Acropolis


The Acropolis of ancient Greece consisted of many different structures. The structures included in the construction of the Acropolis were the Erechteum, the statue of Athena, the Propylaea, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Parthenon. These structures, inside the extensive Acropolis walls, were designed for many significant reasons. One of the most remarkable aspects of a settlement from the Mycenaean period (1600 – 1200 B. C. ) is the wall around the Acropolis.

The first inhabitants did not only choose places like this because they could collect food there, or grow their own crop, but also because a settlement situated on the top of a rock provides excellent defense against possible aggressive forces in the surroundings. That is why all early settlements were situated on top, or in the neighborhood, of a natural defense barrier. Often the inhabitants of the Mycenaean settlements helped nature a little by building huge walls around their properties, which had to scare off enemies.

In those ancient times people often could not believe that this all was constructed by human beings, so they called them “Cyclopean Walls. ” after the Cyclops from the Greek mythology, who were one-eyed giants. The Propylaea, located at the west end of the hill, is a roofed entrance structure into the sacred precincts of the Acropolis. It was designed by the renowned architect Mnesicles, and constructed between the years 437 BC and 432 BC. However, the construction was ended during the Peloponnesian wars, and the building never reached completion for unknown reasons.

It consists of a central building and two wings. The colonnades along the west and east sides had a row of Doric columns while two rows of more slender Ionic columns divided the central corridor into three parts. The Doric columns recall those of the Parthenon, although they are much more severe. The central gate hall has two chambers. The north one was used as a painting gallery, while the south chamber, although never completed, was most likely intended as a sculpture gallery and as an entrance to the temple of Nike.

The Doric architecture of the building forms a perfect combination with the Ionic columns. The walls of the north wing were decorated with painted panels or wall paintings and this is why it is called the “Pinakotheke”. More decoration could be found on the ceiling of the Propylaea. The back of the central hall included two large colonnades. The Propylaea is completely built with white Pentelicon marble. The temple of Athena Nike, the winged goddess of Victory, stands on a rebuilt Mycenaean fortification.

The name of the architect was Callicrates and it was erected somewhere around 420 BC. It is an amphiprostyle temple with Ionic porticos of four columns on the front and rear porches, and only measures 5. 64 by 8. 34 m, or 18. 5 by 27 ft. It is the only wholly Ionic building on the Acropolis, and remained intact until 1686, when the Turks dismantled the building to use the blocks in fortifications. It was reassembled hastily in 1836 and then more carefully re-erected by Balanos and A. K Orlandos in 1935-40.

It is a small temple, which rises on the edge of the rock, where the Athenians worshipped the goddess of victory expressing their hopes for a new triumph in the war of those years when they were fighting desperately for victory on land and sea against the Spartans and their allies. The representations on the wall painting of the temple of Athena Nike recalled the historical battle of Plataiai where the Greeks defeated the Persians, and of a meeting between the gods Athena, Zeus and Poseidon