Erechtheion

Athens, Greece

The Erechtheion is an ancient Greek temple on the north side of the Acropolis of Athens which was dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon.

The temple as seen today was built between 421 and 406 BCE. It may have been built in honor of the legendary king Erechtheus, who is said to have been buried nearby. Erechtheus was mentioned in Homer's Iliad as a great king and ruler of Athens during the Archaic Period, and Erechtheus and the hero Erichthonius were often syncretized. It is believed to have been a replacement for the Peisistratid temple of Athena Polias destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC.

The Erechtheion underwent extensive repairs and reformation for the first time during the 1st century B.C., after its catastrophic burning by the Roman general Sulla. The intact Erechtheum was extensively described by the Roman geographer Pausanias, writing a century after it had been restored in the 1st century AD. The building was altered decisively during the early Byzantine period, when it was transformed into a church dedicated to the Theometor. With this alteration many architectural features of the ancient construction were lost, so that our knowledge of the interior arrangement of the building is limited. It became a palace under Frankish rule and the residence of the Turkish commander's harem in the Ottoman period.

In 1800 one of the caryatids and the north column of the east porch together with the overlying section of the entablature were removed by Lord Elgin in order to decorate his Scottish mansion, and were later sold to the British Museum (along with the pedimental and frieze sculpture taken from the Parthenon). During the Greek War of Independence the building was bombarded by the Ottomans and severely damaged, the ceiling of the north porch was blown up and a large section of the lateral walls of the cella was dismantled. The Erechtheum went through a period of restoration from 1977 to 1988.

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Acropolis, Athens, Greece
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Details

Founded: 421-406 BCE
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Greece

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4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Will K (2 years ago)
What a beautiful building on top of the Acropolis. Sure, it may not be as majestic or well known as the Parthenon, but it’s certainly more intact. My wife and I took more time here since it’s less crowded. A truly stunning site with the ladies at the center.
Stephanie Andersen (2 years ago)
Must see. Highly recommend using closed toe shoes. Very windy. Very cool!!
Robert Chomicz (2 years ago)
The Athenian acropolis is a fairly disappointing experience but the magnificent Erechtheion temple is what rescues it indeed. Beautiful from every angle, even if crawling with tourists and photographers. I spent more time here than at the Parthenon. If you wait for the sunset you will be rewarded with perhaps the greatest sight in Athens. I could not recommend it enough.
Lynn Lin (2 years ago)
We had an one day tour and came by morning which it’s a mistake because all group tours come in the morning before 13.00. Its really better to come in the afternoon. But, the tour itself its good because the tour guide is very good. We book the trip via Headout but the tour was organized by KEYTOUR.
L C (2 years ago)
This elegant building of the lonic order is called, according to later literary sources, Erechtheion from the name of Erechtheus, the mythical king of Athens. The construc- tion started before the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War (431 B.C.) or after the conclusion of the "peace of Nikias" (421 B.C.) and was finished in 406 B.C., after the interruption of the works because of the war. The peculiar plan of the building is due to the natural irregularity of the ground and the need to house the ancient sacred spots: the salt spring, which appeared when Po- seidon struck the rock with his trident during the contest with Athena over the pa- tronage of the city, the trident marks and the tombs of the Athenian kings Kekrops and Erechtheus. The Erechtheion consists of a rectangular cella divided by an interior wall forming two sections. The eastern section, which was at a level at least 3 m. higher than that of the western, was dedicated to Athena Polis and housed the xoanon, the ancient wooden cult statue of the goddess. The western section was divided into three parts and was dedicated to the cult of Poseidon-Erechtheus, Hephaistus and the hero Boutes. At the north side of the cella there is a magnificent porch with 6 lonic columns. The bases and capitals along with the frame of the doorway leading to the interior of the cella, have elaborate relief decoration, while the ceiling coffers were painted. The famous Porch of the Maidens (Korai) or Caryatids dominates the south side of the building: six statues of young women, standing on a podium 1.77 m. high, support the roof of the porch, which was the part of Kekrops' tomb above the ground. At the upper part of the building is a frieze of grey Eleusinian stone to which relief fig- res of white Parian marble were attached. Today they are exhibited in the Acropolis Museum. Around the end of the Ist century B.C. the Erechcheion was repaired after a fire. During the Christian period it was transformed into a church, while in the Ottoman period it was used as a house. In the first years of the 19th century Lord Elgin carried off the third Caryatid from the west (Kore C) and the column of the northeast corner of the building. Today they have been replaced by copies, as well as the rest of the Caryatids.
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