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Propylaea seen from the Lenbachhaus in Munich

As propylon (from ancient Greek πρόπυλον , something outside the gate ' ; plural πρόπυλα Propyla ; also προπύλαιον Propylaion , plural προπύλαια Propylaia , eingedeutscht Propylaea ) is called the gate construction, which in the usually bounded by walls District ( Temenos Greek) sanctuaries, and later in leads to other public buildings and facilities.

The plural form Propylaia or Propyla was used for certain gate structures in ancient times . Since this also applies to smaller door systems, the distinction between the term and propylon remains unclear.


Gate structures in the castle of Tiryns (14th / 13th century BC) are known as early as the Mycenaean period , the basic features of which correspond to the later common shape. After a long interruption, propylon buildings are only documented again in archaic times, initially in the form of rather modest gable structures.

The basic form of the propylon includes a door wall with one, usually with several openings, usually in an odd number. In front of the door wall, wall tongues ( ante ) support a gable-roofed vestibule, supported by columns for larger spans. For free-standing propylon buildings, the double-edged or amphiprostyle construction became the common form.

The Propylaea of ​​the Acropolis of Athens

The Propylaea of ​​the Acropolis of Athens, in classical times under Pericles from the year 437 BC. Built by the architect Mnesikles , they reached an unimaginable size and are the most important and at the same time the most unusual gate construction. It is a complex building . A central building, the actual gate building, has lower halls attached to the sides as wings that encompass the access path and form a forecourt. Further planned additions on the side facing the sanctuary were no longer carried out. The goal wall of the central building is broken through by five gates; the fronts of the building are crowned by gables and each include six Doric columns that are placed in front of the ante. Inside the outer hall, Ionic columns line the central path and support the coffered ceiling and roof.

In Hellenism , the architecturally designed gate construction is most widespread and characterizes the access of every public building. Even in private houses this is formed in a similar way, albeit in a simpler form, as a so-called prothyron.

In the early imperial period , new types of gate structures appeared, so-called arched gates and aediculators , the fronts of which were decorated with aedicules .


  • James R. Carpenter: The Propylon in Greek and Hellenistic Architecture. Pennsylvania University, Pennsylvania 1970 (dissertation).
  • Meral Ortac: The Hellenistic and Roman Propyla in Asia Minor. Ruhr University, Bochum 2003 (dissertation, full text ).

Web links

Commons : Propylon  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Propylon  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations