6 Things to know about Parthenon - Acropolis

The special "geography" of Athens and the Millennial History of the city with its corners, monuments and buildings reflect a nostalgic ancient period. The Acropolis (literally 'high part of the city') is one of the most important monuments in the Western world, and it is located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens.

The Acropolis contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon that means 'house of the virgin'. 

1) The Old Temple

South of the Erechtheion there are the foundations of an old Doric temple of the Parthenon dating from the time of the Peisistratos (565 BC). The Ancient sources name it as 'mega naos' or 'large temple', which referred to the length of 100 ancient feet or "Hecatobedos".

In the central part of the temple, the statue of Athena Parthenos (Virgin), which is why the temple was also called Parthenon, that is, the house of Virgin Athena.

This temple must have been in the place where the Parthenon we later knew was built. Some scholars confirm that before the Parthenon there was indeed a porous temple, but some of the relics attributed to it, may have belonged to the nearby "ancient youth" of Athena. 

2) The New Temple

Some scholars believe that the new temple was built twice in the 6th century; it was dedicated to Athena Poliada and was destroyed in 480 BC by the Persians.
Under the Pericles building program, the rebuilding of the Parthenon began in 447 BC and the inauguration took place in 438 BC at the Panathenaic feast. The conception of the building project is attributed to Iktino and Kallikratis under the general supervision of Pheidias.

In this new temple, Athena would no longer be worshiped as a "Procurator", but as a "Virgo" who won a moral victory in the city. In the 4th century BC we were first informed that this "Great New Temple" was called Parthenon.

3) The Materials of Parthenon

The Parthenon was made of white Pentelic marble, from the nearby Mt. Pentelicus, with a porous stone foundation and a wooden ceiling with a marble roof. Pentelic marble is known, until today, for its pure white appearance and fine grain. It also contains traces of iron, which over time has oxidized, giving the marble a soft honey color, a quality particularly evident at sunrise and sunset

22,000 tons of marble was used for the temple and it measured 30.88 m by 69.5 m; was constructed using a 4:9 ratio in several aspects. 

4) The Parthenon Decoration

 The sculptural decoration was completed in 432 BC and the particularly large sect was the main cause of the width of the temple's flaps. The temple has 92 metopes. On the eastern side we have Gigantomachy performances, in the western Amazonas, the northern scenes from the fall of Troy, and in the south the Lapiths and the Centauri conflict. The frieze surrounding the temple depicts the Panathenaic procession. In the Aetamas in the east we have the birth of Athena and in the western part the conflict of Athena and Neptune.

5) The Athena Statue

In the depth of the temple, which could be walked through a special built door, was housed the devotional chryselephantine statue of Athena Parthena (Virgin). In the years of Pausanias (110AD) in front of the statue there was a reservoir of water, most likely to provide the necessary moisture for the maintenance of the ivory.  

6) Later History

In 334 BC, Alexander the Great devoted shields from the spoils of his victory over the Persians to the Granic River in the eastern architrave of the temple. On Roman rule, the Athenians tabled a resolution in honor of Neron.

The Parthenon, in the 5th century AD, was converted into a Christian church, a three-aisled basilica. A three-sided arch on the east side was added and as a result the sculptures were destroyed there. The temple was dedicated to the worship of Our Lady of Athiniotissa. In 1018 the Byzantine emperor Basil II the Bulgaroctonus worshiped the Parthenon. During the Fourth Crusade (1204), the Ducal De La Roche family assumed the rule of Athens. Then the temple was dedicated to Notre Dame.

As soon as Athens fell into the hands of Mohammed II of the Conqueror in 1458, the Parthenon was turned into a mosque. In 1687 during the 2nd Venetian-Turkish war it was a powder store for the Turks. Thus, the artillery shell of Morozini fell to the Parthenon and blew it causing great disasters in its architectural and sculptural decoration. Morozini violently stole sculptures from the temple, destroying much more.

In the early 19th century, the English Ambassador of England, Lord Thomas Bruce Elgin, based on a sultan notice, stole and destroyed a significant part of the Parthenon sculptures, of which the remains are still in the British Museum. 

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