A History of Ancient Greece

The Glory That Was Greece

Author: Jewsbury, Lewis

Date: 1992

The Acropolis

Acropolis (Greek akros,"highest"; polis,"city"), term originally applied to any fortified natural stronghold or citadel in ancient Greece. Primarily a place of refuge, the typical acropolis was constructed on a hill or eminence rising precipitously from the surrounding region. Because of the protection thus afforded, the area adjacent to the base of the hill frequently became the site of a city. These acropolises include Acrocorinth at Corinth and the Cadmea at Thebes.

Lower defense walls were erected in certain cities, with the result that the acropolises, no longer useful as military bastions, were used as sites for temples and public buildings. The citadel of ancient Athens is traditionally referred to as the Acropolis. Built on a limestone hill about 150 m (about 500 ft) high, it dominates the city and houses the remains of some of the finest extant examples of classical architecture. Included are remains of the Parthenon, a Doric temple; the Propylaea, a monumental marble gateway on the west and the main entrance to the Acropolis; the Erechtheum, a temple famous for perfect detail; and the Temple of Athena Nike. These masterpieces were built in the Golden Age of Athens during the reign of Pericles. Later damaged and neglected, some of the buildings were gradually restored after the Greek monarchy was established in 1833.

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