The Parthenon In Greece

The Parthenon, an ancient temple sets on the Acropolis located in Athens, Greece.

The location of the Parthenon:

High on a hill in the country of Greece overlooking the city of Athens stand the ruins of a once splendid temple. This famed temple is known as the Parthenon and it sets on a hill called the Acropolis. The Acropolis became the religious center of ancient Athens, and it was on this hill that the Greeks built the Parthenon almost 2,500 years ago. They built the Parthenon to honor Athena Parthenos, the pagan goddess of Athens. Athena was the Greek goddess of wisdom and also the Warrior Maiden. The city of Athens was named in her honor.

Inside the temple stood a giant gold and ivory statue of Athena. During the 400s BC the people of Athens built several ravishing temples on their Acropolis. Athens had the best known Acropolis and was considered one of the finest groups of temples in the ancient world. The exquisite temples included the Parthenon (447-432 BC), the Propylaea, or gateway (437-432 BC), the temple of Athena (427-424 BC) and the temple of Erechtheus (421-405 BC).

Years later, an Englishman named Lord Elgin visited Athens. He sent some of the marble sculptures from the Parthenon back to England. Today they can be seen in the British Museum and are known as the Elgin Marbles. Other treasures from the temples can be seen in the Acropolis Museum in Athens. Acropolis is a Greek word meaning "high part of the city." Although the temples are in ruins, every year tourist comes from all over the world to visit the Acropolis.

The Acropolis is a precipitous hill about 200 feet high. In the 300s BC the hill was used as a large fort. When their enemies attacked the people would run to the safety of the fort. Later the Athenians decided to build walls around their city for protection and no longer used the fort. They began to build beautiful temples on the hill where the fortress once stood. Today Tourist climbs the winding stone steps to the top. At the top of the stairs is an entrance gate, known as the Propylaea. Just beyond the gate, a giant bronze statue of Athena once stood, many centuries ago.

What the Parthenon looked like:

Today the Parthenon is old and crumbled but there is something about it that takes you back to the glory days of ancient Greece. The Parthenon is the biggest temple on the Acropolis and was considered a great beauty in her day. It is square shaped with 8 columns going across each end and 15 along each side. Inside one can imagine the once glorious gold and ivory statue of Athena. The Parthenon had a roof having two skewed sides with a triangular space underneath each end so that carvings of gods and goddesses could be placed inside. An inner border of carvings shows a parade of Athenians including warriors, women, and priest.

Ictinus and Callicrates designed the Parthenon with sculpture work done by Phidias. It is made completely of white marble and surrounded by large standing columns. The temple had two rooms inside its cella, the encased space inside the colonnade. The smaller room was dedicated to the goddess Parthenon and in due time the whole building was named after her. The greater chamber was home to the enormous statue of Athena. Later the Crusaders took the statue to Constantinople and destroyed it. When Greece became a Christian nation the Parthenon served as a Byzantine church and then a Roman Catholic Church.

Later the Turks conquered Greece and used it as a Turkish mosque and during the war the Turks used it to store their gunpowder. On Sept. 16, 1687 Venetian troops fired upon the Parthenon causing it to explode. Debris scattered into the air and all over the Acropolis. The leftover pieces of sculptures were taken to France by duc de Choiseul. However, between 1802-3 most of the pieces were sent to Britain by the 7th earl of Elgin. Sometime between 1922-23, Nicolas Balanos, the Greek archaeologist compiled any remaining fragments and was able to restore several of the temple columns. Today it is still considered a favorite tourist attraction.

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