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.
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