The path to the top of the hill begins at the end of a small road to the east called Theorias, between the Acropolis and the Athens University Museum.
Areopagus Hill, often known simply as “The Areopagus”, is a dramatic rocky outcrop offering spectacular views over the rest of Athens. From here you can admire the bulk of the Acropolis, situated slightly to the south-east, or gaze across in the opposite direction at the ancient agora below you.
Putting God on Trial
No one is exactly sure how the hill got its name, but there are two rather bloody competing theories. The first is that it derives from Ares, the Greek god of war. According to ancient mythology, Ares killed the son of the sea god Poseidon because he was making unwanted advances on Ares’ daughter. Accused of murder, Ares stood trial on Areopagus Hill, but was ultimately acquitted when it was judged that the act was committed in defence. The second theory is that the “Areo” part of the name comes from the Erinyes, otherwise known as the Furies, hellish goddesses of vengeance to whom a shrine was constructed at the foot of the rock.
Spreading the Word
From the 5th century BC, it was used as a court for trying accused murderers, but it is perhaps most famous as the spot where St. Paul delivered his famous “Sermon to an Unknown God” to an assembled Roman crowd in 52 AD. He urged them to dispense with their polytheism, preaching that “God does not live in temples built by hands”. This was enough to convince Dionysus, supposedly the first Athenian Christian, who later went on to become the patron saint of the city.
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