The Acropolis | Attraction Guides | History Hit

The Acropolis

Attica, Attica, Greece

History Hit

16 Feb 2021

About The Acropolis

The Acropolis is one of the most recognisable historic sites in the world and remains an inspirational monument to the achievements of Ancient Greek civilisation.

Acropolis history

Standing tall above the Greek city of Athens, the Acropolis contains a number of buildings and monuments from Greek Antiquity, including the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Propylaia and the temple of Athena Nike.

The majority of sites on the Acropolis were constructed in the 5th century BC, during the ‘golden age’ of Athens and under the stewardship of Athenian statesman Pericles. After the original site was burned to the ground in 480 BC during the Persian Wars, the Athenians set to re-building their city with monuments that would bear testament to the greatness of their state. A key building material for these monumental structures was Pentelic marble, mined from Mount Pentelicus in south east Attica. The Panathenaic procession, ancient Athens’ most important festival, ended at the Acropolis.

The Acropolis continued to be developed throughout the Hellenistic, Macedonian and Roman periods. After the area became Christianised, the Acropolis complex was largely converted for use as a Christian centre, with the Parthenon serving as a Cathedral.

However, by the early Middle Ages, the Acropolis was more frequently used as a defensive fortification by the various occupiers of the city. During a battle between Venetian and Ottoman forces in 1687, the Parthenon suffered severe damage which was never repaired.

These impressive monuments have largely stood the test of time through invasion, conquest and war and the Acropolis stands as one of the greatest historic destinations in the world.

Acropolis today

Today, the Acropolis is an extremely popular historic site and caters for a multitude of tourists every year. The recently opened Acropolis Museum, which lies nearby, contains an amazing array of displays and artefacts from the Acropolis itself.

Much of the art that adorned the Parthenon can now be seen at the British Museum, after the marbles were removed from the Acropolis by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century. Empty spaces have been pointedly left at the Acropolis Museum, demonstrating Greece’s immediate capability to house and care for the Elgin Marbles, should they be returned to Greece from the British Museum.

The Acropolis was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

Getting to the Acropolis

The Acropolis is situated right at the heart of modern Athens. Access to the site is served by several metro stations and a few entrances. The main Metro station is called Acropoli.

Many visitors walk to the top of the Acropolis and it is better to reach the site early, so as to avoid the busiest times.

To make the site more accessible, there is also a wheelchair-friendly elevator that can take visitors to the top of this must see attraction.

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