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Top Attractions in Acropolis of Athens

Parthenon

The Parthenon 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. It 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. The Greek Ministry of Culture is currently carrying out a program of selective restoration and reconstruction to ensure the stability of the partially ruined structure. The Parthenon itself replaced an older temple of Athena, which historians call the Pre-Parthenon or Older Parthenon, that was destroyed in the Persian invasion of 480 BC. The temple is archaeoastronomically aligned to the Hyades. While a sacred building dedicated to the city's patron goddess, the Parthenon was actually used primarily as a treasury. For a time, it served as the treasury of the Delian League, which later became the Athenian Empire. In the final decade of the sixth century AD, the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. After the Ottoman conquest, it was turned into a mosque in the early 1460s. On 26 September 1687, an Ottoman ammunition dump inside the building was ignited by Venetian bombardment. The resulting explosion severely damaged the Parthenon and its sculptures. From 1800 to 1803, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin removed some of the surviving sculptures with the alleged permission of the Ottoman Empire. These sculptures, now known as the Elgin Marbles or the Parthenon Marbles, were sold in 1816 to the British Museum in London, where they are now displayed. Since 1983 (on the initiative of Culture Minister Melina Mercouri), the Greek government has been committed to the return of the sculptures to Greece.

Brauroneion

The Brauroneion was the sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia on the Athenian Acropolis, located in the southwest corner of the Acropolis plateau, between the Chalkotheke and the Propylaia in Greece. It was originally dedicated during the reign of Peisistratos. Artemis Brauronia, protector of women in pregnancy and childbirth, had her main sanctuary at Brauron, a demos on the east coast of Attica. The sanctuary on the Acropolis was of an unusual trapezoidal shape and did not contain a formal temple. Instead, a portico or stoa served that function. The stoa measured circa 38 by 6.8 m; it stood in front of the southern Acropolis wall, facing north. At its corners, there were two risalit-like side wings, each about 9.3 m long, the western one facing east and vice versa. North of the east wing stood a further short west-facing stoa. All of the sanctuary's western part, now lost, stood on the remains of the Mycenaean fortification wall. All that remains of the eastern pare are foundations for walls, cut into the bedrock, as well as some very few architectural members of limestone. One of the wings contained the wooden cult statue of the goddess. Women who petitioned Artemis for help habitually dedicated items of clothing, which were draped around the statue. In 346 BC, a second cult statue was erected. According to Pausanias, it was a work by Praxiteles. The entrance to the small sacred precinct, near its northeast corner, is still marked by seven rock-cut steps. They, and its northern enclosure, were probably created by Mnesicles during the building of the Propylaia. The date of the complex in its final shape is unclear, but a date around 430 BC, similar to that of the adjacent Propylaia, is comnonly assumed.

Older Parthenon

The Older Parthenon or Pre‐Parthenon, as it is frequently referred to, constitutes the first endeavour to build a sanctuary for Athena Parthenos on the site of the present Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens. It was begun shortly after the battle of Marathon upon a massive limestone foundation that extended and leveled the southern part of the Acropolis summit. This building replaced a hekatompedon (meaning "hundred‐footer") and would have stood beside the archaic temple dedicated to Athena Polias. The Old Parthenon was still under construction when the Persians sacked the city in 480 BC and razed the acropolis. The existence of the proto‐Parthenon and its destruction was known from Herodotus and the drums of its columns were plainly visible built into the curtain wall north of the Erechtheum. Further material evidence of this structure was revealed with the excavations of Panagiotis Kavvadias of 1885-1890. The findings of this dig allowed Wilhelm Dörpfeld, then director of the German Archaeological Institute, to assert that there existed a distinct substructure to the original Parthenon, called Parthenon I by Dörpfeld, not immediately below the present edifice as had been previously assumed. Dörpfeld’s observation was that the three steps of the first Parthenon consist of two steps of poros limestone, the same as the foundations, and a top step of Karrha limestone that was covered by the lowest step of the Periclean Parthenon. This platform was smaller and slightly to the north of the final Parthenon, indicating that it was built for a wholly different building, now wholly covered over. This picture was somewhat complicated by the publication of the final report on the 1885–90 excavations indicating that the substructure was contemporary with the Kimonian walls, and implying a later date for the first temple. If the original Parthenon was indeed destroyed in 480 BC, it invites the question of why the site was left a ruin for 33 years. One argument involves the oath sworn by the Greek allies before the battle of Plataea in 479 BC declaring that the sanctuaries destroyed by the Persians would not be rebuilt, an oath the Athenians were only absolved from with the Peace of Callias in 450. The mundane fact of the cost of reconstructing Athens after the Persian sack is at least as likely a cause. However the excavations of Bert Hodge Hill led him propose the existence of a second Parthenon begun in the period of Kimon after 468 BC. Hill claimed that the Karrha limestone step Dörpfeld took to be the highest of Parthenon I was in fact the lowest of the three steps of Parthenon II whose stylobate dimensions Hill calculated to be 23.51x66.888m. One difficulty in dating the proto‐Parthenon is that at the time of the 1885 excavation the archaeological method of seriation was not fully developed: the careless digging and refilling of the site led to a loss of much valuable information. An attempt to make sense of the potsherds found on the acropolis came with the two-volume study by Graef and Langlotz published 1925–33. This inspired American archaeologist William Bell Dinsmoor to attempt to supply limiting dates for the temple platform and the five walls hidden under the re‐terracing of the acropolis. Dinsmoor concluded that the latest possible date for Parthenon I was no earlier 495 BCE, contradicting the early date given by Dörpfeld. Further Dinsmoor denied that there were two proto‐Parthenons, and that the only pre‐Periclean temple was what Dörpfeld referred to as Parthenon II. Dinsmoor and Dörpfeld exchanged views in the American Journal of Archaeology in 1935.

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