Greece, a popular tourist destination, is full of numerous ancient structures that have been around for centuries. What is the purpose of these buildings? How have their uses changed as the people living near them have changed? Take a journey with me back in time and I’ll show you.
Our first stop is at the Ancient Acropolis near central Athens, circa 430 BC. Shown here is the Propylaia, which is the western marble entrance that leads to the Parthenon as well as the Erechtheion. Early worshippers would flood the banquet halls after visiting the Parthenon and socialize in the recreation areas in the Propylaia. A picture gallery was also located here that the locals could peruse before worshipping.
Let’s fast forward a little to see what else the Propylaia was used for. In the 6th century AD, it was transformed into a single-aisle, Christian baltica. A tower and southern wing were added during Medieval times since Frankish and Florentine rulers decided to use it as their palaces. The Ottomans used parts of the Propylaia in 1640 to store their gunpowder and…do you hear that? Is that lightning? BOOM! Oh no! The gunpowder exploded! We should get out of here quick!
That was a close one! Well, here we are at our next stop: The Odeon of Herodes Atticus on the southwest of the Acropolis! Built in 161 AD, this stone amphitheater can fit up to 5000 people! Music concerts were held here until 267 AD, when the Heruli destroyed it. (1)
“Hold me closer tiny dancer. Count the headlights on the highway!” That’s right folks, you’re listening to Elton John rock out at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus on his 2000 Medusa Tour! Other famous singers have performed here, including Frank Sinatra who performed two benefit concerts for Athens. During the months of May to October, the theatre is used for Greek and international performances for the Athens Festival. The Miss Universe Pageant was even held here in 1973. (1)
Does anyone have the time? No? Well, it’s a good thing our next stop is: The Horologion of Andronikos of Kyrrhos, also known as the Tower of the Winds, located at the Roman Agora in Athens! This 13.85m high structure built at the end of the 2nd century was used as a “water clock.” Powered by an interior hydraulics system, the structure not only served as a planetarium, but also displayed the time on eight exterior sundials.
Let’s take a look inside shall we? During the Byzantine Period, the Tower of the Winds was converted into a church. The Archaeological Society of Athens started preservation of the building in the late 1830’s.
Checkout that view to the southeast folks! From the Temple of Hephaistos in the Ancient Agora, we can see the Parthenon situated in the Ancient Acropolis. The Temple of Hephaistos was dedicated in honor to Hephaestus, god of metal workers, and Athena Ergane, goddess of potters and crafters. Worshippers used the temple from around 460-415 BC.
Now in the 7th century BC, a different group of people worshipped here! Christians used this temple as the Church of St. George. Later on, Protestants and Philhellenes who perished in the Greek War of independence of 1821 were laid to rest here. It was even used as the official welcome site of King Otto, the first king of the modern Greek state, up to 1834. Today, it is one of the most well preserved temples in Athens and attracts numerous tourists each year.
Whhoooosshhhh Careful not to get swept away by the wind up here folks! We’re here on our last stop in 440 BC at the Temple of Poseidon, dedicated to the god of the sea. The same architect who designed the Temple of Hephaistos designed the temple of Poseidon, so the two building look very similar. Poseidon’s followers would gather here at the Cape of Sounion, south of Athens, to worship and socialize. (2)
The Spartans are coming! The Spartans are coming! Take cover everyone! It’s 413 BC and we’re in the midst of the Peloponnesian War against the Spartans! Walls and a watchtower were added to the Temple of Poseidon to transform it into a fortress. A small naval base was even added to prepare against any attacks from the Spartans. We should get out of here before anything too dangerous happens! (2)
Well folks, we’re back in modern times again. I hope you enjoyed our blast from the past! Make sure to check out plenty of other ancient sites during your stay!
1. “Odeon of Herodes Atticus.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 1 June 2018, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odeon_of_Herodes_Atticus.
2. “Sounion.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 May 2018, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sounion.