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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User Reviews

Ryan Daniel (2 years ago)
Impressive area with a great historical perspective
Itay C. (2 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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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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