Parthenon of Athens in Acropolis | Facts & Architecture

The temple, Parthenon of Athens, is one of the most important landmarks of both the architecture history and Greek culture. It was built in 447-432 BC and located in Acropolis of Athens. The Parthenon was dedicated to Goddess Athena. The reason why is the Parthenon Temple important is that it’s the largest temple of both the Acropolis and the classical Greek architecture. Moreover, it is one of the symbol structures which comes to the mind when the subject is the Democracy of Athens.

The Parthenon of Athena located on the Acropolis is not the original building here. When Persians enter the Athens in 480 BC, the first Temple of Parthenon burnt. You know we have a thought that all temple have the similar color. However, historians said that the original Parthenon in Ancient Greece had the colors of red, blue and golden yellow.

These are among the interesting facts about the Parthenon in Greece. Let’s look at the other facts.

Architectural Facts About the Parthenon of Athens

  • Architects of the Parthenon were Icnitus and Callicrates.
  • The reason behind the why was the parthenon built on the Acropolis was making all city see the building easily. It’s located on the city facing margin of the hill.
Floor plan of the Parthenon
Floor plan of the Parthenon (Herodotus, 2017)
  • Dimensions of the Parthenon are around 30,9 meters by 69,5 meters.
  • The ratio between the width and height of this building is quite to the golden ratio. So much so that, Parthenon at Acropolis is among the first works in which people use the golden ratio in.
  • Architects who designed the building, used limestones in the foundation part. Except this foundation, the main material that Temple of Parthenon made of is the Pentelic marble.
  • The architectural style of the temple is Doric. If you look at the exterior of the structure, you can easily noticed the doric style columns of Parthenon. Moreover, the architectural design of the building is the peak point of the doric order according to most historians (Buyukozer, 2019, para. 2).
  • The temple has a triangle pediment on each side of the roof.
  • As we explained in our article Doric Order architectural elements, triglyphs are the fluted tablets on the frieze.
Details of the pediment of the Parthenon
Details on the pediment of the Parthenon [URL-1]
  • There are gaps, called as metopes, between triglyphs that look like bulges on the forehead. The number of these metopes was 92.
  • The metopes of the Parthenon on the Acropolis witnessed the most magnificent sculpture workmanship of that period. These metopes narrate war stories between Greeks and Amazonians. Furthermore, they also tell the bitter struggles between Troians, gods and giants…
  • The Parthenon sculptor who sculpted all those metopes and statues in the building is Phidias.

Architecture of the Parthenon Temple

If we look at the front facade of the temple, we see the exterior columns closer each other. Additionally, the Parthenon columns have entasis as they are in the most of doric temples. In other words, the middle of the column shafts are fatter.

As you know, doric columns get thinner upwards and its called entasis. This is only one of the optical illusions of the Parthenon Temple. Thanks to these illusion a pillar appears taller than it is. According to Bridge, the Parthenon columns are so much tall so that towards the top they become as thin as an ionic column (2015).

Analysis of the Floor Plan of Parthenon

The floor plan of Parthenon helps us to understand the design and columns order of the structure. According to this plan, the Parthenon of Athens had 46 outer and 23 inner columns. Each one is 20 fluted doric columns. The outer columns are larger than inners in diameter. The base of the building had a 23.000 square foot.

There are two rooms inside the Parthenon, one small and the other big. The big room that welcomes us when we enter from the pronaos is Cella. Columns in single file surround this room. In the Cella, there is Athena sculpture with the height of 12 meters (39 feet). The sculptor of Athena statue in the Parthenon is Phidias. He had made the statue carving woods and covered it with ivory and gold.

Athena statue in the Parthenon Temple
1/1 Model of Athena Statue in the Parthenon Temple – ©Dean Dixon

Historical Use of the Parthenon of Athens

The Greek Parthenon temple was a sacred space which people see it as the symbol of the religious power just as Hagia Sophia. Essentially, serving as a temple, the building was converted into a church in the 6th century. Because, the Christian Byzantine Empire had conquered the Greece and abolished the pagan worship. In the Ottoman Empire period (1456), Ottomans converted it into a mosque and added a minaret.

Drawing of the Parthenon Temple in Ottoman period
Drawing of the Parthenon Temple in Ottoman Period – (Pierre Peytier, 1830’s)

According to the some historical sources, Turks have used the Parthenon as an ammunition store in 1687. When the Venetians fired to the armory, the Parthenon frieze around the Cella wall got damaged seriously. Then, Venetians used the building as a church again when they have a control on Acropolis. For this reason, they destroyed the minaret and added a bell tower. However, there is not a trace of these add-on elements in the structure of Parthenon today.

Finally, Englishes have run sculptures and marble friezes of the Parthenon into British Museum in the 19th century. Some of remaining sculptures are on the New Acropolis Museum. As a result of all these additions, changes and functional transforms, the Parthenon of Ancient Greece is stil standing. The fact that worn out and damaged in the course of history did not diminish anyway the importance of the building.

Visit Parthenon

If you want to visit the Parthenon you can go to the Acropolis of Athens or the nearby New Acropolis Museum. Additionally, for the people who are in the United States, there is a full-scale replica of the temple in the Centennial Park of Nashville, USA.

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