The Roman Agora

roman agora athensThe 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.

When the Roman Agora was completed, this road was decorated with an Ionian stoa. The Romans' concern for luxury and extravagance characterized many of their works. The agora was a large square atrium (yard) which was surrounded by columns of Ionian order. On the one side of the agora, the eastern one, stores were housed. The gate we see is the external part of monumental gate called propylon. This gate is known as the Gate of Athena Archegetis. This is how it mentioned in various inscriptions because it was dedicated in 11/10 BC to the goddess Athena by the demos of Athens. The agora was constructed with the funding of Caesar and Augusts. We learned this by another inscription that was found at the propylon of Athena Archegetis. During Hadrian's rule (2nd century A.D.) an inscription was placed at this gate, that regulated the tax obligations of the oil merchants.

During the Turkish occupation the Gate of Athena Archegetis became known as the Bazaar Gate, because during that period here is where the wheat bazaar took place.


tower of the winds athens tourThis is the most impressive building of the Roman Agora. The Horologion of Andronicos was constructed in the 1st century BC. The building is octagonal because there are eight basic directions of the winds. The bas - relief representations depict the winds with their names. They are "Boreas"(N wind), "Skiron" (NW wind),"Zephyros" (W wind), "Lips" (SW wind) , "Notos" ( S wind) , "Euros"(SE wind), "Apeliotis" (E wind) and "Kaikias"(NE wind). Each of them appears with the characteristics of the whether phenomena it causes. So, "Boreas" is depicted wearing heavy clothes and blowing a foghorn, "Notos" with light clothes and jug dripping water, symbolizing the rain he brings etc. At the top of the building there was a bronze rotating Triton (mythological creature, half man half fish) that pointed towards the direction of the wind. On cloudy days and during nights the clock can't work properly.

What natural element could you use to make a clock that would not depend on the movements of the sun? Andronikos thought of water! The semi circular construction that you have seen in the building was a reservoir that received water from the Klephsydra spring on the Acropolis through a pipe system. This reservoir included a mechanism for measuring the time, which was based on the regular flow of water from one vessel to another. Filling in the empty vessel was completed in 24 hours. Probably with some carved lines and a pointer that rose together with the water, someone could learn what time it was. This is a very simplified explanation of the complex system Andronikos installed in this building. The clock was used as a church during the Christian years and as a tekke during the Turkish occupation.


hadrians library athens tourThe library was a gift of emperor Hadrian (2nd century AD) to the city and was admired by everyone. Pausanias, impressed described the 120 columns made of beautiful stone, the roofs of alabaster, the statues and paintings that adorned the building. Rome's grandeur was reflected in these large works that were presented as gifts to the Greek cities by the emperors and wealth Romans. The library was a square area with stoas all around it. The main library was at the back of the yard, opposite the entrance. To its left and right there are areas that were used as reading rooms.

Today, the area of the Roman Agora is divided from Hadrian's library by modern buildings. However, when they were constructed they formed a unified whole, which occupied the center of ancient Athens.



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