The ancient Agora of Athens

The agora in the ancient Greek polis (city-states) was the center of social and political life and one of the symbols of democracy. It was a place for political debates, speeches, religious ceremonies and even a market. The Agora in Athens is one of the most impressive with length of 111 m. and a width of 98 m. Today, only ruins remain of it, judging by its size and beauty. The first archaeological excavations at the site were carried out by the Greek Archaeological Society in the middle of the 19th century. The work continues to this day. In order to reveal the full majesty of the ancient agora, it will be necessary to demolish about 400 modern buildings occupying an area of 12 thousand hectares.

Several major monuments were discovered at the excavation site. One of them is the Stoa of Attalos II, King of Pergamon. The Stoa is a small building, built around 150. BC It was reconstructed and currently houses the Museum of the Ancient Agora. It extends over two stories supported by a double row of columns. The outer columns are in the Doric style, and the inner ones in the Ionic style.

In the northwestern part of the agora stands the Temple of Hephaestus. This temple is one of the best preserved ancient Greek temples. The reason for this is the fact that from the 7th century the temple was converted into an Orthodox church. The Byzantines removed the naos (the place where the figure of the deity was located), built the apse and gave the current concrete vault to the building. The church existed until 1934 when it was turned into a museum. The original ancient Greek appearance of the building was restored nearly a century later. The imposing Doric columns, made of marble, dominate the landscape and are easily distinguishable even if viewed from the Acropolis.

Description: the Acient Agora /picture source:;

In the southwest corner of the Agora, directly opposite the Senate building, was the Tholos. TheTholos was a small building, distinguished by its unusual round shape and small dimensions. Its diameter was only 18 meters. The hat-shaped roof was supported by 6 internal columns. The Tholos served as the quarters of the prytaneis, which made up the executive committee of the Senate. The Senate consisted of a certain number of members representing each of the ten Athenian tribes. The representatives of each tribe were to serve as prytans for 1/10 of the year. They not only had to organize the meetings of the Senate, but also to be available at all times in case a crisis situation arose. The Tholos was where the prytans slept, where they cooked and ate.

On the territory of the Agora you can also see the Tower of the Winds. It is an octagonal tower that served as a weather station and clock. On top of it was layered a rotating Triton, which indicated the direction of the wind. On the tower there are sculptures made, representing an allegory of the eight winds. Inside the tower was a water clock that showed the time regardless of the sun. Separately, there is a sundial on each of the eight sides of the tower.

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