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


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User Reviews

anguis solitary (11 months ago)
The Old Temple of Athena was an Archaic temple located on the Acropolis of Athens between the Older Parthenon and Erechtheion, built around 525–500 BC, and dedicated to Athena Polias, the patron deity of the city of Athens. It was destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC, during the Destruction of Athens. It was located at the center of the Acropolis plateau, probably on the remains of a Mycenaean palace. The complex is sometimes described by the name "Dörpfeld foundations", after the archaeologist who found the location of the temple. It was referred to as "Archaios Neos" (Old Temple) by the Greeks. The foundations suggest the following basic description: the temple measured 21.3 by 43.15 m. It was surrounded by a peristasis of 6 by 12 columns. The difference between column axes was 4.04 m, narrowed by 0.31 m at the corners. The Stylobate was slightly curved, whether this also applied to the superstructure remains unclear. In both the pronaos and opisthodomos, two columns stood between short antae. The main building had two inner sanctums, the east cella and the west cella,which was very short, in fact nearly square, and subdivided into three aisles by two rows of three columns each. It was followed by a pair of side-by-side rooms. The foundations were composed of various materials and constructed in varying techniques. While the load-bearing parts and internal supports were made of blue Acropolis limestone, the foundations of the surrounding peristasis were of Poros limestone. The superstructure and decorative pieces also appear to have been made from a variety of materials, including Poros and Parian marble. The old temple of Athena had two Poros pediments, around 15 m. in length. The surviving pediment depicts Gigantomachy, the struggle between Gods and Giants, eventually won by the Gods. The central figure depicts the goddess Athena wearing an aegis covered with scales and edged by snakes obtained from a monster she previously defeated. She is thought to hit a falling Giant, whose foot is the only remain. Scholars believe that this pediment originally contained a frontal chariot in the center with four horses and Zeus inside one of the chariot, pointing an arrow in the direction of Athena. This images also shows Athena holding a snake and reaching out to a giant. Another figure features a lying giant, whereas two side figures, one was positioned at the corners of the pediment, depict two more falling giants. Other remains ascribed to the temple include an entablature and sima of Parian marble and Poros limestone, capitals with a steep echinus, a marble sculpture depicting a procession, and marble waterspouts in each of the four corners, shaped like lions' and rams' heads.
Vladimir Balaz (12 months ago)
The most intricate and best preserved part of Acropolis. You can see replicas of famous statues in the temple. Most tourists crowd around the Parthenon temple. Crowds are less denser here There is good views of Athens fron this spot.
Dr Dorothy Lobel King (2 years ago)
It’s not really the old temple of Athena, but held the cults of several gods. Very interesting building and definitely exceptionally well re-excavated and studied by Tanoulis.
ANDREA WILSHER (2 years ago)
Mike Rogers (2 years ago)
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