The Acropolis of Athens | A Global Symbol of Democracy
Updated: Feb 27
The ancient world had many acropolises. However, "The Acropolis", the one without local designation, is only the Acropolis of Athens. The edge of the ancient city. But what is Acropolis of Athens? It is the sacred rock, on and around which the values of representation and accountability were built. It is the symbol of the principles of democracy. There where power, authority and sovereignty were set to emanate from the people through their vote and be exercised by themselves, serving their interests.
The first foundations of democracy were set in the period 594 - 593 BC from Solon, with the establishment of the parliament of the four hundred, and mainly with the first application of the accountability of the lords through the powerful so called Church of the Municipality. The most essential step, however, was taken by Cleisthenes, who, in 508-507 BC, established the first democratic government of 500 deputies, with a parallel operation of the Church of the Municipality, where the deputies introduced to the citizens the various issues. This function was strengthened with the government of Athens by the great reformer and lover of culture, Pericles, whose government was named "Golden Age". It was then that the ancient culture of the Greeks was expressed in the most ideal way and top monuments were created, mainly within the Acropolis, that define it. Thus, Pericles was rightly described as the founder of Western Civilization.
The Acropolis of Athens History
Life on the Acropolis of Athens Greece began around Neolithic times as a place of residence, worship, or both. Confirmed chronology of worship of the goddess Athena is 650 BC. Many times, the Athenians built temples in her honor, mainly in the place of the current Parthenon, the Apteros Nike and the Erechtheion. There, they honored Athena as a Virgin, Apteros Niki and Poliada. One of them was a porian temple built in 560 BC and was decorated with sculptures on its pediments. You can see them in the old Acropolis Museum which is on the rock plateau. This temple was demolished and, in its place, began in 490 BC, after the battle of Marathon, to build a beautiful marble temple. However, its construction was stopped due to the second invasion of the Persians in Greece and was destroyed by them in 480 BC. However, its construction continued in 448-447 BC as a construction in its current form and became the Acropolis of Athens Parthenon of classical times.
But who built Acropolis of Athens? The plans of the temple belonged to Iktinos and their implementation was undertaken by Kallikrates. They were the two famous architects of the project. The designs of the sculptures and the care of their placement in the monument were assigned to the great sculptor Pheidias. They were introduced by Pericles, who also began the reconstruction of the entire Acropolis. The inauguration of the Parthenon took place in 438 BC, when, with the designs of Mnisiklis, the construction of the Propylae with the amazing architecture began. The Propylae was the beautiful gate to the sacred rock. The sculptures of the Parthenon were placed on the monument in 433 BC.
In the 4th century BC, Lycurgus, as the person in charge of the economic programming and works, essentially remodeled the theater of Dionysus with the use of impressive marbles, because this large theater was started by members of the Peisistratis dynasty in the 6th century. The construction took place in the place of worship of Dionysus and had a capacity of 17,000 spectators. Restoration works have been carried out since 2002.
In 161 AD, at the foot of the hill, the famous conservatory of 5,000 seats was built, at the expense of the wealthy great benefactor, orator and sophist, Tiberius Herod of Attica. The Conservatory is now known as the Herodion.
In the following years, many destructions took place around the sacred rock and its monuments, namely the Acropolis of Athens facts:
• In 267 AD, the Erouli, a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian descent, set fire to the Parthenon, burning parts of it and leaving alive the marks of barbarism on the marbles.
• In the 6th century AD, with the organization of Christian worship, the inhabitants turned the temples into churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
• During the Frankish occupation of the period 1204-1456, the rulers of the new conquerors made the Propylae palace.
• In the period 1456-1833 AD, the Acropolis was used as a fortress by the Ottoman conquerors where in 1458 AD, the Parthenon became a mosque and a minaret was erected in place of the Byzantine bell tower.
• In 1640 AD, when a lightning struck the Erechtheion, the monument was blown up and part of it was destroyed, due to the gunpowder stored inside.
• In 1687 AD, Morosini of the Venetians dropped a bomb and blew up the Parthenon, which had meanwhile been turned into a powder keg, dispersing many of its members.
• Finally, the sculptor Thomas Brooke, Lord Elgin, and British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, tore down much of the sculptures and transported it to England. The British Museum, where the sculptures ended up after Elgin’s unfortunate attempt to sell them, have since stubbornly refused to return them to their natural space and exhibit them, insulting the great legacy of peoples' culture. The place of the orphan sculptures is empty, and Greece and Athens are waiting for them.
For this purpose, and based on the patient waiting for their return and not only, Greece built the Acropolis of Athens Museum, opposite and very close to the sacred rock, a construction of 25,000 sq. m. with exhibition spaces of 14,000 sq.m. The new building of the museum was founded in 2003 and opened its gates to the public on July 21, 2009. On July 20, 2009, the inauguration of the Museum took place in a grand manner. The architects of the project were Bernard Tschumi and Michalis Fotiadis.
The Acropolis of Athens will always inspire the world. For this reason, on the sacred rock of the Acropolis, in the area of Pnyx, Cleisthenes, Themistocles, Aristides, Pericles, Demosthenes, Aeschines, Theodoros Kolokotronis, Andre Marlo, Emmanuel Macron, Barack Obama and many others, delivered speeches of equal – to the monuments’ - importance.
This treasury, of the great values of culture and the dignity of all citizens, is the beacon that will awaken the consciences of the strongest for equal and democratic behavior to all human beings.
Acropolis of Athens Tickets
Full: €20, Reduced: €10
The ticket is valid for the archaeological site of the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora of Athens, the Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, the Archaeological Site of Lykeion, the Hadrian's Library, the Kerameikos, the Museum of the Ancient Agora, the North Slope of the Acropolis, the Olympieio, the Roman Agora of Athens and the South Slope of the Acropolis.
From 1st November till 31st March (1/11-31/03) each year, a reduced rate only for single-use tickets is valid.
There is also a special ticket package of €30 valid for 5 days.
From July 1st, 2019, reduced combined tickets will no longer be issued (if they have been issued before this date, they remain valid).
To purchase tickets online for the archaeological site of the Acropolis and its Slopes, you can visit the official e-ticketing service of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports.
Free admission days are: 6th March (in memory of Melina Merkouri), 18th April (International Monuments Day), 18th May (International Museums Day), the last weekend of September (European Heritage Days), 28th October and every 1st Sunday from 1st November to 31st March.