Things to Do in Athens
Image courtesy of Deposit Photos
It is agreed upon by historians and classicists the world over that the Parthenon, the original temple of tribute to the goddess Athena on the Acropolis, is the singularly most important building left standing (at least partially) from the time of Classical Greece. The Acropolis itself is a must-see for visitors to Athens, Greece, but time spent in the majestic shadow of the Parthenon is a step back into human civilization.
The Parthenon has suffered a long and often destructive history since it was first erected beginning in 447 BC, and completed in 432. Designed in the Doric style, the most simple and elegant of the three columnar varieties, the building was dedicated to Athens’ patron goddess and also used as the city treasury. From there, things went downhill.
As factions fought for possession of nations and riches, the city of Athens and its Parthenon changed hands a few times, and the Parthenon got in the middle of many a skirmish, resulting in significant damage. In 276 AD a band of Heruli pirates sacked parts of Athens, the Parthenon included. From its Pagan inception, it was for a time in roughly 500 AD a Christian Church. There were fires, including a substantial one that did extensive damage. By the mid-1400s the Ottomans had conquered Athens and usurped the Parthenon; it was now an Islamic temple. And in 1687, in its newest role as a munitions storehouse for the Ottomans, it was bombarded under siege by Venetians and the south end was wrecked. Then in the early 1800s, an English earl (Elgin) brought the Parthenon marbles (a vast collection of sculptures and friezes, then renamed the Elgin Marbles) to England, where they remain, currently housed in the British Museum; Greece wants them back.
Not only is the Parthenon an important building, it is controversial, and as of 2020, will be fully restored back to its original glory, albeit minus its original marbles. Visitors still view the building, despite it having been clad in repair scaffolds for many decades.
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