A propylaea means an monumental gateway in ancient Greek architecture. Entrance into the Acropolis was controlled by the Propylaea. Though it was not built as a fortified structure, it was important that people not ritually clean be denied access to the sanctuary. It was one of several public works commissioned by the Athenian leader Pericles in order to rebuild the Acropolis hill at the conclusion of the Persian Wars. Pericles appointed his friend Phidias as the supervisor and lead architect of this massive project, which Pericles allegedly financed with funds appropriated from the treasury of the Delian League. According to Plutarch, the Propylaea was designed by the architect Mnesicles, about whom nothing else is known. Construction began in 437 BC and was terminated in 432, when the building was still unfinished.

The Propylaea survived intact through the Greek, Roman and Byzantine periods. During the period of the Duchy of Athens, it served as the palace of the Acciaioli family, who ruled the duchy from 1388 to 1458. It was severely damaged by an explosion of a powder magazine in 1656, foreshadowing the even more grievous damage to the Parthenon from a similar cause in 1687. A Frankish tower, erected on the south wing, was pulled down in 1874.

The core is the central building, which presents a standard six-columned Doric façade both on the West to those entering the Acropolis and on the east to those departing. The columns echo the proportions of the columns of the Parthenon.

The Greek Revival Brandenburg Gate of Berlin and the Propylaea in Munich both evoke the central portion of the Athens propylaea.

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Acropolis, Athens, Greece
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Founded: 437 BC
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Greece

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4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ryan Daniel (3 years ago)
Impressive area with a great historical perspective
Itay C. (3 years ago)
Essentially the gateway to the Acropolis. Quite impressive and really prepared you to enter the Acropolis complex. Don't miss the temple of Athena Nike on the far right, which is a distinct building in the complex.
Jan Torfs (4 years ago)
Unique and very promising entrance to thé Acropolis. Greek used to construct this way and give more importance to the main building coming afterwards. Spectacular views with Thé Parthenon and thé Erechtheion Temple when you advance and a 360 view over Athens and thé complete area when you look back over your shoulder.
Jose Lejin P J (4 years ago)
This is the beautiful entrance to the Acropolis. Nice architecture. Be careful with the slippery stones. A propylaea is any monumental gateway in ancient Greek architecture. The prototypical Greek example for this is the propylaea that serves as the entrance to the Acropolis of Athens.
Bagas Syafaad H (4 years ago)
This was the very impressive entrance to the Acropolis. I think the first time I visited here I didn't pay much attention to it as I was eager to get to the Parthenon, however, this time I used the Rick Steves audioguide and he did an excellent job of describing it and discussing its significance.
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Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.