The Temple of Athena Nike

temple of athena nikeAfter 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?

The temple was built on a tower that was built as an extension of the Mycenaen walls . This location was of great importance for the defense because the enemy had to turn their right side to the tower and thus remained exposed without shield protection. The temple was dedicated to Athena Nike, who ensured that the defenders would emerge victorious. The temple has four columns on the eastern side and four on the western. The most recognizable element of the Ionic order are the columns, which always have a base, in contrast with the columns of the Doric order. The Ionic capitals are decorated by the characteristic symmetrical volutes.
The temple was built between 427 and 423 BC by the architect Kallicrates and it housed the statue of Athena Nike. A few pieces of the sculpted decoration of the frieze are preserved at the British museum and the Acropolis museum. At the latter you can also see the famous Nike with the sandal. It is carved on a marble plate from the parapet, a type of fence that supported the dangerous edge of the tower. Other representations at the parapet depict Nikes leading cows to be sacrificed.

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