The Akropolis of Athens is the steep limestone hill whereupon stand the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Propylaea, the Temple of Athena Nike, the modern Akropolis Museum and the ruins of many other monuments.
The Akropolis, as the Greek word means, provided strong defensive walls and a vantage point for the fortress and royal palace that stood there until the 6th century BC, when it became a sanctuary for various deities. The monuments remained todayare the result of a campaign by Pericles to beautify Athens, in order to assure its place as centre of culture.
Climbing the stairway of Akropolis, you come to the Propylea, the original Greek entrance. Its monumental doorways, gold-encrusted marble ceilings and painting gallery are now in ruins.
Parthenon is the most prominent and famous structure, most visited by tourists. Begun in 447 BC and finished nine years later, the Parthenon is the largest Doric temple in Greece, designed by Iktinos in the Pericles era (The Golden Years of Athens, 5th
century BC). The temple, as originally dedicated to the virgin goddess Athena, once housed a splendid ivory and gold statue of her, carved by Phidias. Conquerors over the centuries used it as a church, a cathedral and even a Turkish mosque.
The Ionic temple was built in 407 BC and housed some of the holiest shrines of ancient Athens. The pediment of the southern portico is supported by the six Caryatids, statues of young women. The present statues are copies; one of the originals in the British Museum, while the remaining five are now in the Akropolis Museum, at the southeast corner of the Akropolis.
The Temple of Athena Nike Just outside the Propylea: the Temple of Athena Nike features some original, although substantially damaged, friezes. It has been restored twice and the interior is closed to the public.