What: A temple built on the Acropolis in Athens in ancient Greece.
Built: 432 BC
Years to build: 8
The Parthenon is a temple that sits atop the Acropolis in central Athens. It was built in 432 BC and was dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, the protector of the city of Athens. It was a place of worship for the people of Classical Athens who would go to the temple to pray and make sacrifices to Athena. The temple itself has been copied around the world, from the French Parliament, U.S. Supreme Court, banks and museums.
During the middle of the 5th century BC, Athens was at its pinnacle. It was at the seat of the Delian League and was the center of culture and arts across the Hellenic World. Pericles, the general of Athens, initiated the project of the Acropolis and used some of the funds from the Delian League to help pay for the construction of the Acropolis. At the heart of this project was the Parthenon. The co-architects of the Parthenon were Iktinos, Kallikrates and the architect was Phidias. Inside stood a giant statue of Athena that was made of gold. The temple was decorated with a frieze depicting the Panathenaic procession, which was an important festival in Athens. The pediments depicted Greek mytholgical events, such as the birth of Athena, and the twelve Gods of Olympus.
For the next few centures the Parthenon and the surrounding acropolis would be visited by peoplefrom around the Ancient World as a place of worship. In the 5th century AD it was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The Christians then proceeded to destroy the nude sculptures. In 1204 Athens came under Latin rule and the Parthenon was then converted into a Roman Catholic church for about 250 years. To transform it into a church they had to remove the inner walls of the Parthenon and build an apse at one of the ends. Thus they had to remove some of the sculptures from the temple, some of which were destroyed.
In 1453 Athens was conquered by the Ottoman Empire who turned the Parthenon into a mosque, building a minaret in it. Then on September 26, 1687 the Venetians attacked the Acropolis with the hopes of driving the Ottoman Empire out of Athens. The Ottoman’s hid inside the Parthenon, which was also used as an ammunition dump. The Venetians then bombarded the Parthenon thus igniting the ammunition and almost completely destroying the temple. The roof of the Parthenon collapsed and many sculptures would be destroyed forever. In 1806 Lord Elgin, who was the English Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, removed some of the surviving sculptures and marbles causing considerable damage in the process. He then sold them to the British Museum in London where they still remain to this day. The building still stands, even after much destruction, and has been under a restoration project for the past thirty years.
Parthenon by Costa-Gavras:
Secrets of the Parthenon by PBS: