Guide to The Acropolis in Athens
The Acropolis of Athens is probably the main reason why most tourists visit Athens, the capital of Greece. The acropolis is the most recognizable monument in Greece, and one of the most distinguished monuments in the World. The Acropolis is a prehistoric settlement perched high above Athens, Greece, on a limestone hill. Over the years, the Acropolis served as a royal residence, a fortification, the mythical setting for the gods’ home, a place of worship, and a popular tourist destination.
Acropolis at a glance
The acropolis is an Ancient Greek compound word from “akri” (edge) + “polish” (city). In modern Greek, it is called “Akropoli” (Ακρόπολη) and it means “high city”, “upper city”, or “city at the top”. The acropolis is the fortified height or citadel of an ancient Greek city.
The Acropolis of Athens was a refuge when the city was under attack, but also the religious heart of the city.
The rock of the Acropolis is crowned by the dramatic ruins of the Parthenon, one of the most archetypal images of the Western culture.
The first time you will see the Acropolis rising above the city of Athens, you will feel as if something familiar, but also something absolutely extraordinary.
The Temple of Parthenon has always intended to be the landmark and a symbol of the city’s confidence and grandeur, and it became famous throughout the modern and the ancient world. However, even its creators could never think that the Acropolis and the Parthenon would become the symbol of Western civilization for many centuries and millennia to come.
The Arios Pagos
It is located NW of Acropolis. A rock with an artificially leveled top, lower than the Acropolis Rock. The ancient Parliament went to the session here.
The Ancient Market
It includes the site of the Ancient Market on the bottom of the Holy Rock, Hifaistos’ temple (Thisio) and Attalus’ tunnel. The Persians destroyed all of the buildings in the Ancient Market in 480 B.C., which were afterward rebuilt.
Located near the Roman Market, it is a gift to Athens from Emperor Adrianos, built in the second century. The Archaeological Site is fenced, but all of the ruins are visible from the outside.
The ancient graveyard of Athens. It includes part of the city’s ancient Wall.
Right opposite from the Acropolis it houses the monument of the Roman benefactor of Athens, Gaius Julius Antiochus Filopappou, built in the second century.
Lysikratous Monument, or Diogenes’ Lantern
A monument of the fourth century B.C., located in Plaka. Open archaeological site.
Located opposite of Arios Pagos right next to Filopappou Hill, Pnyka Hill was the place where the Municipality’s sessions were held.
Located on Amalia’s Boulevard, it was built by Emperor Adrianus in the early second century. Behind it remain the ruins of Olympian Zeus’ Temple, the largest Temple of Ancient Greece.
Located east from Aiolou Street its construction was started by Julius Caesar but it was finished by Emperors Adrianus and Traianus.
The Sacred Rock of the Acropolis
The Acropolis itself is just the rock on which the monuments are located. Many cities have their own acropolis since the word means “the highest point of the city”.
However, the Acropolis of Athens is the Acropolis, that needs no further explanation and discussion. Its natural setting is a steep-sided crag of limestone that rises abruptly 150m from its surroundings. Even now, with no other function apart from tourism, the Acropolis is the undeniable heart of the city and the focal point of both locals and visitors of the city.
On top of the Acropolis stand:
- The Parthenon
- The Erechtheion
- The Temple of Athena Nike
- The Propylaia
All these are included in a single fenced archaeological site.
The south slope of the Acropolis has two great theaters and several small temples – it has separate entrance as well.
The summit of the Acropolis can be reached from the west where you can see a large coach park at the bottom of the hill. You can also approach it from the northwest part of the site, on a path that connects the pedestrianized Dionisiou Areopagitou and the Herodes Atticus Odeon. Once you enter the gate you will find yourself at the Propylaea or Propylaia.
The Acropolis and its buildings stand there since the 5th century BC, although they were seriously damaged by the Turkish army in 1686 and were restored later between 1836 and 1842.
These buildings were built by Pericles as a monument that would enhance the political and cultural achievements of the city of Athens. The project was completed in 432BC, during the Golden Era of Athens. The main architect of the Acropolis was Mnesicles and later on, Iktinos and Callicrates.
The Acropolis is open all year long, of course, but the best time of the year to visit Athens and the Acropolis is spring when the hill is still covered with wildflowers and grass that make it look even prettier. Moreover, during the spring months, the heat is not that annoying – during summer months temperature can rise up to 40C, therefore some tourists have a hard time climbing the steps and the hilly sides of the Acropolis.
Even having seen thousands of photos of the Acropolis, you will not be prepared for the immensity and grandeur of the sacred rock and the Parthenon.
Once you visit the archaeological site of the Acropolis, you can take pictures of the city of Athens from above. On a clear day, you can see as far as Piraeus and the island of Aegina, as well as the mountains of the Peloponnese Peninsula.
Make sure to visit the new Acropolis Museum after wandering on the hill. The museum is located opposite the main entrance of the Acropolis, from the part of Plaka and houses all the statues and findings of the Acropolis, as well the marbles of the Parthenon that are in Athens – the rest of them are in the British Museum of London.
The New Museum of the Acropolis opened its gates on June 20th, 2009.
It is located in a modern building, housing more than 4,000 artifacts and works from the Acropolis and the Parthenon.
Visitors have the chance to see some parts of the excavations still taking place underneath the museum. The permanent collections include The Acropolis during the Archaic Period, the Acropolis Slopes, The Parthenon, and other items from the Acropolis.
It is an impressively big museum, with a great deal of information for those who are interested in the most important monument of the Antiquity in Europe.
The Acropolis Museum offers direct views to the Acropolis hill, which you can also enjoy while sitting at the gorgeous outdoor café of the museum.
Opening hours, price and location
Monday 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Tuesday – Sunday 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Friday 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Monday – Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Friday 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
General admission: 10 Euros
Reduced admission: 5 Euros
General admission: 5 Euros
Reduced admission: 3 Euros