Acropolis of Athens

Route in Spacetime

The Acropolis of Athens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was populated since the Neolithic era and during the Mycenean times was fortified with walls that protected the officers of the army. Later, in the place of the palace, there was built a temple dedicated to the gods Poseidon and Athena, that was destroyed later during the Archaic era twice, and was rebuilt for the second time at the beginning of the 5th century B.C.

Reconstruction of the Acropolis and Areus Pagus in Athens, by Leo von Klenze (1846)

The construction of the walls of Acropolis started with Kimon (Greek: Κίμων) and Themistocles (Greek: Θεμιστοκλῆς), Athenian politicians and generals in mid-5th century BC, and was completed with Pericles (Greek: Περικλῆς), a prominent and influential Greek statesman and general of Athens during its golden age and his cooperators – the architect Iktinos and the general supervisor and sculptor Fidias – have built Parthenon (dedicated to the goddess Athena).

The Acropolis of Athens is a privileged archeological site for a variety of reasons. It is Located in the middle of a plain 22 km long and 10 km wide, with an altitude of 156.20 meters. So the Acropolis is towering over the surrounding hills and becomes peripherally visible from long distances, without the head of the visitor assuming a discomforting position while observing it. This way, especially in ancient times, the space functioned symbolically and defensively for the residents of Athens. When we climb the Acropolis we observe that there is a comfortable visual image around the area in every direction with great clarity for at least 50 km. Athens emerged victorious creating two battles – symbols: the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) and the Battle of Salamis (480 BC) the first is connected with the oligarchic Athens and the second with the democratic Athens. The building complex of the Acropolis that the visitor observes nowadays, was constructed after the Persian Wars and after these victorious battles.

Then the Athenian League began to develop, under the pretext of addressing a future Persian threat, under the auspices of the Athens and consisted of more than 236 city-states (some even raise them to 400).

Its political and economic sphere of influence extended to a radius of 1,200 km.

All these are important in relation to the logic of the Acropolis building projects and this is because the projects we see on the Sacred Rock do not concern Athens as a city-state but Athens as a superpower, City-Patroness of the alliance.

Propylaea


The Greek word propylaeon (προπύλαιον) is the union of the prefix pro- (before) plus the plural of gate, meaning literally “that which is before the gates. Climbing the stairs of the Acropolis let us remember for a little while the myths about Athena the goddess who protects the city of Athens.

Crossing the threshold of the Propylaea we observe the separation of the columns in Triads. We enter a timeless space that is the Past, Present and Future. The Propylaea, which we pause for a moment to marvel at their art, cost the Athenian State 290 talents that in todays rates would sum up to 71.3 million euro (for materials and labor).

Parthenon


The Parthenon (Greek: Παρθενώνας) is a former temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron. Construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power and was completed in 438 BC, although decoration of the building continued until 432 BC. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered the zenith of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian democracy and Western civilization, and one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments.

To the Athenians who built it, the Parthenon and other Periclean monuments of the Acropolis were seen fundamentally as a celebration of Hellenic victory over the Persian invaders and as a thanksgiving to the gods for that victory.

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The believer reaching at the end of the passage, admired the colossal bronze statue of Athena, perhaps a project by Phidias. At the same time he could admire the Athenian Ionic Erechtheum and the Doric Parthenon. These are two structures with a completely different aesthetic.

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On the one hand in the Erechtheion Athena Polias protector of the earth’s forces and fertility is a tender mother full of femininity, on the other hand in the Parthenon Athena Pallas, the warlike patron of the city is presented virile and terrifying. The Parthenon was built to commemorate the victory at Salamis because the sea was the advantage of Athens.
It is of course reasonable to assume that Pericles could not have decided to build the brilliant temple of the Virgin which cost 500 talents, that would be 132.000.000 euros today (as much as a modern day 44 km long national highway of European standards), without politically taking advantage of the construction in the area.
From this point, when the Attic sky is clear, we can relive the terrible battle between the Persians and Greeks.
So when the Panathenaic procession entered the Acropolis area, every Athenian entered into another dimension like when passing through an Arch of Triumph.
Here the gods were close and next to him, perhaps they even touched him (something similar happens today with the Christian procession of Tinos). So the relationship God – Man was immediate. And the pillars, the geometric shapes, the sculptures etc. were playing the role of a symbolic reminder to man (just like the hexapteryga and the icons of the Christian world today).
The believer who followed the Panathenaic procession was leaving optimistic. And as he timelessly entered the area of the Sacred Rock (Past – Present – Future), he also timelessly left (Future – Present – Past). He saw the Past before him towards Salamis, since the Propylaea have this visual direction.
In the Sacred Site (Acropolis), man participates actively, seeing visions and creating performances (like in the various sacred sites of the monotheistic cults).