Ancient Agora

ancient agora tourThe 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.

At the agora was the principal court of the state, the Eliaia the 6000 judges that were elected from the ten tribes of Athens in the Agora museum. Leaving the Panathenaea way and moving towards the right side of the Agora, you can see the remains of the stoas that were there. The stoas were constructed during the Hellenistic times. After you have crossed the southern part of the Agora with the stoas you will reach the western part, near tholos. You could not go any further if you were not an Athenian citizen! At this point started with the public administrative buildings and the center of the political life. Entrance was forbidden to those that were not Athenian citizens. Tholos was the seat of the administrative power. Here lived the Prytaneis, the 50 members of the parliament who assumed the administration for 1/10 of the year. Here Prytaneis ate and lived, for as long as their tribe ruled and here they kept all the official measures and weights. All merchants had to use the same measures and weights as the official ones. You will see some of them at the Agora museum. You will find the Bouleuterion behind Tholos. Here, the Council of 500, the representatives of the ten tribes of Athens, convened. The Metroon (archives), to the right of Tholos, is the building with the oblong stoa and the Ionic columns at the facade. Here they kept the state's archives and here Athenian men were registered when they became 18 years old so as to become citizens. The Metroon owes its name to the mother of Gods, Cybele, who was worshiped in this building. Eponymoi Heroes are in front of the Metroon, to the eastern side. On this oblong pedestal were placed the statues of the mythical figures, from which the ten Athenian tribes took their names. Under each statue they hung the decisions that had to do with the particular tribe.


The Stoa was a wonderful invention of Ancient Greek architecture, which was adopted and used extensively by the Romans. In its most simplified form it had a roof supported by columns on the front side and by walls on the other sides. The stoa was loved and became very popular in Ancient Greece because it provided shelter to the multitude of people that assembled in agoras, theaters and stadiums. These areas were outdoors. So, we can say that the stoa was the only shelter in the out door life of the ancient Greeks. Under its roof, citizens assembled to comment on current issues and philosophers found people ready to listen to their teaching. But soon the stoas developed further. They added rooms on the rear and many became two storey, impressive buildings. Many merchants settled in these areas and opened stores. So the stoa became a kind of commercial center. If you walk around the Ancient agora you will see the ruins of some of the many stoas that were built here. But the Stoa of Attallos was the most magnificent of all. It was built in 159-138 BC as a gift of Attalos II, the king of Pergamum. It was the period where Hellenistic kingdoms flourished under the rule of the Attalid family, for example the Kingdom of Perfamum. The important families of the Helenistic world admired the culture of ancient Athens and wanted to somehow relate their name with Pericles' city. They managed to achieve their objective through their wealth. They made substantial donations to the city, like this stoa.


The Ancient Agora, already from Solon's period (6th century BC) started to become the center of public, commercial and political life. However, before this period, during the Mycenaean and Geometric periods, this area was used as a residential area and as a cemetery. There are many findings at the museum that come from tombs found here but also from the public, commercial and religious life that developed in Agora from its heyday, in the Classical Period, to the Byzantine Period when in the 13th century, the area of the Agora begun to be reconstructed.


The architect of the temple is unknown. The temple of Hephaestus dominates in the area of the agora. It is on the hill named "Kolonos Agoraios". Hephaestus was the god of fire and iron works. Together with Athena they were worshipped as the gods of arts and crafts and particularly as the protectors of metallurgists and potters. So, it is not surprising that in this area used to be, and still is, full of workshops of metallurgists. Hephaestus street, at Monastiraki, keeps the memory of the protector god of ironsmiths of the area alive.

The temple is called "Peripteros" what surround it and gives it this characterization?
Peripteros: is the temple that is surrounded by "ptero", a series of columns on all its sides.
Pronaos: the first area in the entrance of the main temple.
Opisthodomos: the corresponding room on the rear of the cella.

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