Pláka Archaeological Sites, Athens
Roman AgoraThere are a number of archaeological sites in the Plaka area.
Tower of the Winds (Creek of Andronicos)
The Tower of the Winds stands in the Pláka below the north side of the Acropolis. In the planning of the modern city of Athens in the 19th century. Eólou Street, named after the wind god Ailos, was aligned directly on the tower, which forms a landmark at its southern end.Built about 40 B.C., the tower is an octagonal structure 12m/40ft high, with sundials on the external walls; it originally housed a water-clock.Around the top runs a frieze with reliefs representing the eight wind gods - the beardless Notos, pouring out rain from an urn (south); Lips, holding the stern ornament of a ship (southwest); Zephyros, a youth scattering flowers (west); Sykron the bringer of snow (northwest); the bearded Boreas, blowing into a shell (north); Kaikias, also bearded, the bringer of hail (northeast); Apeliotes, a young man bearing ears of corn and fruit (east); and Euros, wrapped in a cloak (southeast).To the south of the tower is a building of the Roman period (first century A.D.) with the springing points of arches. Its function is uncertain (office of the market police, Caesareum?).Adjoining the entrance to the excavated area is a marble latrine with seating for nearly 70.The water-clock is located outside the western entrance to the Roman Market. It served as a form of meteorological station by combining a sundial, a waterclock and a weathervane showing the direction of the wind.The clock is commonly known as "Aerides" (the winds).
Address: Eolou / Pepopida Street, Greece
Monument of Philopappos (Filopapou Hill)
From Dionysíou Areopagítou Street, at the point where it joins Apostólou Pávlou Street, a road branches off and goes up to a parking place on the far side of the hill. From here a path runs east along the rocky hill to the prominent monument of Philopappos, a prince of Commagene (southeast Anatolia) who was banished to Athens by the Romans and died there in A.D. 116. In gratitude for his munificence the Athenians allowed his ostentatious tomb to be erected on this exceptional site - an honor, it has been remarked, that was not granted even to a man like Pericles in the great days of Athens.On the frieze around the base Philopappos is shown in the guise of a Roman consul, mounted in a chariot and accompanied by lictors. Above this are seated figures of the dead man and (to the left) Antiochos IV, his grandfather.On the way to (or from) this monument of the personality cult under the Roman Empire, there can be seen some remains of the diateichisma, the intermediate wall built in 337 B.C. to shorten the defensive lines between the Long Walls. Here too are various cisterns and rock-cut chambers, one of them traditionally misnamed the Prison of Socrates (now identified to the southwest of the Agora).
Roman Agora and the Library of Hadrian
The Roman Agora or market was laid out at the beginning of the Christian era immediately west of the Tower of the Winds, built some decades earlier. It was connected with the older Greek Agora to the west by a road which was discovered some years ago. While the Greek Agora grew and developed over the centuries, this later market was laid out on a unified plan within a rectangular area measuring 112 by 96m/365 by 315ft.It has two gates: at the west end a Doric propylon built between 12 and 2 B.C. with an inscription recording that the market was dedicated to Athena Archegetes, and at the east end an Ionic propylon probably dating from the reign of Hadrian (A.D. 117-138), when the adjoining Library of Hadrian was also built. Probably dating from the same period are the double-aisled colonnades of slender unfluted Ionic columns which surround the market, as well as the shops and offices which open off thecolonnades. On the south side is a fountain.
Address: Eolou / Pepopida Street, Greece
Library of Hadrian
Parallel to the Roman Agora, only 16m/50ft away, is another complex of similar character but different function - the Library of Hadrian, founded by the emperor of that name after A.D. 132. This was a colonnaded court measuring 122 by 82m/400 by 270ft, with exedrae (semicircular recesses) in the external walls.The entrance was on the west side, and part of this, richly decorated with Corinthian columns and a four-column propylon, has been preserved.It faces onto Areos Street, which runs south from Monastiráki Square past the old Sindrivani Mosque (now housing the Museum of Ceramics).The modern entrance to the site is at the east end, in Eólou Street.The central room in the east range of buildings, much of which is still standing, was the actual library, and the niches in which the book rolls were kept can still be recognized.The building as a whole was not designed, like the Roman Agora, for business purposes, and the spacious courtyard was laid out as a garden, with a pool in the middle. The columns and other architectural fragments now to be seen in the courtyard came from the Megáli Panayía church, which was built in the fifth C. on the site of the original pool.
Address: 1 Venizelou, Greece
The Pnyx 110m/361ft is one of the range of three hills - the others being the Hill of the Nymphs and the Hill of the Muses - to the southwest of the Acropolis. After the reform of Kleisthenes (508-507 B.C.) the Ekklesia, the popular assembly of Athens, met here, before moving to the Theater of Dionysos in the fourth century B.C. Here men like Themistocles addressed the people of Athens.There are remains of the rock-cut orators' platform, with the altar of Zeus (ca. 400 B.C.) behind it; the retaining wall (ca. 330 B.C.), built of huge blocks of stone, which supported the semicircular auditorium on the north, and the diateichisma, the wall built in 337 B.C. to shorten the line of the city's defenses. Along the west side are the rows of seating for the spectators of the son et lumière shows which now take place here. Near the Ayios Dimitrios is a pretty woodland cafe.
Hill of the Nymphs
At the western end of the chain of hills which runs southwest of the Acropolis is the Hill of the Nymphs, easily identifiable by the domed Observatory on the summit. It is reached by way of a side street off Apostólou Pávlou Street. The Classical-style Observatory was built by Theophil Hansen in 1843-46 to the design of Schaubert. To the right of the entrance are the remains of the ancient sanctuary of the Nymphs from which the hill takes its name - a levelled rock surface and a dedicatory inscription. This level platform on the highest point of the hill was chosen by Ferdinand Stademann in 1835 as the viewpoint from which to draw his "Panorama of Athens" (republished 1977).To the southeast the Hill of the Nymphs merges into the Pnyx. From both hills there are fine views of Athens.
Hill of the Muses
The Hill of the Muses is part of a chain of low hills to the southwest of the Acropolis, the others being the Pnyx and the Hill of the Nymphs. From the top of the hill (147m /482ft) there is the classic and beautiful view of the Acropolis, with Lykabettos rearing up behind.
Church of St Demetrius
The little church of St Demetrius stands in the gardens on the northeast side of the Hill of the Muses, on the right of the road which runs up to the parking place on the hill. It contains attractive wall paintings. With its large courtyard, this is one of the churches most frequented by the people of Athens on the occasion of church festivals and processions.