The Parthenon: The Creation Of A Masterpiece

What the Acropolis originally looked like.

What the Acropolis originally looked like.

“That which gave most pleasure and ornament to the city of Athens, and the greatest admiration and even astonishment to all strangers, and that which now is Greece’s only evidence that the power she boasts of and her ancient wealth are no romance or idle story”.  Plutarch

The maidens of the Erectheion

The maidens of the Erectheion

Year after year the Acropolis is listed in the top ten list of the places to see before you die. And with good reason; By many engineers and architects, it is considered the most perfect structure ever built. The sculptures and the Parthenon Marbles are of such exquisite craftsmanship and beauty that they almost seem to breathe. If you are receiving this blog then perhaps you have chosen to participate in one of our tours and chances are that you have chosen to visit the Acropolis and hopefully the Acropolis Museum on one of our guided tours. These articles offer a little background information to prepare you for your tour and after reading them you will be able to enjoy a more heightened tour experience.

A.W Lawrence, the classicist, said of the Parthenon that it was “the one building in the world which may be assessed as absolutely right.”  Why is this? Because, to this day, the engineering and the craftsmanship used in designing and building the Parthenon are superior and brilliant even for the advanced technology of the 21st century. For example, did you know that if viewed from the sky the Parthenon forms a perfect equilateral triangle with the Temple of Aphaea, on the island of Aegina, and the Temple of Poseidon, at Cape Sounion?  Or that Phidias, the sculptor who designed the Parthenon, used the “Golden Ratio” in his works because it is the most pleasing to the eye?

The building of the Parthenon

The building of the Parthenon

This idea of perfection-reason, justice, physical beauty, all of them in equilibrium, was invented in Greece in the fifth century before Christ and was without doubt the most extraordinary creation in the whole of history, so complete, so convincing, so satisfying to the mind and the eye, that it lasted practically unchanged for over 600 years!

The sacred temple of the Acropolis

The sacred temple of the Acropolis

Visiting the Acropolis one is left breathless by the sight of the Parthenon, its simple lines, its wealth of sculptural decoration and the brilliance of its marble under the blue Athenian sky. It is the same sensation that the temple caused to the European travelers of the 18th and the 19th centuries, feelings they expressed through their paintings, travelogues and poems.

The visitors of the Acropolis admire the ingenuity of the ancient architects, who 25 centuries ago designed the temple with simple instruments, producing results that even by modern standards are considered astounding. What is ignored or forgotten most of the time, however, is the fact that the beauty of the Parthenon was also the result of ingeniously applied technology and excellent organization and more importantly of hard work conducted by hundreds of artisans. It is the achievements of these artisans which even 21st-century technology finds difficult or even impossible to reproduce.

The Acropolis and City Tour by the Athens Walking Tours

The Acropolis and City Tour by the Athens Walking Tours

Want to learn more about the Parthenon treasures and the people responsible for designing them? Sign up for an Athens Walking Tour and walk into The Golden Age of Athens!

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