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Parthenon

Crowning the Acropolis hill, the sublime marble columns of the Parthenon form the most recognisable monument in Athens.

TravelCurious Tip

Be sure to allow enough time to admire the panorama of the city – the views are breathtaking.

Sitting proudly atop the Acropolis in Athens, the Parthenon is arguably the most famous and historically significant building in the Western world. Though the years have somewhat taken their toll, the great marble columns still retain a great deal of their former glory, and the gleam they give off from high above the Greek capital can be truly awe-inspiring.


The Pride of the Acropolis

The Parthenon was built during the Golden Age of Athens, approximately 2,500 years ago. The Persians had been defeated, democracy had been established, and the city was the intellectual and cultural centre of the world. Under the leadership of statesman Pericles, a group of master craftsmen raised a series of buildings on the Acropolis that were to be the envy of all who laid eyes upon them. Foremost among them was the Parthenon. It was built to house the astonishing new statue of Athena Parthenos, now sadly lost, and also to act as the city’s treasury.


The Big Bang

Unfortunately, history has not been kind to this grand old edifice. Earthquakes, fires and light-fingered foreign archaeologists have all played their part, but the greatest disaster occurred in 1687 during the war between Venice and the Ottoman Turks, who were occupying the city. The Turks were using the Parthenon to store gunpowder at the time, and when it was struck by a Venetian cannonball, the resulting explosion destroyed most of the sculptures, several internal walls, and the entirety of the roof, as well as damaging several buildings nearby.


Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Athens
Acropolis
An ancient citadel high above the city, this group of stunning ruins are among the most important cultural icons of Western civilisation.
Erechtheion
This temple across from the Parthenon is famous for its Caryatids, the six larger-than-life female columns which support its roof.
Propylaea
This stunning monumental gateway leads onto the plateau of the Acropolis.
Temple of Athena Nike
Next to the Propylaea lies the Acropolis' earliest Ionic temple, built for the goddess of victory and restored after its destruction in 1686.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Built on the Acropolis' southwest slope in memory of the beloved wife of magnate Atticus, this 2nd century theatre is still used today as a venue for live performances.
Theatre of Dionysus
One of the earliest preserved theatres in Athens, this space was used during festivals to honour the wine god Dionysus.

Related Tours

The Greek Essentials - Full Day Highlights of Athens
If you only have a short amount of time in Athens and want to see as much as possible in one day, then this highlight tour is the one for you. On your private full day tour, you will: 

  • Discover Athen's cultural sites, including the remains of the Temple of Zeus and the iconic Acropolis
  • Learn about myths and legends of Ancient Greece 
  • Wander through the New Acropolis Museum, discovering the beautiful art and architecture 
  • Walk along the Agora, the heart of classical Athens, and learn about the origins of democracy 
  • Enjoy a classical Greek lunch, at a place recommended by your guide (price not included in tour)
  • Explore the oldest district in the city, Plaka 
  • Immerse yourself in local life at the Monastiraki flea market
  • Visit the marbled Panathenaic Stadium, constructed for the first modern Olympic Games 
Classical Ruins

With your expert guide you will discover the city’s most important cultural sites, including the colossal remains of the Temple of Zeus and the Acropolis, a UNESCO world heritage site. On the plateau of the Acropolis you will find the awe-inspiring heights of the Parthenon pillars, gaze on the beautiful female forms of the Cartyid columns, discover on some of the earliest theatres known to man and enjoy panoramic views over the city. Your guide will explain the central role these monuments, and more, played in classical society and immerse you in the myths and legends of Ancient Greece.

Archaeological Wonders

After wandering the Parthenon you will visit in the spectacular New Acropolis Museum. Here you will learn firsthand the artistic wonders that once adorned the monuments of the Acropolis. You will also wander through the Agora, the heart of classical Athens. Once a bustling marketplace, in these now peaceful ruins you’ll walk in Socrates’ footsteps amongst classic temples and Byzantine churches, learning how Athens became the birthplace of democracy.

Thriving Capital 

Following a lunch of local cuisine, you will explore bustling Plaka, the oldest district in the city. Sometimes called “the neighbourhood of the gods”, Plaka is known for its winding alleyways and scenic shopping. Immerse yourself in local life at the Monastiraki flea market, before venturing to the grand Syntagma square, home to the Greek Parliament. Watch the presidential guards, in their famous skirted costumes, and be led by your guide through the natural beauty of the National Gardens. 

Finally, you will also visit the stunningly marbled Panathenaic Stadium. Constructed for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, this immense structure is a strong reminder of the continual legacy of ancient Athens in the modern day. 
Private Ancient Athens in Half a Day
Incredible human endeavour built The Acropolis 2,500 years ago as thousands of tons of marble, quarried at Mount Pentelicus 10 miles northeast of the city, were lugged up steep steps to the Attica plateau by vast legions of manual labour. Hand hewn using mallets, foundations were built using great blocks of limestone dating back to the Late Cretaceous period. On your private half day tour of Ancient Athens, you will: 

  • Enjoy a private, immersive cultural experience that brings archaeology to life.
  • Understand the human endeavour required to complete the The Acropolis 2,500 years ago.
  • Be intellectually stimulated - your tour is full of fascinating narrative.
  • Climb up to the Acropolis complex to marvel at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Wander through the Acropolis Museum, discovering the beautiful art and architecture. 
  • Discover Athen's theatrical sites, including the Theatre of Dionysus and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.
  • At the Agora, gain insight into the celebrated birthplace of democracy.

Three temples form the Acropolis complex, the Parthenon, the Erechtheum and the temple dedicated to Athena Parthenos (Athena the Virgin). Today the Acropolis (meaning “hill city'') is Athens’ crowning glory: a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s most important cultural monuments as the celebrated birthplace of democracy.

On this fascinating Private Tour of the Acropolis,  learn the sophisticated construction methods to build the citadel in the 5th century BCE. Study the most complete surviving ancient Greek monumental complex - having weathered earthquakes and battles with Amazons, Persians, Crusaders and Stormtroopers  - and explore the many reasons why the Acropolis induces involuntary gasps of breath from the millions who arrive in Athens to admire it. Beautiful and colossal in scale, this mesmerizing hill-top spectacle is the most-photographed landmark in Greece. On your private, guided  Acropolis tour, consider the importance of the structure as a universal symbol of the classical spirit and civilization. You will also discover some of the earliest theatres known to man at the Theatre of Dionysus and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, as you climb the steep slope to marvel at the splendour of the Acropolis and enjoy truly striking panoramic views over Athens.
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