Day tour to Olympia

Parthenon – read before you visit

History of the Parthenon
The origins of the sacred use of the great limestone rock rising from the Attic plain are unknown.
An important detail: the top half of the Acropolis hill is limestone while the bottom half is granite and this explains the water sources around the half of the hill.

* Neolithic remains discovered on the slopes of the Acropolis indicate a continuous settlement on the hill from at least 3000 BCE, well before the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures that later gave birth to the archaic period.
* In the Mycenaean period (1600-1100 BCE) the summit was surrounded by a massive fortification wall, which protected the palace-temple of the Mycenaean priest-kings.
* The earliest known Hellenistic structures, dating from the 6th c. BCE, were two large temples dedicated to the goddess Athena, on hill top positions that had probably contained older shrines before them.
* In 480 BCE the Persians destroyed all these temples and in 447 BCE the Athenian leader Pericles initiated construction of the presently standing temple of Athena.

Built by the architects Ictinus and Callicrates under the supervision of the sculptor Phidias, the temple is generally considered to be the culmination of the development of the Doric order, the simplest of the three classical Greek architectural styles.

While much of the structure remains intact, the Parthenon has suffered considerable damage over the centuries.
In 296 BCE the tyrant Lachares removed the gold from the statue of Athena in order to pay his army.
In the 5th century CE the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church.
In 1460 the Parthenon held a Turkish mosque.
In 1687 gunpowder stored by the Turks inside the temple exploded and destroyed the central area when the Venetian Morozinni bombed Acropolis from the hill of Philopappou.
In 1801 – 1803 parts of the temple’s remaining sculptures were sold by the Turks (who controlled Greece at the time) to the Englishman Lord Elgin. These sculptures were forcibly removed, sold to the British Museum and are called today the Elgin Marbles. Greece has been asking the British Museum to return the sculptures but the British government refuses to do so.

Purpose of the Parthenon
Long before the construction of the Parthenon the site had been a sacred place of other cultures. The temple was built to supplant the temples of the earlier cultures and to praise the character of the Greek goddess Athena.

The power of the place and the character of its energy gives rise to various types of deity forms. The temple of Athena, a goddess of spiritual development and intellectual understanding, catalyzes and cultivates those same qualities in visitors.

Parthenon architecture and measurements
The Parthenon was the supreme expression of the ancient Greek architectural genius and represents the marriage of simplicity and power. It was built to precise dimensions according to the mathematical ratios of sacred geometry.

The rectangular building (measured at the top step of its base to be 101.34 feet wide by 228.14 feet long) was constructed of brilliant white marble, surrounded by 46 great columns, roofed with tiles, and housed a nearly 40 foot tall statue of the goddess Athena. The statue, known as Athena Promachos, was made of wood, gold and ivory and could be seen from a distance of many miles.

Athena, Goddess of the Parthenon. The name Parthenon refers to the worship of Athena, the goddess and patroness of the city of Athens.

According to legend goddess Athena jumped fully grown from the head of her father Zeus. Zeus was complaining of strong heaches and Hephaestus with his axe opened Zeus’ head and Athena jumped out in full armour.

History of the Parthenon
The origins of the sacred use of the great limestone rock rising from the Attic plain are unknown. They were forgotten long before the writing of the first recorded histories of Athens.

Neolithic remains discovered on the slopes of the Acropolis indicate a continuous settlement on the hill from at least 2800 BCE, well before the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures that later gave birth to the archaic Greek.

In the Mycenaean period (1600-1100 BCE) the summit was surrounded by a massive fortification wall, which protected the palace-temple of the Mycenaean priest-kings.

The earliest known Hellenistic structures, dating from the 6th century BCE, were two large temples dedicated to the goddess Athena, on hill top positions that had probably contained older shrines before them.

In 480 BCE the Persians destroyed these temples and in 447 BCE the Athenian leader Pericles initiated construction of the presently standing temple of Athena.

Built by the architects Ictinus and Callicrates under the supervision of the sculptor Phidias, the temple is generally considered to be the culmination of the development of the Doric order, the simplest of the three classical Greek architectural styles.

While much of the structure remains intact, the Parthenon has suffered considerable damage over the centuries.
In 296 BCE the tyrant Lachares removed the gold from the statue of Athena in order to pay his army.

In the 5th century CE the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church.

In 1460 the Parthenon held a Turkish mosque and in 1687 gunpowder stored by the Turks inside the temple exploded and destroyed the central area when the Venetian admiral Morozinni bombed Acrtopolis from the hill of Philopappou.

In 1801 – 1803 parts of the temple’s remaining sculptures were sold by the Turks (who controlled Greece at the time) to the Englishman Lord Elgin. These sculptures were forcibly removed, sold to the British Museum and called the Elgin Marbles. Greece has asked the British Museum to return the sculptures but it has refused to do so.

Purpose of the Parthenon
Long before the construction of the Parthenon the site had been a sacred place of other cultures. The Parthenon was built to supplant the temples of the earlier cultures and to both experience and praise the character of the Greek goddess Athena.

The power of a place, the character of its energy gives rise to various types of deity forms. The temple of Athena, a goddess of spiritual development and intellectual understanding, catalyzes and cultivates those same qualities in visitors.

Parthenon architecture and measurements
The Parthenon was the supreme expression of the ancient Greek architectural genius and represents the marriage of simplicity and power. It was built to precise dimensions according to the mathematical ratios of sacred geometry.

The rectangular building (measured at the top step of its base to be 101.34 feet wide by 228.14 feet long) was constructed of brilliant white marble, surrounded by 46 great columns, roofed with tiles, and housed a nearly 40 foot tall statue of the goddess Athena. The statue, known as Athena Promachos, was made of wood, gold and ivory and could be seen from a distance of many miles.

Athena, Goddess of the Parthenon
The name Parthenon refers to the worship of Athena, the goddess and patroness of the city of Athens.

Athena issued fully grown from the head of her father Zeus (Jupiter).

and Athena sprung out in full armour.

She represents the highest order of spiritual development and the gifts of intellect and understanding. Athena is the symbol of the universal human aspiration for wisdom.
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SHRINE OF ASCLEPIUS BENEATH THE PARTHENON
On the southern cliffs of the Acropolis, in a small cave there is a sacred spring is a sacred spring. Details of its earliest use and deities are lost in antiquity, it is known that the spring became the focal point of a sanctuary to the healing god Asklepius by the 5th c. BC. The sacred spring of Asklepius was converted into a Christian place of worship by the 6th c. AD and rededicated to the Aghioi Anargyroi, or healing Saints. Below the cave and spring shrine there are extensive ruins of other temples to Asklepius and his daughter Hygieia, the goddess of health.

The Greek god of healing, Asklepius was the son of Apollo and the nymph Koronis (born in the temple of Apollo in Epidauros) and was taught the art of healing by the centaur Chiron. The cult of Asklepius spread from the island of Kos (home of Hippocrates) throughout Greece and Asia Minor. In the classical and Hellenistic periods, many cities and towns had sanctuaries dedicated to Asklepius, but there were particular sites that had a greater prominence than others, including Epidauros in mainland Greece, Kos in the Aegean, Trikka in Thessaly, Pergamon in Asia Minor, and Lebena in southern Crete. Each of these healing sanctuaries drew large numbers of pilgrims from distant parts of the Greek world for well over one thousand years.

The temples of Asklepius were always associated with sacred springs, whose waters carried the healing powers of the Earth spirits. Because it was believed that Asklepius effected cures of the sick in dreams, those patients seeking the god’s help first drank and bathed in the waters of his spring and then slept within the temple precincts (called the abaton). During dreams, Asklepius or his serpents would appear to the sick, giving them clues regarding their healing. The means by which cures were effected were abstinence from food before and during the time in the abaton, ritual bathing, sacrifice, incubation, dreams, and then healing. While priests were present at the shrines, they did not function as doctors nor is there any evidence for medical treatment in any of the Asklepion. Those persons who received cures at the Asklepieia recovered through their faith in Asklepius, through the therapeutic suggestions they received in dreams, or simply in the natural course of events.

Patients in Asklepeiion shrines also participated in rituals involving snakes, which were believed to be assistants of the healing god. Asklepius is frequently shown standing with a long wooden staff, around which is entwined a large snake. This staff, symbolizing the tree of life, and its coiling snake represent the mysterious healing powers of the primal earth and are themselves remnants of pre-Grecian cults that worshipped the Earth. A somewhat similar symbol, the caduceus, a winged staff with two twined serpents, is frequently but incorrectly used as a medical emblem. Without medical relevance, the caduceus instead represents the magic wand of Hermes, the messenger of the gods and the patron of trade.