The Parthenon

Famous throughout the world is the Parthenon in Athens, a temple of the classical period, commissioned by Pericles in honor of Athena Partenos, patron of the city and the first building of the majestic Acropolis of Athens. It was raised by the architects Ictino and Callicrate, with the masterful collaboration of the master Fidia who carried out the decoration of the pediments, the metopes and the frieze. The Parthenon rises in the central point of the Acropolis and is certainly the best known among the masterpieces of Greek architecture. It has 8 columns in front and 17 on the sides and rests on a base of three steps.

Parthenon Athens Once upon a time the surfaces were covered in bright colors and decorated with sculptures and reliefs, today only marble remains. It took 9 years to build it and was completed in 438 BC. When the Parthenon was built for its decoration, Phidias was commissioned to create three groups of decorative sculptures, the métope, the frieze and the sculptures of the pediments. The métope were originally 92, arranged around the building and depicting mythological battles. Today 58 métopes are exhibited in London and Paris. The frieze was instead a continuous bas-relief sculpture and was 160 meters long. It represented the procession to the temple on the occasion of the Panathenaic festivities.

Panorama of Athens with the Acropolis Parts of the Parthenon frieze are preserved in the Acropolis Museum. At the end of the temple were placed the statues of the pediments, which represented the birth of Athena from the head of Zeus and the struggle between Athena and Poseidon for the possession of Attica. Unfortunately the sculptures are so damaged that it is known what they represented only for the presence of writings that speak of them. The interior of the temple housed the statue, about 12 meters high, of the goddess Athena, protector of the city, made of gold and ivory on a wooden structure. The statue, for the construction materials, has obviously been destroyed and only a reduced-scale copy remains, preserved in the National Archaeological Museum.

Why is Parthenon so important?

Its importance lies in the fact that it is one of the most complete buildings ever built by one of the most advanced civilizations the world has known. The Parthenon, although it has been studied for centuries, still hides many secrets and questions among scholars. It is considered the perfect building and is the most imitated construction in the world. Even if you have seen dozens of photographs, you are never fully prepared for the immensity of the Parthenon. What makes the Parthenon so fascinating is that looking at it it would seem to be made of interchangeable pieces, but it is not like that at all.

For example, the columns, it seems to see that it is possible to replace a piece of a column with all the others. But appearances are deceiving … each piece of the Parthenon is unique and fits only to a certain position, like the largest and heaviest puzzle in the world! The restoration of the Parthenon has been going on for more than 30 years (and will require at least another 30 years) and makes us understand how complex it is to reassemble everything as it was, and what the mastery of the architects and craftsmen who worked there was .

From Greek temple the Parthenon became a Christian church, a mosque and finally a Turkish gunpowder store. In 1687 the Venetians, with General Morosini, bombed the temple from below. A bullet hit the gunpowder of the depot, blowing up the building. Incredible, isn’t it?

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