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.

References:

Comments

Your name



Address

Acropolis, Athens, Greece
See all sites in Athens

Details

Founded: 437 BC
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Greece

Rating

4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

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.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.