The Acropolis is one of the most famous monuments in Greece. This ancient citadel overlooks the city of Athens. It contains the remains of several important ancient buildings, for instance, the Parthenon. Constructed during the second half of the 5th-century BC, the Acropolis is over 2,500 years old. With such a rich history there is so much to know about this remarkable place. Ready to start learning? Here are 7 interesting facts about the Acropolis of Athens, Greece.
7 Interesting Facts about the Acropolis of Athens, Greece
1. The Acropolis is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site
An ‘acropolis‘ is any citadel or complex built on a high hill. The word acropolis comes from the Greek words ἄκρον, meaning “highest point, extremity” and πόλις, meaning “city”. This generic term describes a little city and there are many acropoleis throughout Greece. However, the one in Athens is the most famous. It is the signature landmark of the city. UNESCO listed the Acropolis as a World Cultural Heritage site in 1986 and millions of tourists come each year to see it.
2. Pericles started the construction of the Acropolis
The Acropolis of Athens is located on the Attica plateau, a limestone outcrop above the city. It includes four hills: the Likavitos hill, the Philopappos hill, the hill of the Nymphs, and the Pnyx. Evidence shows inhibition of the hill since at least the fourth millennium BC. However, the coordinated construction of the citadel didn’t take place until the 5th-century BC. Pericles, an Athenian statesman, is largely responsible for the full development of the Acropolis.
3. The Acropolis is home to ancient buildings
The Acropolis of Athens is home to the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. These ancient buildings are of great architectural and historic significance. Both the Acropolis and the Parthenon are visible from almost every spot in Athens.
4. The Parthenon is a temple to the goddess Athena
The Parthenon is regarded as the finest example of Greek architecture. Construction began on The Parthenon during what is known as the classical period (450-330 BC). The Parthenon is a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena however, it also served as the treasury of Athens. Following this, the Christians converted it into a church and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary.
5. There was a colossal statue of Athena Promachos
Inside the Parthenon, there once stood a colossal statue of Athena Promachos (champion). The statue was 9 metres high and symbolised the victory and the strength of the Athenians over the Persians. Pheidias, the statue’s sculptor, placed a shield in her left hand and a spear in her right one. Emperor Theodosius stole the statue and brought it to Constantinople in the year 426 AD. In 1204, inhabitants of the city destroyed the statue. They believed the statue was to blame for a crusader invasion they suffered.
6. Greece wants the Parthenon Marbles returned
Much of the ornamentation and art is now gone from the Acropolis. Some of the artefacts are housed in museums. One controversial museum piece is the Parthenon Marbles. Thomas Bruce the 7th Earl of Elgin and a British ambassador took this collection of Classical Greek marble sculptures. Lord Elgin said he had permission to do so from the Turkish authorities. These are now on display at the British Museum of London. The Greek government has demanded the return of the Parthenon Marbles. They want to display them at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.
7. There are Parthenon Carvings across the world
If you can’t make it to Athens to see the Parthenon, you can see some of the original carvings in museums all over the world. You can see original carvings at the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris, and the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.