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Propylaea, Athens

4.6
#151 of 729 in Things to do in Athens
The Propylaea was the monumental gateway to the Acropolis of Athens, and was one of several public works commissioned by the Athenian leader Pericles in order to rebuild the Acropolis a generation after 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 Mnesikles, about whom nothing else is known. Construction began in 437 BC and was terminated in 432, when the building was still unfinished.


The Propylaea was constructed of white Pentelic marble and gray Eleusinian marble or limestone, which was used only for accents. Structural iron was also used, though William Bell Dinsmoor analyzed the structure and concluded that the iron weakened the building. The structure consists of a central building with two adjoining wings on the west (outer) side, one to the north and one to the south.


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 (not the size) of the columns of the Parthenon. There is no surviving evidence for sculpture in the pediments.


The central building contains the gate wall, about two-thirds of the way through it. There are five gates in the wall, one for the central passageway, which was not paved and lay along the natural level of the ground, and two on either side at the level of the building's eastern porch, five steps up from the level of the western portico. The central passageway was the culmination of the Sacred Way, which led to the Acropolis from Eleusis.


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. In addition, runaway slaves and other miscreants could not be permitted into the sanctuary where they could claim the protection of the gods. The state treasury was also kept on the Acropolis, making its security important.


The gate wall and the eastern (inner) portion of the building sit at a level five steps above the western portion, and the roof of the central building rose on the same line. The ceiling in the eastern part of the central building was famous in antiquity, having been called by Pausanias (about 600 years after the building was finished) "...down to the present day unrivaled." It consisted of marble blocks carved in the shape of ceiling coffers and painted blue with gold stars.
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4.8
TripAdvisor
  • Propylea is the ornamental imposing entrance to the Acropolis. Part of it is intact. We are left wondering how the Greeks built such imposing structures with huge columns and beams, on top of a hill....  more »
  • The monumental gateway was used in ancient Greek architecture. The typical Greek example is the propylaea that serves as the entrance to the Acropolis in Athens. Walking past begins the adventure of.....  more »
Google
  • Here is the entrance to the Acropolis. depending on the time of the day it can get very crowded. usually around mid day is when its busy and as the sun starts getting closer to the horizon its when there will be a lot less foot traffic. watch your step going up the floor can be very slick especially if it is wet
  • The magnificent entrance to the Acropolis. Was constructed of white marble on 432 BC and was restored the last years. It is 24 meters wide and 18 meters heigh. On the right side there is a small building that used as a gallery with paintings. On the left side there is the older temple of Athena Nike. Highly recommended place.

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