THE HISTORY OF ATHENS
The exciting history of Athens started approximately 6000 years ago, with the arrival of the first pre-Hellenic tribes.
According to the myths, Athens was established through the union of the scattered settlements of Attica under the initiative of king Theseus. The history of Athens was identical, from its very first day, with the history of Attica itself. The timetable that follows presents o brief picture of basic historical periods up to the present day.
Propylaea is the entrance to the sacred rock designed by the architect Mnesicles. Its construction lasted from 437 to 432 BC to be interrupted by the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War (431 BC). In the antiquity there were five entrances between the six columns that you see before you. You can come in from the middle one, the only one in use today. The Propylaea resembles an ancient temple. It consists of three wings, the central and the two side ones which are asymmetrical.
After you have climbed a few stairs towards the Propylaea, stand still and look behind you, towards the propylaea. On the edge of the rock stands a little temple. It is the temple of Athena Nike (Victory) or Apteros Nike, as it was named during the Ronan times. Observe the location of the temple. What is the significance of this location as regards defense against possible intruders? Does this provide you a clue as to why this temple was dedicated to Athena Nike?
On the northern side of Acropolis rock stands the Erechtheion, the last of the buildings that were built during Pericles' era. It was built during the Peloponnesian war, between 421 and 406 BC.
If you walk around the temple you may find it hard to decide which is the entrance and the facade of the temple. The Erechtheion is not an ordinary temple dedicated to a specific divinity. It is a complex building that was constructed to house ancient cults, such as the cult of Athena and Poseidon Erechtheus (a mythical king, son of Earth, who later merged with Poseidon but gave the building it's name).
The Largest and most important building of the Acropolis and the supreme achievement of the ancient Greek architecture. So much has been written about the Parthenon from travelers, poets, writers and Greek loving visitors. The Parthenon was built between 447 And 438 BC by the architects Iktinos and Kallicrates. The sculpture Phidias, Pericles' personal friend, had the general supervision of the project. The Parthenon was constructed with marble from mountain Penteli.
It was built in 160 AD by the wealthy orator and Sophist Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife Reggila. It hosted only music performances. Contrary to the theaters, which hosted theatrical performances and were always open-air places, the odeum of Herodes Atticus was always a sheltered space.
Next to Pericles Odeum stands the theater of Dionysus. Look at the ruins of the theatre and try to imagine it in its entirety. The theatre was associated with the worship of god Dionysus in classical Athens. Theatrical performances took place only as part of Drama contests during the large feast in honor of the god, the city or the Great Dionysia.
The new Acropolis museum is located right across the Acropolis rock, about 300 meters southeast of the Parthenon. In its 3 floors you'll find sculptures from the decoration of the Acropolis buildings and the votive offerings to the goddess Athena. The sculptures are both authentic, transferred from the Acropolis rock in spring 2009, alongside with the cast copies of the marbles that are hosted in the British Museum.
TEMPLE OF OLYMPIAN ZEUS
The temple of Olympian Zeus is one of the most ancient ones, since here was the place of worship of Zeus from the beginning of history. Peisistratus the tyrant, wanted to construct a majestic temple around the end of the 6th Century BC, but in the meantime the tyranny fell from power and his plans were canceled by democratic Athens. This temple was never completed.
The Papanathenaic stadium provides you with a nice opportunity to learn how an ancient stadium of the 4th century BC was. The stadium doesn't look like an ordinary archaeological site. There are no ruins. This stadium was not rebuilt during modern times. However, in 1896, during the first modern Olympic Games, there were works for the renovation of its marble covering. The work was financed by Georgios Averof. The present day shape of the stadium is the same with the ancient stadium of the 4th century BC, as shown by the excavations.
The ancient agora is between two very important areas of ancient Athens: the Acropolis and Kerameikos. Kerameikos was the starting point of the procession of the Panathenaea, which ended up at the sacred rock. Moving ahead from the entrance of Adrianus street towards the Acropolis you walk on the Panathenaea way. You are at the center of ancient Athens! Moving along on the Panathenaea way, on the left side of the road, you can see the area where all the commercial activity of the market used to take place. There were green grocer shops, butcher shops, the fish market, barber shops and perfumeries.
The Romans selected this spot on the 1st century BC to build the Roman Agora, precisely because it lies on a strategic point between the Acropolis, the most important religious and symbolic area of the city and the Ancient Agora, the center of commercial and political life.
The Roman Agora was created as a continuation of the Ancient Agora in order to satisfy the needs of the everyday life of the city. The Ancient Agora was connected with the Roman Agora through a road.
"I hold here the child of my daughter, the beloved one, that I held on my lap when we were alive, and enjoyed the sunlight. Now I hold it dead, I , also dead".
This marble grave stele decorated the tomb of Ampharete. It depicts dead Ampharete with her grand child, who both seem to have died at the same time. On the stele's epigram, Ampharete herself seems to speak and mourn their death. The grave stele is in the museum of Kerameikos. Dating back to 430-420 BC.
According to the legend, Cape Sounion is the spot where Aegeus, king of Athens, leapt to his death off the cliff, thus giving his name to the Aegean Sea. The story goes that Aegeus anxiously looking out from Sounion, despaired when he saw a black sail on his son Theseus's ship, returning from Crete. This led him to believe that his son had been killed in his contest with the dreaded Minotaur, a monster that was half man and half bull. The Minotaur was confined by its owner, king Minos of Crete, in a specially designed labyrinth.
Ancient Corinth is located eighty kilometers west of Athens. Because of this Ancient Corinth was an important crossroad between continental Greece and the Peloponnese, and between the Aegean and the Ionian Sea. Its privileged location, fertile plain and abundant water sources attracted human habitation already from Neolithic Age. The site of ancient Corinth was first inhabited in the Neolithic period (6500-3250 B.C.).
The myth of Perseus says that his grandfather, king Acritius, did not want any heirs. An oracle had told him that if he ever had a grandson, he would be assassinated by him. The king had only a daughter, the very pretty Danae, who he closed in a golden jail with a chaperone lady. One day, Zeus saw her, fell in love with her, transformed himself into a golden rain and dropped in her jail through the window railings. Once all drops went through, Zeus took the shape of a handsome, young man. Danae fell in love with him and they spent a few hours together.
Nafplio is the port of Argos on the Aegean Sea and the best preserved medieval town on mainland Greece. The town of Nafplio was invincible, duo to its castles Palamidi, Ancronafplia and Bourtzi. Nafplio means "port", "Naus" means ship and "pleo" is to sail". In Latin, "Naus" became "nave" and in English "navy" and "nautical". It was inhabited in the Neolithic period, according to the archaeological evidence. Local mythology has it that it took the name "Nafplia" from the hero Nauplios who was its founder. He was the son of Poseidon and Amymone and connected with the Danaid family on his mother's side.
Delphi is Located on a plateau on the side of Mt. Parnassus above the Gulf of Corinth it is about 100 miles northwest of Athens.
For the ancient Greeks it was the navel of Mother Earth, in other words, the center of the world. If we consider that the known world for most of the people then was from the Black Sea through the Aegean and the Mediterranean to Gibraltar, we understand that this belief was more a realistic observation than an arrogant thought.
The most renowned Asklepieion or sanctuary of Asklepios in the Hellenic world, to which people came in hope of a cure from serious illnesses, was located 10 kilometers away from the city of Epidauros. According to myth, King Phlegyas came to Epidauros from Thessaly, in order to reconnoitre the region, with the intention of conquering it.
Olympia a sanctuary of Ancient Greece is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times, comparable in importance to the Pythian games held in Delphi. The Olympic Games were held every four years, dating back to 776 BC. In 394 A.D. emperor Theodosius II abolished them as they were then considered reminiscent of paganism. The first Olympic Games were in honor of Zeus.