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The Acropolis

Nowhere else in the world can one particular uncover a rock of a Splendor and historic value equal to that with the Acropolis of Athens. Standing within the midst with the Attic plain, surrounded by mountains, this hill types a pedestal worthy of the immortal monuments that adorn its summit. The Acropolis of Athens would be the noblest altar that human genius ever erected to beauty and also the perfect before which each of the peoples with the earth should really prostrate themselves.

The rock from the Acropolis is often a mass of blue-gray limestone increasing 156 m. above sea level and 70 m. above the northern sector in the town, with its summit forming an uneven plateau, roughly oval in shape, 150 by 350 m. at its maximum breadth and length. On account of its precipitous sides, hollowed out into a variety of cult-caves where the first divinities of Attica had been worshipped, it is actually inaccessible save for any narrow winding path along its western slope.

In prehistoric times the Acropolis was encircled by a enormous wall of large blocks of stone behind which the inhabitants in the surrounding nation took refuge against the incursions of pirates or other invaders. This was the Cyclopean wall built by the Pelasgians who have been the initial inhabitants of Attica.

Through the Mycenaean period (1700-1100 BC) this gigantic wall was maintained around the summit on the Acropolis, which was reached in the west by a winding processional path by means of numerous propylaea related to those at Tiryns and Mycenae, top to a fortified entrance in a second defensive wall. This was the Pelasgicum, or Pelargicum, which should not be confused together with the earlier defensive wall built by the Pelasgians. Built around the base from the citadel, this wall was furnished with nine gates from which it derived the name Enneapylon. The Pelasgicum protected the dwellings grouped about the foot of your Acropolis, also as its springs, even though the gates opening in different directions gave access towards the surrounding country.

Beside the sanctuaries was the king’s palace, the Mycenaean megaton, most likely situated exactly where the Erechtheion now stands, as well as the residences with the court officials. When inside the seventh century BC the royal energy passed to the nobles the palace was no longer employed and the Acropolis became exclusively a sanctuary.

In the sixth century BC Peisistratus constructed a temple, the Hecatompedon, committed to Athena, protectress in the city, as well as a monumental gateway, the Propylon, which gave admittance towards the sacred enclosure. Traces of this ancient building, destroyed by the Persians when they set fire towards the Acropolis in 480, can be found behind the wall south-east of your present Propylaea.

Following their crushing defeats at Salamis and Plataea, the Persians were forced to evacuate Attica, but since it was feared they would try yet another invasion it became urgently necessary to re-fortify Athens. Themistocles restored the western and northern ramparts, using in his haste what ever material was out there. Drums from broken or unfinished columns, entablatures, as well as sepulchral monuments had been built into the masonry, and might be observed behind the Erechtheion.

The walls which bear his name were constructed around the south and east edges in the Acropolis by Cimon. Constructed of fine poros, their surface beauty was destroyed when the Venetians incorporated them in a technique of defensive works. Below Kimono’s successor, Pericles, the summit from the Acropolis was leveled and covered with excellent monuments and statues.

Amongst July and August an annual Panathenaea was held in honor of Athena, divine patroness from the city; just about every fourth year this festival, which incorporated a procession, sacrifices and contests, was celebrated as the Great Panathenaea and marked with even higher pomp. King Erechtheus, foster-son of Athena, founded this ancient festival, initially known as Athenaea, as a way to establish the worship of his foster-mother as goddess of the city. When Theseus, King of Athens, induced the independent communities of Attica to unite beneath his rule and recognize Athens as their widespread capital he ordered that the Athenaea be for ever celebrated by the inhabitants of all Attica as the Panathenaea (the festival of united Athens).

One of many principal ceremonies was the presentation of a saffron and purple peplos (a shawl-like garment worn by females) towards the statue of Athena. This pricey garment, a cloth of great beauty embroidered with scenes in the battles in between gods and giants, was borne like a sail around the mast of a ship propelled on wheels. All of the beauty and majesty of Athens have been represented within this magnificent procession which assembled in the Kerameikos, the cemetery of Ancient Athens after which ascended the Acropolis by a winding processional path to the Propylaea.

The procession in the Panathenaea, which can be represented in such a vivid manner in the well-known frieze of your Parthenon, integrated priests and their attendants, top a long train of animals festively adorned for sacrifice; matrons and garlanded maidens bearing the consecrated sacrificial instruments in baskets on their heads; old males with olive branches in their hands; a splendid array of warriors with spear and shield: guys in armor; mounted knights; the victors of your preceding contests; the festal embassies of other states, in particular the colonies; and lastly the aliens resident in Athens.

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