The Ancient Agora of Athens (aka Forum of Athens in older texts) is the best-known example of an ancient Greek agora, located to the northwest of the Acropolis and is bounded on the south by the hill of the Areopagus and on the west by the hill known as the Colonus Agoraeus.
Plan showing major buildings and structures
of the agora of Athens as it was in the 5th century BC
The agora in Athens had private housing, until it was reorganized by Peisistratus in the 6th century BC. Although he may have lived on the agora himself, he removed the other houses, closed wells, and made it the centre of Athenian government. He also built a drainage system, fountains and a temple to the Olympian gods. Cimon later improved the agora by constructing new buildings and planting trees. In the 5th century BC there were temples constructed to Hephaestus, Zeus and Apollo.
The Areopagus and the assembly of all citizens met elsewhere in Athens, but some public meetings, such as those to discuss ostracism, were held in the agora. Beginning in the period of the radical democracy (after 509 BC), the Boule, or city council, the Prytaneis, or presidents of the council, and the Archons, or magistrates, all met in the agora. The law courts were located there, and anyone who happened to be in the agora when a case was being heard would probably have been able to view the spectacle, though only those adult male citizens appointed by lot would have been able to serve as jurors.
The Stoa of Attalos (also spelled Attalus) is recognised as one of the most impressive stoae in the Athenian Agora. It was built by and named after King Attalos II of Pergamon who ruled between 159 BC and 138 BC.
Typical of the Hellenistic age, the stoa was more elaborate and larger than the earlier buildings of ancient Athens. The stoa’s dimensions are 115 by 20 metres wide (377 by 65 feet wide) and it is made of Pentelic marble and limestone. The building skillfully makes use of different architectural orders. The Doric order was used for the exterior colonnade on the ground floor with Ionic for the interior colonnade. This combination had been used in stoas since the Classical period and was by Hellenistic times quite common (further reading…)
The Stoa of Attalos houses the Museum of the Ancient Agora. Its exhibits are mostly connected with the Athenian democracy. The collection of the museum includes clay, bronze and glass objects, sculptures, coins and inscriptions from the 7th to the 5th century BC, as well as pottery of the Byzantine period and the Turkish occupation.