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Erechtheion Survival Story

Erechtheion

The Erechtheion

The Erechtheion is an ancient Greek temple on the Acropolis of Athens in Greece which was dedicated to Athena and Poseidon. The sculptor of the structure was Phidias, who was employed by Pericles to build both the Erechtheum and the Parthenon. The Erectheum was constructed between 421 – 406 BC and associated with some of the most ancient and holy relics of the Athenians.

It was built entirely of marble with friezes of black limestone which bore sculptures executed in relief in white marble. It had elaborately carved doorways and windows, and its columns were ornately decorated. There are three porches, on the north and east side, the porches have Ionic columns.  The third on the south side facing the Parthenon, is the famous “Porch of the Maidens”, with six draped female figures called Caryatids as supporting columns.

The Erechtheion was burnt and plundered by the Roman general Sulla during the Roman invasion of Athens. It was later repaired and reformed in the 1st century B.C. The building was then altered again during the early Byzantine period when it was transformed into a Christian church dedicated to the Mary, mother of God. Later following further innovations, it became a palace under Frankish rule, and after the Ottoman occupation, it became the residence of the Turkish commander’s harem.

In 1800 one of the Caryatids and a column of the east porch together with sections of the entablature were removed by Lord Elgin to decorate his Scottish mansion. They were later sold to the British Museum where they can be seen today. During the Greek War of Independence, the building was bombarded by the Ottomans and severely damaged, the ceiling of the north porch was blown up together with a large section of the internal walls. Thanks to restoration efforts, today it is miraculous to be able to see this glory of Ancient Athens in this historic building.

Exploring the Ancient Greek Architecture

Reflections

  • Is this ancient temple one the must-see Historic sites?
  • After multiple invasions and attacks, is it a miracle that this building has survived?
  • From a sacred temple with holy relics to an Ottoman harem, have the “Porch of the Maidens” had a front-row seat to Greek History?
  • Initially, a Greek Temple, plundered by Romans, then converted to a Byzantine Christian Church, then a Turkish harem Palace and bombed during War, but, survived to tell the story.

Erechtheum

  • Name:               Erechtheion or Erechtheum
  • Greek:               Ερέχθειο
  • Date:                  421 – 406 BC
  • City:                   Athens
  • Country:           Greece
  • Location:          Athens, Attica, Greece

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Greek Proverbs and Quotes

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“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day.
You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”

– Epicurus

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Photo Credit: JOM

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