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Parthenon, 2005

The Parthenon ( ancient Greek παρθενών "maiden's chamber ") is the temple for the city goddess Pallas Athena Parthenos on the Athens Acropolis .

It was built as a Doric peripteros to thank the goddess for the rescue of the Athenians and Greeks after the last Persian war . In the course of the history of Greece , the building served, among other things, as the treasury of the Attic League . The Parthenon is one of the most famous surviving architectural monuments of ancient Greece and one of the most famous buildings in the world. As a central structure, the building has dominated the Athens Acropolis for almost 2500 years.

The Parthenon replaced an older temple of Athena, the so-called Pre-Parthenon, which was built during the Persian conquest of Athens in 480 BC. Had been destroyed. In the 6th century AD, the temple was converted into a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary . Redesigned as a mosque under the Ottomans , the Parthenon housed an ammunition dump during the war against Venice . In 1687 this was hit by a bullet, which exploded and severely damaged the temple. Large parts of his building decoration were stolen by Lord Elgin in 1801 and brought to London . The dispute over the return of these so-called Elgin Marbles continues to this day.

The name "Parthenon"

The origin of the name is not definitely clear. At first this seems to have only designated a certain room in the temple. According to one theory, the “Parthenon” was the room in which four selected young girls, the Arrephoroi , wove the peplos that was given to Athena on the occasion of the Panathenaic Mountains . According to another theory, the cult of the Parthenos was an independent Athena cult, which, although closely related to the Athena Polias, was not to be equated. It is generally assumed that the “Parthenon” referred to the temple of the virgin Athena. In addition, it has been suggested that the name alludes to the virgins ( Parthenoi ), whose sacrifices kept the city safe.

The oldest tradition of the name "Parthenon", which also referred to the entire structure, comes from Demosthenes from the 4th century BC. While the temple in the 5th century BC. BC simply ho naos (Attic: ho neos ), the temple, was called. Its architects Iktinos and Kallikrates are said to have called the building Hekatompedos 'centipedes' in their treatise on the temple . Finally, Plutarch mentions the building as the Hecatompedon Parthenon .


The first project to build a temple on the site of what would later become the Parthenon began soon after the Battle of Marathon . For this purpose, the Acropolis was massively poured up near its top and a wide plateau was created. The foundations of the temple were uncovered between 1885 and 1890 by Panagiotis Kavvadias and examined archaeologically by Wilhelm Dörpfeld . From this foundation two stone layers made of Poros and a final one made of Karrha limestone were preserved. On top of them rose the substructure, the Krepis , of the later classical Parthenon. The foundation was a bit narrower and shifted further north, which made it clear that it must have served another building. Remains of the column drums originally on it were later built into the surrounding wall of the Acropolis north of the Erechtheion .

This temple, known in science as the “Vorparthenon”, was apparently not yet completed when the Persians in 480 BC. BC conquered Athens and destroyed all the buildings on the Acropolis. The associated dating of the start of construction in the time before 480 BC. However, the question arises why the Athenians should have waited more than 30 years to begin the restoration. So the thesis emerged that the pre-Parthenon was only planned and started under Kimon in the 460s or 450s, i.e. after the destruction of the Acropolis by the Persians. After Kimon's death in 449 the work was not continued; his successor and domestic political opponent Pericles had him removed in order to manifest himself and the democratic party he represented with his own building. As a result, the Parthenon building is a reflection of the internal political disputes between the oligarchic and the democratic party. The objection to the late dating, however, is that fire damage can still be proven on the stones of the Vorparthenon. The argument that the Athenians could have waited more than 30 years to begin building the new Parthenon is the oath of Plataiai , in which the Greeks swore not to rebuild temples destroyed by the Persians. The Athenians would not benefit from this oath until the Peace of Callias in 449 BC. Was given birth. The excavations of the 19th century, which were not carried out properly, do not allow a final decision on this question. The majority of Parthenon researchers stop at the start of construction of the Vorparthenon after the Battle of Marathon, i.e. after 490 and before 480 BC. Chr., Firmly.

Judging by the column drums that have been preserved, the rising architecture of the Vorparthenon should be made of Pentelic marble . When the later Parthenon was built, significant changes were made to the plan of the Vorparthenon. The columnar hall ( peristasis ) of the pre-Parthenon had 6 columns on the front sides, as was common in the Greek motherland at that time, but was anciently elongated with 16 columns on the long sides. The Parthenon was given a ring hall of 8 by 17 columns, with the overall width and significantly reduced overall length, so that the floor plan proportion corresponded to the ideal of the time. The core building ( Naos ) of the Vorparthenon was significantly narrower in relation to the overall width of the building. The fronts of the pronaos and opisthodom therefore certainly had only three yokes and thus either two columns in antis or prostyle four-column porches. The Parthenon was to have six-column prostyle naos fronts. The cella of the Vorparthenon had the usual three-aisled structure, which was formed by two rows of columns inside. In the west, as was the case with the Parthenon, was connected to an almost square room, the ceiling of which was supported by four columns.

Parthenon structure

Dusk at the Parthenon
Parthenon, floor plan

The Parthenon was founded on the initiative of Pericles , one of the leading politicians in Athens in the 5th century BC. BC, erected. The building supervision was carried out by the sculptor Phidias , who supervised the sculptural work and carried out some of it himself. The architects who designed the temple were Iktinos , who later also built the Temple of Apollo at Bassae , and Kallikrates , who was later responsible for the Temple of Nikes on the Acropolis. The actual construction work began in 447 BC. And ended in 438 BC. BC, the work on the building decoration lasted until at least 433 BC. Chr. Overall, the construction time was unusually short for the conditions at the time. Some records of the construction and material costs have been preserved, for example the most expensive items show the transport costs for the Pentelic marble , which was mined 16 kilometers away, to Athens. In the Parthenon the 454 BC Treasure of the Attic League brought to Athens in BC . Plutarch gives us an impressive picture of the range of skilled workers that were needed to build the temple in such a short time: carpenters, blacksmiths, stonemasons, gilders, softeners of ivory, painters, stickers, lathe operators, assistants, foremen, and seamen and helmsmen, carters and horse breeders, rope and cloth makers, leather workers, road builders and miners.

Ring hall

The temple, made entirely of Pentelic marble , rose on a three-tiered crepe . The pillars of the six-pillar prostyle vestibules were raised by two more steps . This also dictated the height of the cella floor. Measured on the top step of the Krepis, the stylobate , the area was 30.86 × 69.51 meters. Including the entablature, the temple was 13.72 meters high, measured from the stylobate. The cella was 29.80 meters long and 19.20 meters wide. 8 × 17 columns of Doric order formed the columnarea, the peristasis . This distinguishes the Parthenon from earlier Doric temples, which usually only had six-columned fronts. While Ionic temples with eight-columned fronts had a double column wreath, at the Parthenon the cella was extended by two yokes . Because of the strong contraction of Eckjoche - about 61.5 centimeters instead of the 47.7 expected centimeters - and the unusually narrow column position of the fronts whose intercolumniations almost 1 1 / 4 reached the lower column diameter, the porticoes of the long sides are particularly closely in relation to Overall design. The outer columns have a diameter of 1.90 meters and are 10.43 meters high, the corner columns were designed 4.3 centimeters thicker. The columns were composed of 10-12 drums and each had 20 fluting . The interfaces showed anathyrosis . The proportions of the columns are very elongated, the entablature and the surrounding geison , on the other hand, are relatively low with a total height of 3.29 meters. The simple Doric architrave and the triglyphone have the same height on the Parthenon, while the architrave was always higher than the triglyphone on older Doric temples. On the architrave, Alexander the Great had some shields hung, which were taken from the booty after the Battle of Granicus in 334 BC. Came from. This was the first intrusion into the exterior of the temple. In AD 61, the Athenians had an inscription for Nero placed between the shields on the architrave to flatter the Roman emperor.

Because of the strong corner contraction of the pillars on the Parthenon, the effect that was actually to be achieved was overcompensated for. Instead of creating a compensation for the expected position of the corner metopes , sometimes supported by an expansion of this, the metopes at the Parthenon had to be narrowed towards the corners as a result of the indented corner pillars. This happened across several metopes. At the Parthenon, the difference between the largest and smallest metope widths was 10.5 centimeters. As was customary at the time, two metopes stood over an intercolumnium. The metopes of the triglyphone were carved. The entablature was crowned by a rod of pearl, which is unusual for a Doric temple . This was followed by the Doric Geison with its mutulus plates and the Sima , the latter also raised on the sloping gable and decorated with three-colored flower friezes. Two multi-figure groups filled the pediment. The roof was covered with marble tiles. Colorful antefixes in the shape of palmettes adorned the eaves sides of the temple, at the corners of which there was a lion's head gargoyle for the drainage of the eaves water. The ridge and the gable corners have intricately entwined acanthus ornaments as acroters . The coffered ceiling of the ring hall, painted with colored flower motifs, was also made of marble.


Six Doric columns each stood amphiprostyle in front of the front and back of the actual naos , the core structure of the temple. They were slightly smaller than the pillars of the peristasis. Indentations on their fragments suggest that they were originally connected by wooden shear walls that formed a self-contained pronaos and opisthodom . A continuous Ionic figure frieze ran along the upper end of the outer cella walls and over the architraves of the prostyle halls . The ante of the pronaos and opisthodom were shortened to short pillars.

One entered the cella through a 4.92 meter wide and 10 meter high door. It had a three-sided inner colonnade of Doric order, which, in order to reach the necessary height, was two-story like in interiors of the time. It carried the wooden ceiling, decorated with paintings and gold, and supported the roof, spanning the enormous width. The 10.60 meter clear width of the central nave remained unmatched in the Greek motherland. Short pillars in extension of the lateral column positions on the front and rear walls suggest the reconstruction of a wooden ceiling that is probably accessible at the level of the beams of the lower column position. The colossal gold and ivory cult image of Athena Parthenos, created by Phidias , rose to a height of about 11 meters in front of the rear column position of the cella . The corresponding base made of dark marble was 4.09 × 8.04 meters in size and about 1.20 meters high. The birth of Pandora was depicted in flat relief on the side walls of the base from appliquéd ivory panels. At least at the time of Pausanias there was a water basin in front of the statue, which ensured sufficient humidity so that the delicate ivory of the Athena statue did not become brittle and crack. Traces of this basin, which was probably built in later, have not survived. In Hadrianic times the Athenians donated a colossal statue of the ruler to the temple and had it placed next to the statue of Athena.

On the west side of the naos there is another room, only 13.36 meters deep, the wooden ceiling of which was supported by four columns of Ionic order . It is true that only the base plates of these columns have been preserved; Since a two-storey column order can be ruled out due to the arrangement of these plates forming a square, the columns must have belonged to the more slenderly proportioned Ionic order. The original function of this room is unclear, but from the 4th century onwards, like the opisthodom, it was used to hold the temple treasures and all the goddess's festival utensils. This is where the silver-footed stool was, for example, on which Xerxes I was sitting at the battle of Salamis . Plutarch reports that Demetrios I Poliorketes in 304 BC. BC lodged in the opisthodom of the Temple of Athena, but presumably he used the same western area instead of the rather small "Opisthodom".

Design and refinements

The basic proportions of the building were determined by the ratio of the front pillars to the pillars on the long sides. Greek architects used the formula “front pillars: flank pillars = n: (2n + 1)” as a classic solution. The same proportion runs through the entire Parthenon, in which not only the column positions with 8 × 17 columns follow the same formula, but all other design dimensions reduced to the ratio 4: 9. The column diameter to the column spacing was determined by this, the aspect ratio of the stylobate follows it, including the naos without ante. Temple width to temple height up to the horizontal geison is determined by the ratio 9: 4, and this is followed by the ratio of temple length to temple height, which is 81:16, increased to a square ratio. The basic unit here was the Attic foot at 29.80 centimeters. The length of the cella corresponded to 100 feet, which earned the temple at Plutarch the name Hekatompedon .

The stylobate has a curvature upward curvature of 60 millimeters on the narrow sides and 110 millimeters on the long sides, which was reflected in all the following structural elements of the rising architecture. At the same time, the columns showed a slight swelling, the entasis , the acceleration of their already weakly pronounced tapering began after 2/5 column height. At the same time, the columns were slightly inclined inwards by 7.4 centimeters. This internal inclination, inclination , also continued in the entablature. The exterior of the cella walls also followed. Thus no visible component, no block of the temple was torn up like a second one. Today this allows each preserved stone to be assigned its position on the former building through precise measurement and observation, which is of fundamental importance for the reconstruction of the temple.

According to Vitruvius , Iktinos and a certain Carpion - possibly a transcription error from Kallikrates - left behind a theoretical work on the Parthenon that unfortunately has not survived.

Building decoration

Metope triglyph frieze and left corner of the east pediment
Frieze plates from the Parthenon

The Parthenon was decorated with intricate marble sculptures both inside and out. These are only partially preserved, but there are detailed descriptions of the destroyed parts. In addition, in 1674, just a few years before the Parthenon was destroyed, the French draftsman Jacques Carrey made drawings of the building and its pictorial decorations, which at that time were still in good condition.


The outer wall of the cella was crowned with a frieze showing the great procession during the Panathenaic Mountains , the largest annual festival in honor of Athena. On the fourth, eastern side of the entrance, a gathering of all the gods of the Greek Olympus was depicted, with the exception of Hades and Hestia . The starting point of the 160 meter long depiction was the southwest corner of the cella. From there the procession strives on the west and north sides from right to left, on the south side from left to right. Both trains meet on the east side. Here the newly woven peplos is handed over to Athena. The handover takes place in the center of the composition, directly above the entrance to the cella of the temple. Seated groups of gods accompany the handover, chat, but turn their backs on the people who are also present. All the important gods are present. At the head of the man-made pageant you can see girls accompanied by older men, probably phyllo heroes or magistrates of the city, and stewards of the pageant are also shown. On the long sides of the cella one saw young men with sacrificial animals, riding youth, older men, musicians, water carriers, here and there ideal typical representations of landscape, boulders.


Battle of Centaur against Lapith - Metope from the Parthenon

The 92 metope reliefs on the four sides of the temple showed mythical battle scenes: on the south side the battle between Lapiths and Centaurs , on the east side the battle of the gods against the giants and on the west side the battle between Greeks and Amazons . Only a few fragments of the depictions of the north side have survived; they show scenes from the Trojan War . In general, the state of preservation of the metopes is very different. Only a large part of the metopes from the south side is well preserved and today belongs to the so-called Elgin Marbles. The center of this row of metopes fell victim to the shelling by the Venetians in 1687. The figures of the metopes on the east and west sides were chopped off by icon-storming Christians and are now mostly only recognizable in outlines.

In the gigantomachy of the east side, the direction of movement of the overall composition led to the center of the triglyphone. At the same time, this steady striving is canceled out by counter-movements in Metope 4 from the north with the fighting Athena and Metope 11 with Apollo. Metope 10 with Herakles, who was decisive for the fight, is set as a central composition and thereby underlines the importance of this section of the fight for the events. The center of the frieze side is occupied by the fight of Zeus, whose chariot is driven by his wife Hera. Hermes, Dionysus, Ares, Amphitrite and their consort Poseidon, Artemis, Hephaestus and Helios are depicted on other gods.

The movement concept is reversed on the southern metopes. From a relatively static center, the interpretation of which is controversial - part of the battle of the Lapiths against the Centaurs or Attic land sagas - the majority of the representations strive to the corners of the triglyph frieze. Nevertheless, the scheme is broken here by counter-movements.

The design concept of the north side cannot be assessed in summary because of the poor state of preservation. Scenes from the Trojan War and the fall of Troy, the Iliupersis are presented: the camp of the Greeks, gods present, heroes like Menelaus, Aphrodite with Helena next to a statue, Anchises with little Aeneas.

The heavily damaged metopes on the west side with their depiction of the struggle against the Amazons seem like the metopes on the east side to be subject to a composition tending towards the center.


Horsehead from the chariot of Selene, Parthenon, east gable
Horse head fragment from the chariot of Athena, west pediment

The triangular gable fields were 28.35 meters wide, at their highest point 3.46 meters high, but only 0.91 meters deep. The period between 439 and 433 BC Chr. Freestanding gable figures were therefore formed clearly larger than life. It is assumed that over 20 figures were housed per gable field. If you entered the Acropolis through the Propylaea , you first saw the west side of the temple with its large gable figures, here with Athena's fight against Poseidon for the possession of the Attica landscape. The birth of Athenas was depicted on the east gable.

This gable on the eastern entrance side with the birth of the fully developed and already armed Athena from the head of Zeus was the main gable. His overall composition begins with the ascending Helios , the sun god, in his carriage in the left gable corner. As a counterpart one saw the setting Selene , the moon goddess, with her carriage in the opposite gable corner. A resting male figure follows Helios towards the center of the gable. This figure is mostly interpreted as Dionysus or Heracles , but also as the mountain god Olympos . It is followed by three female figures, partly sitting and partly standing, who could be Persephone , Demeter and Iris or the three Moiren , the goddesses of fate. The center of the composition was occupied by Zeus and Hephaestus , the obstetrician of Athena, as well as Athena herself. Hephaestus had just split Zeus' head with one blow to relieve him of his headache. Athena appears from the gap. A group of three female figures follows to the right in the now descending sloping gable. They are addressed as Hestia , Amphitrite or Leto sitting in the background with Dione , Themis or Artemis in front of them, followed on the right by Aphrodite , who is lying down . Finally, Vinzenz Brinkmann took up the interpretation of the two seated figures as hearing , to which he placed the local nymph Attike as a resting figure . Closing the day of the birth, Selene followed.

Possible reconstruction of the west pediment

The west gable showed the dispute over the Attic land, in the middle the profitable olive tree of Athena dominated. Next to this was the salt spring, Poseidon's mission, which however did not help him to victory. Numerous deities, but also Athenians, filled the enlarged center of the gable. Hermes , Nike , Iris, Athena and Poseidon, who drive up to the competition in their chariots, accompanied by their charioteers, Nike for Athena, Amphitrite for Poseidon. Kekrops , the referee, and his family, heroes cavorted here. The spandrels were occupied by river and spring deities - Kephisos , Ilissos and Eridanos , also Kallirrhoe - who represent the landscape of Attica as a whole. Most of the figures are badly damaged, only drawings by travelers from earlier times provide information about the composition.


The Parthenon was painted at least in places. To what extent and in which colors, however, is still controversial today. It is known that the ceilings inside were dark blue, while the images in the gables were light tones. A pigment called Egyptian blue was found on parts of the gable decoration, the so-called Elgin Marbles kept in the British Museum . The thesis was put forward that the upper part of the Parthenon was painted in a light blue and red, so that the sculptures emerged more clearly when viewed from below.

The cult image of Athena Parthenos

Varvakion statuette, Athens ( National Museum 129), replica of Athena Parthenos
Plaster cast of the so-called Strangford shield, Pushkin Museum , a copy of the shield of the Parthenos

In his travelogue to Greece, Pausanias narrated the appearance of the colossal Athena statue of Phidias:

“The statue itself is made of ivory and gold. In the middle of her helmet you can see a sphinx ... and on the sides of the helmet there are griffin reliefs ... The statue of Athena stands upright, is clad in a chiton that reaches down to the feet, on the chest is the head of Medusa made of ivory . Athena holds a Nike four ells high in one hand and a lance in the other. At her feet is a shield and near the lance is a snake, probably Erichthonios . On the statue base you can see the birth of Pandora as a relief. "

It can be assumed that work on the statue began when construction began on the sanctuary. With the completion of the temple in 438 BC It was consecrated.

Bronze and gold plates as well as the ivory, which was used for visible skin areas and the gorgoneion, were mounted over a wooden frame. Remnants of this wooden structure have been preserved in the area of ​​the once approximately 1.20 meter high base. The gold alone weighed 44 talents, around 1150 kilograms, and comprised part of the treasure administered by the Attic League. The gold plates were removable to check the gold holdings of the treasure. Calculations showed that the gold plates could not have been thicker than 1.5 millimeters.

Although it cannot be reconstructed in detail, one gets a certain impression of the former appearance of the colossal picture from scaled-down replicas, coins and gems. The so-called Varvakion statuette is considered the best replica in this regard. The 1.05-meter According statuette Athena was - contrary to the testimony of Pausanias - a belted at the waist peplum , about the decorated with snake aegis with the head of Medusa in the middle of the chest. Athena's left free leg was set slightly to one side. The toes of the goddess, who accordingly wore high sandals, appear under the robe. According to written tradition, the sole edges were decorated with reliefs of a Kentauchomachy, which, however, has not survived in any of the greatly reduced copies of Athena Parthenos. The middle plume of the goddess's helmet was worn by a sphinx, the two on the sides were worn by Pegasoi . The raised cheek pieces were decorated with griffin reliefs. The four ells, or about 2 meters, high Nike in the right hand of the goddess, handed down from Pausanias, is supported by a column under the hand of the Varvakion statuette. Whether this detail follows the original is disputed. In her left hand Athena held the edge of her shield, on the inside of which a snake, the castle snake, coiled up. The shield itself, the outside of which was decorated with an Amazonomachy in relief, while the inside had a painted gigantomachy, is also preserved as an ancient copy.

According to an ancient tradition, the multi-figure shield of Athena should have depicted Phidias and Pericles, even if it was already difficult for ancient viewers to identify the corresponding figures.

What happened to the statue in the course of time is only very fragmentary. Allegedly, golden parts of the cult image were made around 300 BC. Melted down by Lachares to pay mercenaries. If this is the case, they were added again later, as Pausanias was still describing them around 170 AD. It is said to have stood in the Parthenon until the 4th century AD, but was then brought to Constantinople, where its trace is lost. Subsequent reports in this regard are unclear and do not provide any information about their further whereabouts.

Another story

The Parthenon in the 19th century
The damaged south side

The Parthenon remained as one of the most important temples of ancient Greek religion for more than a thousand years. It has been proven that it was completely preserved in the 4th century. However, at that time Athens was only a provincial city in the Roman Empire , albeit with a great past. In the early 5th century, the statue of Athena Parthenus was brought to Constantinople by one of the Roman emperors , where it was later lost, possibly during the sacking of the city during the Fourth Crusade in 1204.

After the Christianization of the Parthenon was used as a Christian church and Maria consecrated. The conversion into a church went hand in hand with the removal of the inner columns and some walls of the cella and the construction of an apse . Some of the sculptures fell victim to this, those showing pagan gods may have been deliberately destroyed, others sometimes reappeared elsewhere.

When Athens came under Ottoman rule in 1456 , the Parthenon became a mosque . The only modification added to the Parthenon was a minaret ; European travelers of the 17th century reported that the building was otherwise intact.

In 1687, the Parthenon was badly damaged when the Venetians besieged Athens. The Ottomans had fortified the Acropolis and used the Parthenon as a powder chamber. When a Venetian cannonball - fired from a gun battery on Philopappos Hill - hit the chamber on September 26th, the Parthenon exploded and was partially destroyed. The interior structure was damaged, the remaining parts of the roof structure collapsed, as did the north and south flanks. As a result, the figurative jewelry was also damaged. There is an eyewitness report written a few days after the incident by the Swede Anna Åkerhielm . Numerous fragments were later taken away by travelers as souvenirs. After the explosion, the building was no longer used, later a small mosque with a dome was built inside. The apse of the early Christian church was demolished in 1836, the mosque in 1842. In the same year, a temporary museum was built in the cella, but this was removed again in 1845.


Athens Acropolis with Parthenon 2013
Partial reconstruction work

Many Europeans visited Athens in the late 18th century. The picturesque ruins of the Parthenon were a popular motif for drawings and paintings, which ultimately also fostered sympathy for Greek independence in Great Britain and France . In 1801, the British ambassador to Constantinople , Thomas Bruce , 7th Earl of Elgin and 11th Earl of Kincardine, received a permit ( ferman ) from the Sultan to make casts and drawings of the ancient buildings on the Acropolis and, if necessary, to tear down younger buildings and sculptures remove to reveal the view. He interpreted this permission to mean that he could take possession of any sculpture he could find. He had numerous broken out (including almost the entire frieze and most of the preserved gable figures), some he collected from the ground and still others he bought from locals. He justified the action, which was already dubbed an art theft, as an attempt to save it from further destruction.

Today most of these reliefs and sculptures are in the British Museum as Elgin Marbles . A few others are in the Louvre and Copenhagen. Most of the leftover pieces are in the Acropolis Museum . There are only copies left on the building itself. The Greek government has been demanding the Parthenon sculptures back from the British Museum for years. To this day, the museum refuses to acknowledge the ownership claims and all previous British governments have refused to put pressure on the museum in this direction.

When independent Greece gained control of Athens in 1832, all medieval and Ottoman buildings were removed from the Acropolis. The area has been declared an archaeological site by law and is subject to official administration. Two years later, surveying and restoration work began on the Parthenon. Karl Friedrich Schinkel designed a castle on the Acropolis, but ultimately the design on Syntagma Square was given preference. The castle would have blocked the view of the Parthenon from the city on three sides.

Later restorations were carried out in the 1920s by Nikolaos Balanos and again from 1986 (among other things to repair the damage caused by the use of iron clips in the earlier restoration). They continue and also include the other Acropolis buildings.

Today the site attracts millions of tourists from around the world each year who march up the path from the western end of the Acropolis through the Propylaea, also under restoration, and along the Panathenaic Way to the Parthenon, which is surrounded by a low fence for protection.

Visitors have not been allowed to enter the building since the 1960s. Since the 1970s, damage to the building from environmental influences increased noticeably and reached its peak in the 1980s, so that it was even considered to protect the building with a tent or glass / steel structure. Part of the building jewelry was replaced by replicas to be on the safe side. Furthermore, vibrations from city traffic endanger the foundation and promote the erosion of the marble. The traffic load in Athens has decreased due to the restriction of individual traffic (e.g. through more pedestrian zones) and the expansion of local public transport, and the earlier daily smog in summer has also become a rarity despite rising temperatures. Even so, the backup of the Parthenon is not complete. Progress has also been made in conservation.


In addition to the numerous scaled down copies, for example in amusement parks or in museums of architecture and antiquity, two buildings exist as replicas in their original size. A replica of the Parthenon is located in Nashville , Tennessee . It was created in the context of the "Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition" (world exhibition on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of Tennessee's union) in 1897 from plaster of paris, wood and bricks and renewed in the 1920s from concrete. A colossal copy of the statue of Athena was added in 1990. The Nashville Parthenon is painted in multiple colors to mimic the original appearance of the original. A plaster model, which was made in Paris around 1889 and was shown at the Paris World Exhibition in 1896, has been on permanent loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Museum for Casts of Classical Art in Munich since June 2005 .

A model of the Parthenon is also part of the architectural icons collection by the architect Oswald Mathias Ungers . The Cologne graduate designer and architectural model maker Bernd Grimm created a miniature of the building from alabaster plaster on a scale of 1:50. For the model of the Parthenon alone, Grimm needed 200 kilograms of plaster and over a year of construction.

From autumn 2016, the Parthenon was recreated from books on Kassel's Friedrichsplatz. It was a work of art for documenta 14, which was held in Kassel and Athens in 2017 .

The Walhalla near Regensburg can also be considered a copy of the Parthenon . It should be noted, however, that the architect Leo von Klenze copied the building, but also deviated from the original in the sense of classicism without any break in style, for example in the case of architectural decorations. In addition, the intricacies of the building, such as entasis , curvature , etc., were not yet known to him, so that the Valhalla has a different effect than the Parthenon on the viewer.



  • The Parthenon. (OT: Secrets of the Parthenon. ) Documentary, France, USA, 2008, 78 min., Script and director: Gary Glassman , production: WGBH-TV / Nova, Studio International, arte France, German first broadcast: January 23, 2010, Summary of arte, film side of the PBS (engl.)

Web links

Commons : Parthenon  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: παρθένος  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. Jeffrey M. Hurwit: The Athenian Acropolis: History, Mythology, and Archeology from the Neolithic Era to the Present . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2001, pp. 161-163.
  2. Christopher Pelling : Greek Tragedy and the Historian . Oxford University Press, Oxford 1997, ISBN 0-19-814987-5 , p. 169.
  3. James Whitley: The Archeology of Ancient Greece . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2001 ISBN 0-521-62733-8 , p. 352.
  4. Plutarch, Pericles April 13.
  5. ^ Wilhelm Dörpfeld: The older Parthenon . In: Communications from the German Archaeological Institute Athens Department . Volume 17, 1892, pp. 158-189; Wilhelm Dörpfeld: The time of the older Parthenon . In: Communications from the German Archaeological Institute Athens Department . Volume 27, 1902, pp. 379-416.
  6. Herodotus, Histories 8, 53.
  7. Panagiotis Kavvadias, Georg Kawerau : The excavation of the Acropolis from 1885 to 1890 . 1906; Heiner Knell : Periclean architecture . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1979, ISBN 3-534-08019-X , pp. 6-11.
  8. Heiner Knell: Perikleische Baukunst . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1979, pp. 6-11.
  9. Gottfried Gruben : The temples of the Greeks . 5th edition. Hirmer, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-7774-8460-1 , pp. 171-172.
  10. Peter Siewert : The oath of Plataiai . Munich 1972, pp. 98-102; Gottfried Gruben: The temples of the Greeks . 5th edition. Hirmer, Munich 2001, p. 162.
  11. Gottfried Gruben: The temples of the Greeks .5. Edition. Hirmer, Munich 2001, pp. 171–172. For discussion see also: William Bell Dinsmoor : The Date of the Older Parthenon . In: American Journal of Archeology . Volume 38, 1934, pp. 408-48; Wilhelm Dörpfeld: Parthenon I, II, III . In: American Journal of Archeology . Volume 39, 1935, pp. 497-507; William Bell Dinsmoor in: American Journal of Archeology . Volume 39, 1935, pp. 508-509
  12. to the documents: Inscriptiones Graecae I3 1, 1981, 431ff. No. 436-461.
  13. Plutarch, Pericles 12, 13.
  14. Manolis Korres : The Plan of the Parthenon. In: Communications from the German Archaeological Institute Athens Department. Volume 109, 1994, pp. 53-120, plates 18-24; Exceptions to the Doric order with eight-columned fronts are the Temple of Artemis in Corfu ( Gerhart Rodenwaldt : Korkyra. Vol. 1: Der Artemisempel. Mann, Berlin 1940) and the older Olympieion in Athens, neither of which had any influence on the design of the Parthenon.
  15. ^ Hermann Büsing : Einheitsjoch and triglyphon on the Parthenon . In: Canon. Festschrift for Ernst Berger . 1988, pp. 2-3.
  16. ^ Pausanias 5:11 , 5.
  17. Plutarch, Demetrios 23.
  18. Plutarch, Pericles 13, 4.
  19. Vitruvius 7 pref. 12.
  20. ^ Frank Brommer : The Parthenon Frieze . 2 volumes. 1977; EB Harrison: The Web of History: A Conservative Reading of the Parthenon Frieze . In: J. Neils (Ed.): Worshiping Athena. Panathenaia and Parthenon . 1996, pp. 198-214.
  21. General to the metopes: Frank Brommer: Die Metopen des Parthenon . 2 volumes. 1967; Ernst Berger: The Parthenon in Basel. Documentation on the metopes . 2 volumes. 1986; I. Trianti: New observations on the Parthenon metopes . In: Communications from the German Archaeological Institute Athens Department . Volume 107, 1992, pp. 187-197.
  22. ^ Vinzenz Brinkmann: The Sculptures of the Parthenon. In: ders. (Ed.): Athens. Triumph of images. Michael Imhof Verlag, Petersberg 2016, pp. 52–61, here: p. 53.
  23. ^ Frank Brommer: The sculptures of the Parthenon gable. 2 volumes. 1963; Jerome Jordan Pollitt: Patriotism and the West Pediment of the Parthenon . In: Periplous. Commemorative publication for John Boardman . 2000, pp. 220-227.
  24. Nature, doi: 10.1038 / news.2009.574 : Traces of paint confirmed on Parthenon sculptures (June 15, 2009); see also: Parthenon in color. In: June 17, 2009, accessed September 9, 2019 .
  25. Pausanias 1, 24, 5-7.
  26. ^ Frank Brommer : Athena Parthenos . Bremen 1957, p. 5f.
  27. For the assignment to the original: Neda Leipen: Athena Parthenos: Problems of Reconstruction. In: Ernst Berger (Ed.): Parthenon Congress Basel: Lectures and reports April 4 to 8, 1982 . Zabern, Mainz 1984, p. 179; against an assignment: Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway : Parthenon and Parthenos. In: Festschrift for Jale Inan . Basgelen, Istanbul 1989, p. 298.
  28. To the shield: Volker Michael Strocka : The shield relief - to the state of research . In: Ernst Berger (Ed.): Parthenon Congress Basel: Lectures and reports April 4 to 8, 1982 . Zabern, Mainz 1984, pp. 188-196; Ingrid Krauskopf : The shield of the Parthenos and the type of Medusa Rondanini - Taranto, Orvieto and Athens . In: Lectures from the symposium of the German Archaeological Association: Art and culture in the Magna Graecia - Your relationship to the Greek motherland and to the Italian environment. Municipal Museum of Rheydt Castle 8. – 10. January 1988 (= writings of the German Association of Archaeologists. Vol. 11). Tübingen 1990, pp. 22-34.
  29. ^ Evelyn B. Harrison: The Composition of the Amazonomachy on the Shield of Athena Promachos . In: Hesperia . Volume 35, 1966, pp. 107-133.
  30. Plutarch, Pericles 31, 4; Dion Chrysostom 12, 6.
  31. Pausanias 1,25,7 ; Plutarch, Isis, and Osiris 71 ; Oxyrhynchus Papyri XVII 2082 = FGrHist 257a F4
  32. ^ Mary Beard : The Parthenon. Harvard University Press, Cambridge [Mass.] 2003, pp. 80 f.
  33. Compare the contemporary statements in August Kuhn: Der Freimüthige or Unterhaltungsblatt for educated, impartial readers. Berlin 1823, p. 420; Maximilian Löwenthal: Sketches from the diary of a trip through France, Great Britain and Germany. Wallishausser, Vienna 1825, p. 30; Hermann Pückler-Muskau : South-eastern picture room. Volume 2. Hallberger, Stuttgart 1840, p. 311 f. ( Google Books ).
  34. ^ Thomas Weaver: Model Maker Grimm . In: The Architectural Association (Ed.): AA Files 73 . London 2016, p. 100 .
  35. Oliver Elser: The collection of architectural models based on own and historical drafts . In: Andres Lepik (ed.): OM Ungers: Kosmos der Architektur . Hatje Cantz Verlag, Berlin 2006, ISBN 978-3-7757-1820-2 , p. 41 .
  36. documenta is planning a huge building made of 100,000 books in Kassel

Coordinates: 37 ° 58 '17.4 "  N , 23 ° 43' 35.7"  E