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View on the Acropolis from Philopappou HillThe Acropolis
South Side

The south slope of the Acropolis played a significant role in the artistic, spiritual and religious activity of ancient Athens. Important public buildings were erected in the area: the Odeion of Perikles, the sanctuary and theatre of Dionysos, the choragic monuments, the Asklepeion, the stoa of Eumenes and the Odeion of Herodes Atticus.

Recently, architectural members in the orchestra and the retaining wall of the east parodos of the Dionysos Theatre were restored.

Photo gallery Acropolis South photos

Model of the Acropolis and its south slope The South side - as it used to be

'As for our city, according to the will of Zeus and the thoughts of the serene, immortal gods, it will never be destroyed since her protectress, ever so magnanimous daughter of such a father, Pallas Athena, has her hands over it.'

The light and sound show that used to be on the Acropolis The Light and Sound Show

If you would have been in Athens between April and October, and most visitors usually were, then you were fortunate enough to have the chance to catch one of the summer light and sound shows on the Acropolis.

Every evening during this period hundreds of floodlights were directed at the hill and the Parthenon. As well as the lights you would have received a commentary in English detailing Athens’ eventful history. While the Acropolis is impressive at the best of times, this was a particularly good time to see it as it was truly spectacular. Top

The best place to see the show was from Pnyx Hill.

Since 2000 this magnificent spectacle does not take place any longer. According to some the reason is that the lights were damaging for the marble of the monuments on the Acropolis but has never officially been confirmed.

Cranes on the AcropolisCranes on the Acropolis

The conservation interventions made from 1975 onwards on the Acropolis were imposed by the problems mainly due to a series of flawed restorations as well as to fires, war destruction and plundering and earthquakes. Those resulted in the fracturing and fragmentation of the marbles which led to the instability of some parts of the monuments and the danger of their collapse. Last, atmospheric pollution necessitated the removal of the sculpted decoration of the buildings, for safekeeping in the Acropolis museum.

To date, projects for the consolidation of the rock of the Acropolis, the restoration of the Erechtheion, the south wall of the Propylaea and the east front of the Parthenon have been completed. Projects for the restoration of the south circuit wall of the Acropolis, the Parthenon (pronaos, opisthonaos, north face, side walls of the cella), the Propylaia (upper structure of the central building), the temple of Athena Nike, as well as on the Conservation works on the Acropolissurface of the these monuments, the Erechtheion and the west frieze of the Parthenon, are in progress.

Intervention in the unique monuments of Classical Antiquity is a great responsibility involving specialist scientific and technical personnel. In addition to scientific research, specialist knowledge, experience in the field, constant attention during the difficult technical interventions, the conservation, restoration and presentation of the monuments for the future generations demand long-term efforts.

The conservation and restoration of the monuments of the Athenian Acropolis is carried out by the Acropolis Restoration Service under the supervision and scientific direction of the Committee for the Preservation of the Acropolis Monuments in cooperation with the 1st Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. The project is financed jointly by the European Union and the Greek State.

It will take many more years to finish but, when that day comes, the Acropolis and all its classical wonders will be there to admire in full glory for many generations to come. Top

The Acropolis as it used to be The Acropolis - as it used to be

The Acropolis, as well as its slopes, used to have a lot more buildings and temples than can still be seen today. What is left of most of them are the fundaments.

The Temple of Rome and of August is a building dating from the end of the first century BC. It exists of a circularly column gallery with nine Ionic columns. The Sanctuary of Pandion, the son of Erechtheus, is an open air sanctuary from the 5th century BC.

Of course a sanctuary for Zeus, the first under the Gods, could not be absent on the holy rock. As Zeus is God of the skies, he is associated with the mountaintops and thus he was worshiped on the highest point of the Acropolis.

Between the Erechteion and the Parthenon, you will find the fundaments of the archaic Temple of Athena (570-560 BC). The temple was built by the order of Peisistratos and it is associated with the reorganization of the Panathenaic games of 566 BC. In 480 BC it was damaged by the Persians. Afterwards it was partly repaired and from 454 BC on, the treasure of Delos was kept in its cella. East of this Temple there was the altar of Athena Polias and of Erechtheus. The offerings during the Panathenaic games were held here.

The Arrephoroi would stay in the small Arrephorio. Arrephoroi were young Athenian girls who took part in some mysterious ceremonies. The girls would bring so called holy things to the sanctuary of Aphrodite. These were breads shaped as phalluses and snakes. These rites probably were associated to the fertility of nature.

In the old days there used to be a lot of votive presents on the Acropolis. These works of art mostly were statues that would add to the splendors of the holy place. Only the ones that were hidden in caves close to the Acropolis by the Athenians before the Persian raid, still exist. Top

The Theahre of DionysosTheatre of Dionysos

Whereas the Acropolis was the spiritual center, the south slope of the Acropolis has been the intellectual center of Athens since the 6th century BC. When Peisistratos brought the worship of Dionysos to Athens, a sanctuary of Dionysos Eleutherios was built. The small temple contained the wooden statue of the god. In the 4th century BC a gallery was built as well as a new temple holding the golden and ivory statue of Dionysos.

North of the sanctuary, Peisistratos had a circular space constructed for dances to the honor of Dionysos. That space was later used to build the Theatre of Dionysos, originally made of wood but a century later replaced by seats of stone and a permanent stage was added. The theatre was destroyed and rebuilt twice, once in 86 BC by Sulla and again in 267 AD by the Herulae.

The Theatre of Dionysos was the very first theatre in the world. It also was the place were works of the famous classic drama writers were performed.

The Birth of Theatre

Drama was born from Dionysiac rituals and specifically from the dithyramb, a song accompanied by a flute and dancing or mime. Drama maintained the religious character of the dithyramb since it was always presented during celebrations in honor of Dionysos. In satirical drama, the dancers represented satyrs, the companions of the gods.

First theatre in the worldAccording to traditions, around the mid-6th century BC, under the tyranny of Peisistratos in Athens, Thespis, the poet from de deme of Icarios (the modern suburb Dionysos) added a new feature to the traditional dithyramb song by the chorus. He introduced verses in a different rhythm and without melody with which the actor answered the words of the chorus. Thus, Thespis is considered to be the father of tragedy and of theatre in general.

At the same time Peisistratos inaugurated the Great Dionysia (Dionysia in the City), a major religious celebration in honor of Dionysus, which took place at the end of March (in the Attic month Elaphebolion) and lasted initially five, and later, six days. Three, later four, of these days were dedicated to theatrical performance which took place in the Theatre of Dionysos on the southern slope of the Acropolis.

Performances were also given during the other major Dionysiac celebration, the Lenaia. Three poets participated in the final conquest, Sophocleseach with three tragedies and a satirical drama. The appearance and development of dramatic poetry, is a products of democratic Athens per se. Tragic themes were drawn from mythology and yet, in elaborating them, the poet expressed his contemporary Athenians’ problems and anxieties which reflected the organization of the city’s social and political life.

Comedy, on the other hand, took its inspiration from everyday life and social reality. Human superstition and defects, up-to-date political or social events, formed the mythical core of the comedy. Drama theatre reached its peak in the 5th century BC with the three tragic poets Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and the comedian Aristophanes. At the end of the 4th century BC, Menander (342-291 BC) significantly modified comedy and introduced “new comedy” with themes taken from contemporary everyday life.

Opening hours Opening hours and admission Top

The Theatre of Dionysos as it used to be Theatre of Dionysos - as it used to be

Excavations at the sanctuary of Dionysos started in 1838 by the Greek Archaeological Society and lasted for about a century. They brought to light the theatre and the greater part of the sanctuary which includes the two temples of Dionysos.

The excavations at the Odeion of Pericles were carried out almost sixty years ago and revealed a large building with many columns. The excavations, conducted by Kastriotes (1914-1927) and Orlandos (1928-1931), revealed the north side of the building and five column bases at the NE corner.

The excavations at the Asklepieion were conducted in 1875-76 by the Greek Archaeological Service under the direction of St. Koumanoudis and uncovered the Early Christian basilicas and remains of the most important buildings of the sanctuary.

Map of the Theatre of Dionysos

1. Orchestra
5. Kerkides
9. Upper cavea
13. Parodoi
2. Cavea
6. Stairways
10. Proskenion
3. Scene
7. Diazoma
11. Logeion
4. Prohedria
8. Lower cavea
12. Paraskenia

The Stoa of Eumenes

The stoa of Eumenes This stoa was the largest construction on the southern slope of the Acropolis being 162 meter (150 yards) long. It ran to the west of the theatre of Dionysos and today, but not originally, reaches the Odeion of Herodes Atticus.

The stoa was constructed by Eumenes II (197-159 BC), a powerful king of Pergamum. In design it looked very much like the Stoa of Attalos that was built by another king of Pergamum. Like the Stoa of Attalus it was double wide and was two stories high. Above the retaining wall was a peripatos (walkway) that runs around the foot of the hill.

The stoa of Eumenes was built of stacked poros stone and hymettian and pergamene marble. Top

The Theatre of Herodus Attikus The Odeion of Herodes Attikus (Herodeion)

The Stoa (gallery) of Eumenus connected the Theatre of Dionysus with The Odeion of Herodes Attikus. It was the third odeion to be built in Athens 160-157 AD after the Odeion of Perikles and that of Agrippa. It was erected by Herodes in memory of his wife Regilla, who died in 160 AD.

The open space in front of the HerodeionThe Odeion of Herodes Attikus, also known as the Herodeion, is shaped as a semicircular theatre, with a radius of 80 meters (124,5ft) and it can seat around 6.000 people. The facade, 28 meters (91,8ft) high, was massive having a width of 2,40 meters (7,8ft). The wall of the scene was lavishly decorated with architectural marble elements. The public seats also were made of marble and the front of the three-story stage was richly decorated with columns and niches. The roof must have been made of cedar wood.

The Odeion was destroyed during the invasion of the Herulae who also destroyed most of the city's monuments in 267 AD.

Herodes AtticusBust of Herodes Atticus

Herodes Atticus (AD 101/3-177) was a politician, philosopher, sophist and one of the biggest benefactors of Athens. His projects include the Odeon of Athens, the conservations of the stadiums of Athens and Olympia, the construction of the fountain of Regilla at Olympia and the restorations of the Odeon of Corinth.

Openins hours Opening hours and admission Top

The Herodeion as it used to be The Herodeion - as it used to be

The city of Athens' cultural showcase is the two-phase Athens Hellenic Festival, held every summer since 1955 at the magnificent 2000 year old Herod Atticus Odeon.

The ancient tiered theatre nestles at the foot of the Acropolis and during summer and autumn resounds each evening to the tune of symphony orchestras, classical drama and dance and opera performances. The large and varied program of international and Greek artists is available from the Athens Festival office on Location map Stadiou Street or you can see it on our Festivals page.

The summer section of the festival runs from June to July with performances starting at 21:00, while the autumn section covers August and September, with shows starting at 20:30.

Map of the Theatre of Herodes Atticus

1. Orchestra
5. Kerkides
 9. Upper cavea
13. Staircase
2. Cavea
6. Stairways
10. Proskenion
14. Stoa
3. Scene
7. Diazoma
11. Logeion
4. Prohedria
8. Lower cavea
12. Vestibule


     South side - before
     Light and Sound Show
     Cranes on the Acropolis
     The Acropolis - before
     Theatre of Dionysos
     Theatre of Dionysos - before
     Stoa of Eumenes
     Theatre of Herodes Attikus
     Herodeion - before

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