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Archaeological Sites
The Ancient Agora of Athens
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This open area that was very busy since the prehistoric period spreads at the northwest part of the Acropolis. In the antiquity it was the centre of ancient Athens and the focus of the commercial, social, administrative, educational and cultural activity. The original name of the area is Keramikos that was maintained until the Roman Times. The name Agora derives from the ancient Greek verb ‘αγείρω’ that means collect and was attributed since this was the Athenians meeting point. The excavations started in 1931 by the American School of Classic Studies and are still going on.

Short History

Prehistoric and Macedonian Periods (3500B.C.-1100B.C.)

The area that constitutes now the archaeological site of Agora has been occupied since the Late-Stone Age; as the tombs and the vessels from the excavations indicate. The archaeological research has brought into light tombs (mainly chambered) that date to the Macedonian period.

Archaic Period (600B.C.-480B.C.)

The most significant change in the area was realized around 600B.C. when Solon transferred here the ancient Agora that was located western from the Acropolis. Later, the wall that Peisistratus constructed divided Kerameikos in half; the inner Kerameikos (Athens’ political centre) and the outer Kerameikos (burial area).

At Clisthenes’ times and since the democracy had been established there were erected many public buildings to cover the needs of the ancient Athenians. The citizens gathered in the free space between the new constructions and organized various cultural happenings and sports’ events.

The most important buildings of this period stood at the east side of Panathinea Street. These are: The Altars of the 12 Gods and the Leokorion, Zeus’ Temple, Apollo’s Patroou Temple, Metroon, Vouleftirio, Prytaniko, Eakio (the yard of the parkland) and the southeast fountain.

All these buildings were destroyed during the Persian invasion in 479B.C.

Classical Period (479B.C.-323B.C.)

After the Persian destructions and mainly at Pericles’ period, Agora gained its lost glory with new constructions. The most significant structures of this period are: Stoa of Zeus Eleftheros (next to the homonymous temple), Royal Stoa (Vasileios), Stoa Poikili, South Stoa I (shops and catering facilities), Tholos (the dining room of the elected), New Vouleftirio, the Courts’ Yard, Elefsinion (Dimitra’s and Persephone’s sanctuary) and the Temple of Hephaestus at the hill of Agoreos the Kolonos.

Hellenistic Period (323B.C.-86B.C.)

The main constructions of the Hellenistic Period are: Arsenal, Metroon, South Stoa II, the East Building, Eakion, Middle Stoa and the Stoa of Attalos. The Stoa of Attalos is the most important building of this period, sponsored by the king of Pergamos Attalos. It is a Dorian-order construction that was restored in 1956 and hosts the Museum of the Ancient Agora today. At the end of this period many of these buildings suffered serious damage from the Roman siege and particularly from the general Sulla.

Roman Times (86B.C.-267A.D.)

The brightest period for Agora came after the destructions from the Roman general Sulla. New imposing buildings were constructed and the Roman Agora at the east became the city’s new commercial centre while the Athenian Agora was exclusively a spiritual and cultural centre. The most important constructions of this period are: the Temple of Ares, Pandenos Library, Nympheon, Monopetros, Vasiliki, the state’s offices and the Odeon of Agrippa.

In 267A.D the Heruli invaded and destroyed the city. All buildings apart from the Temple of Hephaestus were burned to ground.

Byzantine Period (267A.D.-1456)

At this period Agora started losing its glory and elegance after had suffered such a vast destruction. The only monument that stood untouched was the Temple of Hephaestus. Baths took the place of the Odeon and a small Orthodox Basilica the place of Vouleftirio and Metroon. On the context of the sanctuaries’ prohibition, the Temple of Hephaestus was converted into a church (St George) and the church of St Apostles was constructed.

Further Information

The archaeological site of Agora is approachable with the METRO (Monastiraki station), HSAP (Monastiraki and Thisio stations) and with the urban blue buses (lines 025,026,027).

The tickets cost: 4€ and 2€ (the reduced fee). The site is open to the public: Tuesday-Friday 08:00 – 15:00 whereas on Mondays is closed. For further information on the groups entitled a free admission and on the availability of the site contact: +3(0)2103210185, +3(0)2103214825, +3(0)2103210180, Fax: +3(0)2103210196.

 

 

 

 



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