The most invaluable monuments of the Western World
The word ‘Acropolis simply means high city, ancient settlements were generally made on the top of hills due to security concerns and Acropolis was no exception. In that sense there are many acropoleis in the world. Rome, Jerusalem, Athens, Thebes, Corinth etc all have acropoleis, but the word if plainly used; means the Acropolis of Athens; because it is that much associated to decisive historical events that shaped the destiny of Europe. The Acropolis complex was the epicenter of social, cultural and religious activities of a bygone era 3,000 years back is a flat topped hill in the center of the city of
The Acropolis is also known as Cecropia after the legendary King Cecrops -with a man’s head and a snake’s body - who is believed to have established the Athenian Empire. There are evidences that these people who lived here from 10th century BC knew the techniques of making bronze. Pottery pieces retrieved from this place prove that this hill was inhabited from the late Stone Age. There are remnants of a 13th century BC fortification made of cyclopean wall (made of lime-stone without using mortar) built around the complex. It was the establishment of the cult of Athena Polias in the 8th century BC that made this place the status of a pilgrim spot for the Greeks. A
Cecrops a mythical king of Athens
Artemis; the fem-fatale!
Even though Greek folklores say that the Athenian Empire was established by Cecrops; the first human king who ruled the empire was Actaeus of Allica. (There is one Actaeus who while on hunting in the woods happened to watch Goddess Artemis (daughter of Zeus and sister of Apollo, she also used to go on hunting spree) taking bath in a stream and was discovered by the Goddess. The enraged Artemis cursed Actaeus and he became a stag and got killed by his own hunts).
Athena her beauty was not just skin deep
Athena the daughter of Zeus was the sum total of all a man expected from womanhood. And there is seldom any woman in history; a woman remained in the fantasies of a community for so many generations. She was the protectress of Acropolis and her temple (made in 5th century BC; still remains as the best of the monuments of this complex. Athena Parthenon (Athena the virgin) was to the Greeks far more than being a goddess. She was goddess of wisdom, art of weaving (as Athena Ergane), she was goddess to battle (Athena Promachos) and victory (Athena Nike) education and was everything a person wished to attain.
Several Gods; Several Portfolios
Poseidon, Aries, Artemis, Hephaestus, Apollo, Hermes, Aphrodite, Herse, Festia, Demeter were her brothers; all with their own duties as Olympians (the twelve gods who live on the
Xerxes and his revenge!
The Acropolis had the fortune of evading the mass destruction several times but once. It was Xerxes the son of Darius a Persian king who captured Athens (in 480 BC) and entered Acropolis; he ‘succeeded’ in burning it in to ashes before being driven out by the combined army of Greeks. For Xerxes it was a sweet revenge for the defeat Persians suffered in
Too good to resist!
The Acropolis has lured surrounding tribes and numerous wars were fought for its acquisition. The Kylonians conquered and took control of it during the Kylonian revolt. Peristratus conquered it twice and took it over; but he only played a creative role by adding structures to it. Propylaea the monumental colonnaded gate made of marbles; is his addition to the monuments. The
Pericles and the golden age
The time when Pericles ruled is considered as the golden age for the Acropolis; as most of the constructions were made during his time. Phidias; the great Athenian sculptor, Ictinus, Kallikrates were all involved in the reconstruction works of the Acropolis. Erechtheum; a complex of temples of Athena, Poseidon, Erechtheus, Cecrops, Pandrosos, Herse etc all were made during this golden period.
The sacred temple for the Athena Parthenon was constructed after the Greek victory over the Persians on the banks of
A Greek Tragedy
The Greek Gods represented in these temples are related by the myths as follows, Hephaestus once unsuccessfully tried to rape Athena Parthenon; in his vain attempt his semen spilled on her legs. She wiped it by a piece of wool and threw on the earth. This impregnated the Mother Earth (Gaia in Greek) and a child was born by name Erichthonius. Athena wanted to make this child immortal and gave it to her three sisters (Herse. Pandrosus and Aglaulus); packing it in a basket. Athena told them not to open it at any events! But Herse could not withstand her curiosity and one day opened it; what she found was a horrible half-snake child. Seeing such a horrible sight Herse and Aglaulus ran mad and jumped off the Acropolis to death.
The Acropolis being in the middle of the modern city of
A visit that is worth
The Acropolis a World Heritage Site is a crowd puller of tourists from all over the world, even to people who are accustomed of seeing the photographs of the temple of Athena several times the real vision; would definitely a marvelous surprise. It took more than 15 years for its construction and has served as a temple, church and a mosque in its long history. The best time to visit this site is either in winter or in spring when there will be a grass and other plants may be all around and the rocks may not be terribly hot.