The Temple of Athena
The Temple of Athena, also known as the Parthenon, is one of the most iconic and recognizable structures in the world. Located on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, the temple was built in the 5th century BCE and dedicated to the goddess Athena, the patron deity of Athens.
The construction of the temple began in 447 BCE and was completed in 438 BCE. It was designed by the architects Ictinus and Callicrates, with the sculptor Phidias overseeing the decoration of the temple. The temple was built using Pentelic marble, a high-quality white marble that was quarried from Mount Pentelicus, located about 16 kilometers northeast of Athens.
The Parthenon is a Doric temple, which means that it has a simple, sturdy design with no ornate decorations. The temple is rectangular in shape, with eight columns on the front and back and 17 columns on the sides. The columns are 10 meters high and have a diameter of 1.9 meters at the base. The temple measures 69.5 meters long, 30.9 meters wide, and 13.7 meters high.
The Parthenon is famous for its frieze, which is a decorative band that runs around the top of the temple’s exterior walls. The frieze depicts scenes from the Panathenaic procession, which was a festival held in honor of Athena. The procession included a parade of people carrying offerings to the goddess, as well as musicians, dancers, and athletes. The frieze is 160 meters long and 1 meter high, and it contains 115 individual scenes.
The Parthenon also features several sculptures, including the famous statue of Athena Parthenos, which was located inside the temple. The statue was made of gold and ivory and stood over 12 meters tall. Unfortunately, the statue was lost or destroyed in the centuries following the temple’s construction.
Over the centuries, the Parthenon has undergone several transformations. In the 6th century CE, the temple was converted into a Christian church and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In the 15th century, the Ottomans converted the temple into a mosque and added a minaret to the structure. In the 17th century, the Venetians attacked Athens and caused significant damage to the temple, including the destruction of the roof and several columns.
In the 19th century, the Parthenon became a symbol of Greek independence and national pride. The Greek government began a restoration project in the 20th century, which aimed to repair the damage caused by centuries of neglect and misuse. Today, the Parthenon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year.
Despite its age and the damage it has suffered over the centuries, the Parthenon remains an impressive and awe-inspiring structure. Its simple yet elegant design, combined with its rich history and cultural significance, make it one of the most important and iconic buildings in the world.