles. This is the monumental gateway to the Acropolis and was built alongside the Parthenon. The Propylaea has a central gate and two wings, which were used as a reception hall for visitors to the Acropolis. Although construction was abandoned, the gateway was highly influential and inspired the Greek Revival architectural movement of the 1800s.

On the south side of the Acropolis, visitors will find the Temple of Athena Nike. This small temple was built around 420 BC and was dedicated to Athena Nike, the Goddess of Victory. The temple is particularly noteworthy for being one of the earliest fully Ionic temples, and was lauded for its intricate friezes and the statue of the wingless Nike that once stood on the parapet.

The Erechtheion, to the North of the Parthenon, is a temple shrouded in mystery. Researchers believe that the temple, which was named after Erechtheus, the mythical King of Athens, is dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. The asymmetrical temple is particularly noteworthy for its intricate decoration, including the famous "Porch of the Caryatids," which is a porch supported by six female statues.

In 1975, an ambitious restoration project of the Acropolis was launched under the direction of Melina Merkouri, the Minister of Culture of Greece. The aim of the project was to restore the Acropolis and to its classical state, undoing the damages sustained over the centuries. The restoration work continues to this day, making the ancient site accessible to visitors from all over the world.

The Acropolis is a symbol of ancient Greek civilization and art; a magnificent architectural complex that testifies the grandeur and the power of the ancient Athenian city-state. With its iconic buildings and intricate sculptures, it remains an important and fascinating destination for tourists and history enthusiasts.