European Union

Archaeological Sites

The Acropolis

The Rock of the Acropolis dominates the center of modern Athens. It was chosen as a place of settlement as early as the Neolithic Period (4000/3500-3000 BCE), but it began to acquire its sacred character in the 8th century BCE after the establishment of the cult of Athena Polias (the Goddess Athena of the City) and the creation of a temple dedicated to her worship at the top of the rock.

The most important monuments that the visitor sees today – the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Erechtheion and the temple of Athena Nike – were built in the middle of the 5th century BCE when the treasury of the Delian League was transferred from Delos to the Acropolis. On the initiative of Pericles, an extremely ambitious building program was started that would last throughout the second half of the 5th century BCE. Thousands worked to complete these magnificent projects including brilliant craftsmen, Athenians and foreigners, citizens and slaves.

When Christianity prevailed, and especially from the 6th century CE, the monuments were converted into churches. During the Turkish occupation (1456-1833), the Acropolis once again became the fortress of the city and a mosque with a minaret was installed inside the Parthenon for use by the occupying forces. In 1687, a cannonball fired by Venetian Marauders from nearby Filopappou Hill caused the Parthenon to explode because of the gunpowder that was stored inside.

During the Greek Revolution, the Acropolis was adopted as a monument of freedom and resistance. It passed again into Greek hands in 1822 with the appointment of the first guard Odysseas Androutsos, eventually becoming one of the most important symbols of the Greek Nation.

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