Temples and Sanctuaries, Acropolis
The famous Parthenon, temple of Athena, was built between 447 and 338 B.C. This symbol of Greece has served many purposes over the centuries, including a Christian church and a Turkish mosque.
The Erechtheion contains a number of ancient sanctuaries. One of the most recognizable features is the Porch of the Caryatids, with figures of maidens used as columns.
Temple of Athena Nike
At the Acropolis there is an ancient sanctuary dedicated to Athena as the bringer of victory (Nike) on the spur of rock on the south side of the Propylaia - a rocky platform outside the Mycenaean walls.The temple was built in 432-421, after the completion of the Parthenon and the Propylaia. It has four lonic columns at the north and south ends. The form of the column bases and capitals was already old-fashioned at the time of the erection, leading Carpenter to suggest that after the end of the Periclean period the earlier design by Kallikrates was used.In Turkish times (1686) the temple was thrown down to use the bastion as an artillery position, from which Ludwig Ross disengaged it in 1836.Re-erected at the time, and again after consolidation work between 1936 and 1940, it is the daintiest and most elegant building on the Acropolis. Its lonic forms contrast with the Doric massiveness of the Propylaia and with the ancient masonry of the "Pelasgian" (i.e. Mycenaean) defensive walls which can be seen to the east.The Acropolis Museum contains the balustrade from the temple platform, with relief figures of Athena and several representations of Nike (Victory).
Old Temple of Athena
The Old Temple of Athena, also known as the Hekatompedon because its cella measured 32.8m/100ft by 16.4m/50ft, was built in the early sixth century B.C. within the precincts of the Mycenaean royal palace of the 14th century B.C. (now represented only by two column bases from its megaron, protected by gratings). The cella had no surrounding colonnade.The great pediment of poros limestone in the Acropolis Museum probably came from this temple; it depicts in the center bulls being attacked by lions, on the left Herakles and Triton, on the right a monster with three bodies (Nereus?).Around 525 B.C. Peisistratos built a temple with a colonnade of 6 by 12 columns, either a reconstruction of the Hekatompedon or an entirely new structure. In the pediment figures, depicting Athena in a fight with giants, marble was used for the first time on the Acropolis.This "Old Temple" superseded the Hekatompedon as the sanctuary of Athena Polias and took over the old wooden cult image of the goddess.The temple was destroyed by the Persians in 480 B.C. together with all the other buildings of the Archaic period. In 406 B.C. the remains were razed to the ground after the transfer of the cult image to the new temple of Athena in the eastern part of the Erechtheion.The foundations of the temple were brought to light in the 19th century; they can be seen immediately south of the Erechtheion.
In the obtuse angle between the Erechtheion and the Old Temple of Athena at Acropolis is the Pandroseion, a shrine named after Pandrosos, daughter of the first king of Athens, Kekrops, and sister of Herse and Aglauros, to whom one of the sacred caves on the north side of the Acropolis was dedicated.The sanctuary was a rectangular courtyard enclosed by walls in which stood an altar of Zeus Herkeios (protector of the hearth) and no doubt also a small temple of Pandrosos. It was probably here too that the sacred snakes of the Acropolis were kept.At the southeast corner was an access to the tomb of Kekrops. Here too grew the sacred olive-tree presented to the city by Athena after her victory over Poseidon in the contest for the land of Attica. Herodotus (VIII, 55) tells us that on the day after the destruction of the Acropolis by the Persians in 480 B.C. a fresh shoot a cubit long had sprung from the trunk of the burned tree, giving an assurance of the continued survival of Athens. The memory of this olive-tree is perpetuated by a new tree planted here in modern times.
Sanctuary of Eros & Aphrodite
Numerous votive tablets found in caves on the northern face of the Acropolis indicate that there was a sanctuary of Eros and Aphrodite here.In this area (below the Erechtheion to the northeast, outside the walls) stood the "temple of Aphrodite in the gardens" mentioned by Pausanias - to be distinguished from a temple of the same name, but probably of later date, on the Ilissos. This temple could be reached from the Acropolis by a flight of steps still visible northeast of the Erechtheion.
In the sixth century B.C. Peisistratos brought the cult of Artemis to Athens from his home town of Brauron, and a sanctuary dedicated to this Artemis Brauronia was built in the southwest part of the Acropolis, within the Propylaia and the "Pelasgian" wall.The altar and the cult statue, by Praxiteles, stood in an open courtyard with colonnades on the south and east sides.The sanctuary was given its final form by Mnesikles when he built the Propylaia.
Sanctuary of Athena Hygieia
Among the many sanctuaries which lie within the walls of the Acropolis and have left traces in the limestone of the crag, was one sacred to Athena Hygieia.Beside the southern column of the east portico of the Propylaia is the semicircular base which once supported a bronze statue of the goddess. Opposite it is the square foundation of the altar. This sanctuary was built following the plague of 429 B.C., in which Pericles numbered among its victims.
About 450 B.C. a hall was built immediately adjoining the Brauronion at Acropolis for the safe-keeping of bronze votive offerings and weapons, and after 432 a colonnade was built along the north wall. Adjoining this was a flight of steps hewn from the rock leading up to the Parthenon, originally decked with numerous votive offerings, including a representation of the Trojan Horse.
Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus
Northeast of the Parthenon and north of the temple of Rome and Augustus is the highest point on the Acropolis, which was occupied by the sanctuary of Zeus Polieus, an open cult precinct (temenos) containing an altar and a stable for the sacrificial animals (Boukoleion). The only remains of the sanctuary are cuttings in the rock.
Temple of Rome & Augustus
In 27 B.C. the Romans built, outside the east end of the Parthenon and on its central axis, a circular temple on a square tufa substructure. The roof was borne by nine Ionic columns, with capitals painstakingly modeled on those of the Erechtheion. The temple contained statues of Rome and Augustus, to whom it was dedicated.