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The City of Athens
Ancient Athens
Tour of Athens
The Agora of Athens
Temple of Hephaistos
The Akropolis of Athens
The South Slope
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The south slope of the Acropolis

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 choregic monuments, the Asklepieion, 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.

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 Perikles 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.

The Theatre of Dionysos
No trace has been preserved of the 5th-century theatre which must have been simple in form with a few rows of wooden and stone seats. The preserved ruins belong to the monumental theatre built by Lycourgos. The permanent scene (stage) was then constructed, extending in the width of the orchestra. After its destruction by Sulla in 86 B.C., the theatre and the scene were rebuilt.

The old temple of Dionysos sheltered the old, cult statue of Dionysos Eleutherios. It was constructed in the 6th century B.C. , during the rule of tyrant Peisistratos and his successors.
The later temple of Dionysos sheltered the chryselephantine statue of the god, a work of the sculptor Alkamenes.The choragic monument of Thrasyllos.

It was erected by Thrasyllos in 320/19 B.C., high on the south slope of the Acropolis, at the "katatome", the great artificial scarp of the rock which had been evened out vertically during the construction of the Dionysos Theatre.

Carvings on the rock visible in the same area point to the conclusion that several more choragic monuments were erected, but no trace of them has been preserved.

The Stoa of Eumenes
It is dated to the Hellenistic period and is attributed to Eumenes II, the king of Pergamos (197-159 B.C.). The Stoa was constructed along the peripatos", the road which runs above it and runs around the boot of the hill. It was built of conglomerate, poros stone, Hymettian marble and Pergamene
marble, imported in cut blocks.

The Odeion of Herodes Atticus
It was the third Odeion to be built in Athens, after the Odeion of Perikles and that of Agrippa. It was erected by Herodes in memory of his wife Regilla, who died in A.D. 160.
It is shaped as a semicircular theatre, with a radius of 38 m., and could seat around 50 people. The facade, 28 m. high, was massive, having a width of 2,40 m.
The wall of the scene was lavishly decorated with architectural elements. The Odeion was destroyed during the invasion of the Herulae who also destroyed most of the city's monuments in A.D. 267.

The Asklepieion
It was erected after 420 B.C. and includes the foundations of the temple of Asklepios, the two-storied Doric Stoa which was used as the "katagogion", the Ionic Stoa which dates from the end of the 5th century B.C., and the altar. The site was excavated by the French School of Archaeology at Athens at the beginning of the century.

The medieval structures have destroyed the earlier buildings, leaving in place only their foundations or carvings in the rock.
The finds date from the period between 8th century B.C. and the Byzantine times (10th century A.D.).

The Pnyx
The function of the large, theatre-like area on the hill west of the Acropolis had, in the past, been explained by a number of different theories, before it was securely identified as the Pnyx, the place where the Assembly of the Athenians held its meetings.

The remains found have shown that the Pnyx had three main building periods. In the first period, the natural hillside was used as the cave of the theatre.

The surface was evened off by quarrying out the hard limestone, while a straight retaining wall was built on the north side.

In the second period, the arrangement of the auditorium was very different; a high, semicircular retaining wall was built to the north, supporting an embankment sloping down to the south, that is, in the opposite direction comparing to the first period.

The approach was through the two stairways, 3.90 m. wide.
The Pnyx of the third period had exactly the same plan but on a larger scale; the great retaining wall was constructed of large stone blocks quarried from the area, while the new beam was arranged to the south.
Excavations were carried out in 1910 by the Greek Archaeological Society and definitely confirmed the identification of the site as the Pnyx.

Large-scale excavations were conducted at various times between 1930 and 1937 by H.A. Thompson, in collaboration first with K. Kourouniotes and later with R.L. Scranton.

These investigations enriched our knowledge of the history and architecture of the Pnyx, as well as of the topography of the adjoining area.

Two large stoops
The two stoops bordering the south side of the spacious terrace above the beam are not mentioned in the ancient sources and it is certain that they were never finished.

Their purpose was to shelter the people in bad weather conditions. They belong to the third architectural period of the Pnyx (330-326 B.C.).

At the end of the 4th century B.C. the "diateichisma", a new fortification wall, ran along the back sides of the unfinished stoas.

Cutting for the Altar of Zeus Agoraios. The big rectangular cutting above the beam, for the altar of Zeus Agoraios, belongs to the third period of the Pnyx together with the two stoops (330-326 B.C.).

In the time of Augusts the altar was transferred to the Agora and set up in front of the Merton. Large cutting between the two stoas. It measures 19 x 13 m. and belongs to the third building period of the Pnyx (330-326 B.C.).

According to the excavators, it was the foundation of the Propylaea for the whole architectural complex. The initiation of the program of the third period is attributed to Lycourgos. but the hard years that followed prevented the program from being completed.

The Sanctuary of Zeus Hypsistos
It became known in 1803 by the inscribed plaques found during the excavations conducted by Lord Aberdeen near the beam of the Pnyx. The floor of the old sanctuary, the steps and a number of niches hewn in the scarp of the rock, are preserved. The big, rectangular niche in which the cult statue of the god was placed, probably dates from the Roman period.

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