Souvenirs from Athens, Greece
Today’s Greece keeps the magical Olympian legends still alive with its splendid white mountains, blue waters and sun bathed ruins of classical beauty. The Temple of Parthenon is one of the most exquisite masterpieces of Classical Greek style to survive Ancient times, Dark Ages and Modern conflicts. Located on the Acropolis in Greek capital, Athens, it is a celebration of goddess Athena and was built in the 5th century BC as a symbol of Greek power. A resin fridge magnet (available now) is a beautiful souvenir which celebrates Parthenon’s everlasting grace.
Parthenon, the Temple of Olympian Gods
The construction of the Monument started in 447 BC after the old Temple of Pre-Parthenon was destroyed by the Persian armies. The history of Parthenon throughout the millennia is a dramatic tale of power, spirituality and grace in a world of change and war. From being the ultimate Temple of Olympian gods to housing the Delian League and cherishing Christianity in the 5th century AD, the Parthenon even served as a Mosque after the Ottoman Empire defeated the Byzantine Empire. At the end of the 17th century the construction was severely damaged during an attack lead by the Venetian troops and in 1816 some of its sculptures (the famous Elgin Marbles) were purchased by the British Museum. Ever since, a long negotiation process for returning the items to the Greek state is still in progress.
Acropolis’s Astonishing Doric Masterpiece
While Parthenon was the prosperous center of the Delian League, sculptor Phidias and architects Ictinos and Callicrates were commissioned to create some of Acropolis’s most outstanding buildings such as Propylaia, Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. Among these, the Parthenon, completed around 432 BC and competing with the ancient Temple of Hephaestus, was unanimously considered the most beautiful example of Doric architectural style. With its elegant columns, delicate curved roofs and splendid decorative elements, it is said to illustrate the golden ratio. One of the most outstanding elements of the Temple are the 92 Metopes, the creation of artist Kalamis, high relief sculptures carved on the outside walls to depict Greek mythological characters, Olympian gods or legendary scenes of mythical battles and wars. Another astonishing element of the Parthenon is the Ionic frieze which decorates some of the exterior walls with scenes whose symbolism is still disputed by experts. Whether it represents an idealized yearly Panathenaic procession honoring goddess Athena or images associated with the Greek mythology of sacrifice, it is still unknown.
Athens, a History of Violence
Short after its construction, a fire destroyed the Temple’s roof and some of its interior parts in the first radical change of the Parthenon dramatic history; in the 4th century AD the pagan temple of Athena had to be close as the official religion within the Byzantine Empire was Christianity. Some of the Parthenon decorations were taken away and later destroyed following the siege of Constantinople in 1204. During its serving as a Christian Church, the building was slightly transformed with reinterpretations of existing decorations and Parthenon became a main Christian pilgrimage place within the Byzantine Empire. In 1687, following a Venetian attack against the Ottomans, the Parthenon was severely affected by an explosion which destroyed several of its main columns, sculptures and decorations. After Greece took back Athens in 1832, the officials demolished all the Islamic buildings around the Acropolis including the former mosque built in the Monument. In the 1970s, the Greek officials initiated a large EU funded project for the restoration of the Parthenon and in 1983 a special Committee dedicated to its preservation was created.