Acropolis of Athens – a Significant European Cultural Heritage

Visiting Athens for the first time, even if just for a few hours, you must pay a visit to Acropolis, the Sacred Rock. Both Acropolis and Parthenon, the greatest temple on the rock, dedicated to the goddess Athena, are visible from about  every every neighborhood of Athens.

Travel to Athens, Greece - temple at Acropolis
Erechtheion Temple at Acropolis in Athens

Acropolis of Athens – the best known in the world

The Acropolis of Athens or Citadel of Athens is the best known acropolis (Gr. akros,  edge, extremity + polis, city) in the world. Although there are many other acropoleis (plur) in Greece, the significance of the Acropolis of Athens is such that it is commonly known as The Acropolis without qualification. The Acropolis was formally proclaimed as the preeminent monument on the European Cultural Heritage list of monuments on 26 March 2007. The Acropolis is a flat-topped rock that rises 150 m (490 ft) above sea level in the city of Athens, with a surface area of about 3 hectares. It was also known as Cecropia, after the legendary serpent-man, Cecrops, the first Athenian king.

Acropolis site plan

Site plan of the Acropolis in Athens showing the major archaeological remains

Parthenon Old Temple of Athena Erechtheum Statue of Athena Promachos Propylaea Temple of Athena Nike Eleusinion Sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia or Brauroneion Chalkotheke Pandroseion Arrephorion Altar of Athena Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus Sanctuary of Pandion Odeon of Herodes Atticus Stoa of Eumenes Sanctuary of Asclepius or Asclepieion Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus Odeon of Pericles Temenos of Dionysus Eleuthereus Aglaureion

Site plan of the Acropolis at Athens
Follow the links below to each temple or other monument for further reading:

1. Parthenon
2. Old Temple of Athena
3. Erechtheum
4. Statue of Athena Promachos
5. Propylaea
6. Temple of Athena Nike
7. Eleusinion
8. Sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia or Brauroneion
9. Chalkotheke
10. Pandroseion
11. Arrephorion
12. Altar of Athena
13. Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus
14. Sanctuary of Pandion
15. Odeon of Herodes Atticus
16. Stoa of Eumenes
17. Sanctuary of Asclepius or Asclepieion
18. Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus
19. Odeon of Pericles
20. Temenos of Dionysus Eleuthereus
21. Aglaureion

Temples, statues, and theatres

The entrance to the Acropolis was a monumental gateway called the Propylaea. To the south of the entrance is the tiny Temple of Athena Nike. A bronze statue of Athena, sculpted by Phidias, originally stood at its centre. At the centre of the Acropolis is the Parthenon or Temple of Athena Parthenos (Athena the Virgin). East of the entrance and north of the Parthenon is the temple known as the Erechtheum.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus also called Herodeion is a stone Roman theater located on the Acropolis of Athens Greece
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus also called Herodeion is a stone Roman theater located on the Acropolis of Athens

South of the platform that forms the top of the Acropolis there are also the remains of an outdoor theatre called Theatre of Dionysus. A few hundred metres away, there is the now partially reconstructed Theatre of Herodes Atticus.

Athens New Acropolis Museum

All the valuable ancient artifacts are situated in the Acropolis Museum, which resides on the southern slope of the same rock, 280 m from the Parthenon.

Acropolis Museum Athens Greece
Acropolis Museum in Athens

The Athens New Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock and on its feet, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. It also lies on the archaeological site of Makrygianni and the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens. The museum was founded in 2003, while the Organisation of the Museum was established in 2008. It opened to the public on June 21, 2009. Nearly 4,000 objects are exhibited over an area of 14,000 m2.

Travel to Athens, Greece - Odeon of Herodes at the foot of Acropolis
The amphitheatre Odeon of Herodes as seen from Acropolis

Tickets and opening hours

Try to avoid the tourism rush hours and go early in the morning or late afternoon. During summer, the opening hours are 8:00 – 20:00 – Last entrance to the site at 19:40. Tickets cost €20 and are valid for the archaeological site of the Acropolis and its slopes. You need to buy a separate ticket for the Acropolis Museum.
Acropolis is closed to the public at: January 1st , March 25th , May 1st , Easter Sunday, December 25th , December 26th

Beware the guidelines for a visit

Today drastic precautions are being taken to save the temples and the statues from the decay following the air pollution in Athens. Therefore, the interiors of the temples are prohibited access, the statues are kept inside the museum and replicas are placed outside. Aeroplanes are not allowed to fly in the aerial space above Acropolis, and guards are watching all visitors closely. It is strictly forbidden to pick up even the smallest stone from the Sacred Rock.

Acropolis of Athens with the Parthenon temple on top of the hill, Athens Greece

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External links