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Athena

"ATHENS, THE CITY OF THE GODDESS ATHENA"
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The Agora, with the nearby hill of the Areopagus, is Athens' other main area of archaeological interest. Originally an open space crossed by the Panathenaic Way, the Agora was quickly flanked by large numbers of public buildings and adorned with temples and altars, stoas and fountains. It acquired its final form in the 2nd c. AD. Its most prominent structures today are the modern reconstruction of the Stoa built by Attalos II of Pergamum in the 2nd century B.C. now housing the Agora Museum and the Doric Temple of Hephaestus (Theseion), still miraculously intact. Built in Pentelic marble in the same period as the Parthenon, the temple is still an important landmark in the lower part of Athens. It is about 32m (105 ft) long and 14m (46 ft) wide, with 6 columns at the ends and 13 at the sides. Its plans appears conventional Doric, but its cella resembles the larger one in the Parthenon.

Athens, Agora - Staoa of Attalos
Athens, Agora - Staoa of Attalos
Athens, Agora - Hefaistion

The word “Agora” drives from the word “ageiro” meaning “I gather”

The Agora, which extends over the north-west slopes of Acropolis, was the heart of ancient Athens from the late 6th c. BC onwards. It was a place for political gatherings and debate, for elections, religious occasions and trading activities, theatrical performances and athletic competitions. . In the beginning somebody spoke in an open space and people gathered around. He came back and they came back to listen. Another orator took his place and people went on gathering around the speakers. Peddlers came with their goods, and gradually shops were built around this open space, and the orator’s stand finds its permanent place. The Agora – market place – is born.

Athens, Agora - Hefaistion

Under the slope of the Theseion stood most of the administrative buildings. The “Bouleutereion” or council house of the 500 representatives of the people; the “Metroon” where the shrine of the mother of the Gods used to be, and where the archives of the city were kept; and a round building which was the State dining hall. Here free meals were offered to the 50 city councillors, to guests of honour and to the Olympic winner if an Athenian, whom the city rewarded in this manner. The official standard weights and measures were also kept there. To the South of the State dining-hall stood the “Heliaea”, the court of the people. The judges were elected by ballot among all citizens. Pleading had to be done by the accused himself, but he had the right to learn his speech by heart. There were men in Athens whose job it was to draw up these speeches and many have been found which are marvels of eloquent equivocation. In front of the Metroon stood the statues of the “Eponymoi” the ten heroes, fathers of the ten tribes of Attica. It is on this structure supporting the statues that the laws, decrees, city decisions and the names of those summoned for military service were posted. The religious building included: The temple of “Apollon Patroos” (the father). A great altar to “Zeus Agoraeos” (the orator) stood in a prominent place in the Agora. To Zeus also was dedicated a portico, erected in gratitude to the God for his assistance to the Athenians in their battles against the Persians. It was beautifully decorated with paintings and was one of the favourite places where Socrates used to stand or walk with his followers. A small sanctuary took care of all twelve Gods. This was considered as the center of the city, and distances were counted from there. Athens Tour

The East Portico had been built by Attalos II, King of Pergamon, in the second century B.C. He had studied in Athens during his youth and presented this magnificent building to the city in gratitude for the education and knowledge he had acquired there. This portico has been reconstructed by the American School of Classical Studies of Athens. Old parts, which still existed, were included in the new structure, and as it stands today, with its brand new marble shining in the sun, its elegant double storied colonnade, it gives us an idea of what the market place must have looked like when it was the throbbing heart of Athens. The shops at the back are used as a museum in which the finds of the Agora are displayed. Looking over these exhibits one gets a vivid impression of the life of the ancient Athenians, their religion, the state machinery and their every-day facilities. A large statue of Apollo Patroos of the fourth century B.C. stands under the portico and facing it at the other end is a lovely Victory with the wind flowing through her drapery. A statuette of Apollo in ivory stands inside; this is a copy of a statue by Praxiteles. View virtual tour http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNre_eUDoVI&feature=relmfu

A relief of Democracy crowning the Deme is inscribed with a law against tyranny. Other proofs of this democracy to be seen in the Museum are: bonze ballots; an allotment-machine, used for the selection of officials, made of marble with slots for the names of the candidates of each tribe and a passage for dropping in the white and black balls for selection or rejection; and the ostracism ballots of the fifth century B.C. There were used to banish undesirable citizens. It was necessary for at least 6000 citizens to vote and whoever had the most votes against him was ostracized and, within ten days had to leave the city for ten years. Famous names such as those of Aristides and Themistocles can be read on these ballots. It is interesting to see how many have been found written in the same hand. They were probably prepared for use before the voting took place. Also of interest are the nearby Cerameikos quarter, with the Dipylon cemetery and remains of potters' workshops. Finally, a visit to the National Archaeological Museum  provides an overview of Ancient Athens. Athens Tour

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