Acropolis of Athens: history, architecture and facts

Tiempo de lectura: 7 minutos
The incredible Acropolis of Athens is the most important historical attraction in Europe.
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If you’re interested in politics, philosophy or history, then the astounding Acropolis of Athens should be number one on your bucket list. This extraordinary complex is widely regarded as the Europe‘s most important historical site. And many call it the birthplace of democracy.

Contrary to popular belief, the Acropolis of Athens is not actually a building. It’s a citadel. Every Greek city had one, but the Acropolis of Athens is the most impressive. That familiar, pillared building is the wonderful Parthenon temple.

In this post, we’ll explore the history of this complex of Greek ruins. We’ll also learn about the must-see landmarks at the Acropolis. And, you’ll find out some useful information about tickets, opening hours and travel.

History of the Acropolis of Athens

The Acropolis of Athens is a vast, ancient complex.

The Acropolis has a long history dating back to the Mycenaean period (1600-1100 BC). It started life as a fortified settlement but became a religious centre in the 5th century BC.  

What is Inside the Acropolis of Athens? The Must-See Landmarks and Structures

The Acropolis of Athens has many different structures.

The Acropolis is home to a whole slew of structures that showcase the architectural prowess of the ancient Greeks. Here are some of the must-see sites within the Acropolis of Athens:

The Parthenon

The Parthenon is the most famous temple in the Acropolis.

Nestled within the Acropolis of Athens, the Parthenon has some fascinating tales to tell. It was built in the 5th century BC, during the “Golden Age of Athens”. This happened under the rule of Pericles, a Greek politician and General. The popular Pericles was credited with making Athens the hub of Greek culture and education.

The Parthenon was dedicated to the ever-so-wise goddess Athena. It boasts eye-catching Doric architecture, perfect proportions and intricate friezes.

Today’s Parthenon is a graceful, white marble marvel. But believe it or not, it was once adorned in bright colours. Nothing screams “look at me!” like a lilac and pink Parthenon! Sadly, those vibrant tones faded over time and left the Parthenon a somewhat more conventional white.

The Parthenon once housed a colossal chryselephantine statue. And no, that doesn’t mean a statue of an elephant! It’s a Greek gold and ivory statue, and in this case, it was, of course, of Athena.

Around 300 BC, Athena’s gold plates were stripped by a man named Lachares. He had declared a war and didn’t have enough money to pay his soldiers. His solution? He melted down the priceless gold plates to create coins.

The sacred statue eventually vanished, and no one really knows what happened to it. The wood and ivory statue that remained was probably destroyed in a fire around 165 BC. Many copies remain, the most notable of which is in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

The Parthenon has withstood the test of time, surviving wars, fires and earthquakes. It remains an awe-inspiring sight to behold.

Temple of Athena Nike

The Temple of Athena Nike is the smallest temple in the Acropolis of Athens.

Another building built in the honour of the beloved Athena, is the small, elegant Temple of Athena Nike. This Ionic temple came to life in the 5th century BC.

The temple’s construction was quite the roller-coaster ride! When Greece was under the Ottoman Empire in 1686, the temple was disassembled. The naughty Ottomans used the stones to build defences. Greece became independent once again in 1822, and the Athena Nike was meticulously restored to its former glory in 1834. Incredibly, in 1998, the temple was dismantled once again! The crumbling concrete floor needed to be replaced.

This temple may be petite, but it is impressive and important, and it should be an obligatory stop on your Acropolis visit.


The Erechtheion is famous for its iconic Porch of the Caryatids, a row of six graceful female statues

The spectacular Erechtheion temple is a dual homage to the mighty gods Athena and Poseidon. It’s famous for its unique architectural design.

The temple features the iconic Porch of the Caryatids, a row of six graceful female statues. These heavenly heavyweights shoulder the weight of the roof in an eternal display of strength and beauty.

However, these poised ladies are not the real deal. They are standing in as body doubles for the originals. Controversially, the actual statues currently reside at the British Museum alongside the infamous Elgin marbles.


The Propylaea are the gateway to the Acropolis of Athens.

The Propylaea make up the monumental entrance to the Acropolis. The ancient Greeks knew how to make an entrance (literally!), and boy do they show it off in style! This grand gateway once welcomed visitors and pilgrims to the sacred site.

The Propylaea were designed by the brilliant architect Mnesicles. They’re a blend of Doric columns on the outside and dainty Ionic-style pillars in the central hall.

Similar to the Parthenon, the magnificent Propylae are made of white Pentelic marble. They’re only partially complete due to the interruption of the Peloponnesian War. But, they are still a remarkable sight. In fact, some believe the remarkable Propylae could’ve overshadowed the Parthenon if completed.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a large, impressive Greek theatre.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a splendid Greek theatre. It was constructed in 161 AD by Herodes Atticus. The well-known philosopher and philanthropist built it in memory of his lovely wife Regilla.

This open-air theatre was the perfect place for Athenians to indulge their love of a good show. It boasts a vast, three-story-high stage and seating for a whopping 5,000 spectators. Fast forward to today and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus retains its star status. It still hosts concerts, plays and ballets and leaves countless audiences awestruck.

So, grab a ticket and enjoy a modern gig among the ancient stones that have provided entertainment for centuries.

Theatre of Dionysus

The Theatre of Dionysus is thought of as the birthplace of European theatre.

The Theatre of Dionysus was the first theatre built in Greece. As such, it is considered the birthplace of European theatre. This cultural hot spot is where the likes of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides premiered their plays.

Snugly lodged at the foot of the Acropolis, this wonder dates back to the 4th century BC! It was originally made from wood. In later years, it was glammed up with marble under the rule of none other than the city’s patron, Pericles.

The theatre is dedicated to Dionysus, the god of wine and pleasure. With a seating capacity of 17,000, the theatre really knew how to draw a crowd. Dionysus, the legendary party god, had an exclusive seat with his very own walkway. Now that’s what we call VIP treatment!

How to Visit the Acropolis of Athens

The Acropolis of Athens is near the centre of the city and is very easy to get to.

The Acropolis of Athens is open daily. The opening time is 8am and the closing time is 8pm. Opening hours can vary depending on the season, so it is a good idea to check online for current times.

The Acropolis of Athens is, unsurprisingly, one of Europe’s most popular attractions! We recommend avoiding the long queues with a skip-the-line ticket.

The Acropolis of Athens is easy to get to. You can even buy a combination ticket that includes bus travel and admission to the site.

Facts about the Acropolis of Athens

Here are some fascinating Acropolis of Athens facts to impress your friends:

  • High and Mighty. The word “Acropolis” derives from the Greek words “akros” (high) and “polis” (city). So, if you’re afraid of heights, brace yourself!
  • No Lone Ranger. While it might be the apple of our eye, the Acropolis of Athens is not the only acropolis in Greece. There are many all over the country.
  • Sturdy as Stone. The Parthenon is a survivor. It has endured countless wars, fires, and earthquakes over the centuries. Talk about resilience.
  • Museum Bazaar. Can’t get enough of the Acropolis? Make sure you head to The Acropolis Museum, located near the site. It houses many of the original sculptures and artifacts found at the Acropolis.

Get ready for a Greek adventure

So, there you have it! The end of our whirlwind tour of the Acropolis of Athens. We’ve learned about its history, architecture and facts. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply appreciate stunning architecture, the Acropolis of Athens is unmissable.

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Frequently Asked Questions

It takes around 2 to 3 hours. This allows ample time to admire the iconic structures, stroll through the beautful pathways and take in the breathtaking views of Athens. Of course, if you’re a passionate history buff or an architecture aficionado, you might want to spend longer!

Aim to visit either early in the morning or in the late afternoon. Arriving as soon as the gates open at 8am offers a blissful opportunity to explore the site in relative tranquillity. Alternatively, heading to the Acropolis in the late afternoon, a couple of hours before closing time, can also help you beat the crowds as many visitors tend to have left by then.

There isn’t a strict dress code. However, it is advisable to dress respectfully when visiting the Acropolis. Keep in mind that this site holds immense historical and cultural significance. It’s a good idea to wear comfortable clothing and shoes suitable for walking on uneven terrain. Also, bring a hat, sunscreen, and a bottle of water as the Greek sun can be scorching

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