Photographer's Note

Glory of the Acropolis

O gentleness! O beauty so simple and real! Goddess, for whom the cult means reason and wisdom, for whom the shrine is an eternal study in conscience and sincerity, belated I arrive at the threshold of your mysteries. There is no salvation for the world, unless it returns to you. - Ernest Renan.

After 450 BC and at the same place the Parthenon is at now, one had started building a temple, the Proparthenon. It was the first big marble temple in Athens, equal in size to the present Parthenon. This temple was destroyed when the Persians took possession of the Acropolis in 480 BC. Later, parts of this temple were used in the wall of Kimon.

Under Pericles and on top of the fundaments of the previous temple, the Tempe of Athena Parthenos was erected and finished between 447 and 432 BC. The architects of this temple, a masterpiece in Greek building art, were Iktinos en Kallikatres. Pheidias, a friend of Percles, had the overall supervision of the construction works on the Acropolis.

In the 6th century AD. the Parthenon became a Christian church, with the addition of an apse at the east end. It next served as a mosque and a minaret was added to it. In 1687, in the Venetian attack on Athens, it was used as a powder warehouse by the Turks and the entire center portion was destroyed by an explosion.

The Parthenon is built with Pentelic marble. It is a Doric temple with Ionic elements. At the east and west facades there are two Doric galleries with six columns. The building is surrounded by a Doric gallery with 8 columns at the short and 17 at the long side.


Except for the fact that the Doric and the Ionic style were used next to each other, there are other elements that make the Parthenon the unique creation it is. In order to get a more satisfying ecstatic effect, the building masters used a few architectonic tricks:

- the horizontal surfaces of the building geometrically are a little convex and not completely flat.
- the columns become smaller to the top en bend towards the middle of the temple.
- the corner columns have a larger diameter then the other columns.
This way the deviation the human eye creates was corrected.

The outside Doric frieze had 92 metopes with figures in relief. On the east side the Gigantomachia or battle with the giants was depicted and on the west side the Amazonomachia or battle with the Amazons. The south side had the Kentauromachia (battle with the centaurs) and the north side showed the capture of Troje. The metopes that survived time are kept in the British Museum, the Louvre, the Acropolis Museum and on the temple itself.

The east pediment showed the birth of Athena from the head of her father Zeus and on the west pediment the battle between Poseidon and Athena was illustrated. The roof of the temple had akrotiria (kind of roof statues) in the form of twined plants.

The frieze of the Parthenon has 360 human figures in total as well as a big number of animals. All move towards the east where the handing over of the peplos takes place in the presence of the Gods and the most important people of the town. In this great composition all acquisitions of the Athenian democracy are melted together.

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Additional Photos by Aimilios Petrou (aimiliospet) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 63 W: 162 N: 486] (2355)
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