The Ancient Agora of Athens (in Greek, Αρχαία Αγορά της Αθήνας or Archaía Agorá tis Athínas) is one of the most important sites in the history of Western civilization. This is because it was the administrative, political, economic, religious, cultural, and social center of the city of Athens and Ancient Greece!
Located northwest of the iconic Acropolis of Athens, the Ancient Agora of Athens comprised several dozen structures and public buildings. Unfortunately, almost all the monuments are in ruins these days. But that doesn’t take away from the Ancient Agora of Athens the prestige and relevance of the past!
So, do you want to know more about the Ancient Agora Of Athens: Best Tips For Visiting In 2024? Keep reading!
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- Brief History of the Ancient Agora of Athens
- How to Get to the Ancient Agora of Athens
- What to See at the Ancient Agora of Athens
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Brief History of the Ancient Agora of Athens
According to historians and archaeologists, the site where the Ancient Agora of Athens is situated was already inhabited in prehistoric times, more precisely, in the Late Neolithic (that is, in 3000 BC). At that time, the site was used not only as a residential area but also as a cemetery.
At the beginning of the 6th century BC and already during Classical Antiquity, the space became public and began to welcome the first buildings and structures. And so, the precincts of the Ancient Agora of Athens continued to be expanded and configured in the centuries that followed, despite constant attacks from enemy peoples.
With the invasion of the Byzantine Empire at the end of the 6th century AD, the Ancient Agora of Athens lost its importance and ended up being progressively abandoned. Interestingly, the place returned to its initial function as a residential area and remained so until the first half of the 19th century!
The first excavation campaign in the area of the Ancient Agora of Athens took place between 1859 and 1912. For this, nearly 400 modern houses had to be demolished. The statues, weapons, jewelry, coins, and ceramics found are on display at the Museum of the Ancient Agora of Athens.
How to Get to the Ancient Agora of Athens
The Ancient Agora of Athens is located in a huge open-air space, about 650 meters from the Propylaea – the monumental gate and official entrance to the Acropolis of Athens. And here are other monuments and points of interest that you can visit nearby:
- Monastiraki Square (300 meters)
- Hadrian’s Library (300 meters)
- Roman Agora (350 meters)
- Philopappos Hill (400 meters)
- Ancient Cemetery of Kerameikos (600 meters)
Opening Hours & Ticket Prices
The Ancient Agora of Athens is open every day, from 8 am to 3 pm (in winter) or from 8 am to 8 pm (in summer), with the last entry being at 2:40 pm or 7:40 pm, respectively. The only closing days are January 1st, March 25th (Greek Independence Day), Easter Sunday, May 1st, December 25th, and 26th.
As for tickets, these cost €10 (normal fare) or €5 (reduced fare). There’s also a combined ticket for €30, which is valid for 5 days and includes entry to seven different sites:
- Acropolis of Athens
- Ancient Agora of Athens
- Roman Agora
- Library of Hadrian
- Archaeological Site of Kerameikos
- Archaeological Site of the Lyceum of Aristotle
- Temple of Olympian Zeus
You can buy tickets to museums, monuments, and archaeological sites in Greece at the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sport’s online ticket office. But there are also dates when access is free, such as on the following days:
- March 6th (Melina Mercouri Day)
- April 18th (International Day of Monuments)
- May 18th (International Museum Day)
- Last weekend of September (European Heritage Days)
- October 28th (Ohi Day or No Day)
- First Sunday of the month, between November and March
What to See at the Ancient Agora of Athens
Stoa of Attalos
The Stoa of Attalos (in Greek, Στοά του Αττάλου or Stoá tou Attálou) was erected at the request of King Attalos II of Pergamon, and for that reason, it was named after him. The works took place between 159 and 138 BC and resulted in an imposing structure with a rectangular plan, 120 meters long and 20 meters wide.
When it was completed, the Stoa of Attalos was one of the largest buildings in Athens. Like other monuments of the time, it’s made of Pentelic marble and limestone. And the columns that make up its two floors are Doric (external colonnade on the ground floor) and Ionic (inner colonnade on the ground floor and external colonnade on the first floor).
Installed on the east side of the Ancient Agora of Athens, the Stoa of Attalos was rebuilt between 1953 and 1956 to accommodate the Museum of the Ancient Agora of Athens. This archeology gallery opened in 1957 and is the most visited attraction of the archaeological site, along with the Temple of Hephaestus.
Church of the Holy Apostles
The Church of the Holy Apostles (in Greek, Ναός Αγίων Αποστόλων or Naós Agion Apostolon) is the only monument in the Ancient Agora of Athens – apart from the Temple of Hephaestus – that has survived practically intact to the present day.
This orthodox temple from the 10th century AD is a few meters from the Stoa of Attalos and constitutes the first great example of religious architecture of the middle Byzantine period, in the city of Athens.
As far as is known, the Church of the Holy Apostles went through four distinct construction phases. For example, the original plan consisted of a cross, with apses arranged on all four sides and a narthex added to the west side. And, in the center, four columns supported the dome.
Odeion of Agrippa
The Odeon of Agrippa (in Greek, Ωδείο του Αγρίππα or Odeío tou Agríppa) was a large and luxurious building, intended for the presentation of musical shows. Designed in the center of the Ancient Agora of Athens around the year 15 BC, it was named after its patron, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa (the son-in-law of Emperor Augustus).
With a rectangular plan and two floors, the Odeon of Agrippa was composed of an oblong stage, a semicircular orchestra, and a cavea with a capacity for up to a thousand spectators. And the monument used to have a sloping roof without interior support, but it collapsed in 150 AD!
Monument of the Eponymous Heroes
The Monument of the Eponymous Heroes (in Greek, Μνημείο των Επωνύμων Ηρώων or Mnimeío ton Eponýmon Iróon) is a marble pedestal approximately 16 meters long. Dated to 330 BC, in it were placed the bronze statues of the mythical heroes of each of the ten tribes of Athens:
- Acamas (in Greek, Ἀκάμας ou Akámas)
- Aegeus (in Greek, Αιγέας ou Aigéas)
- Ajax (in Greek, Αίας ou Aías)
- Antiochus (in Greek, Ἀντίοχος ou Antíochos)
- Cecrops (in Greek, Κέκροπας ou Kékropas)
- Erechtheus (in Greek, Ερεχθεύς ou Erechthéfs)
- Hippothoon (in Greek, Ιπποθόωντας ou Ippothóontas)
- Leos (in Greek, Λεώς ou Leós)
- Oeneus (in Greek, Οινέας ou Oinéas)
- Pandion (in Greek, Πανδίων ou Pandíon)
In addition to a podium, the Monument of Eponymous Heroes was a kind of “information center” for the Ancient Agora of Athens. This is because, on the sides, there were wooden boards with all sorts of announcements: upcoming lawsuits, legal decrees to be voted on, civic honorary distinctions, lists of citizens enlisted in the army, etc.
Temple of Hephaestus
Did you know that the Temple of Hephaestus (in Greek, Ναός του Ηφαίστου or Naós tou Ifaístou) is the best preserved ancient Greek temple in the world? Still, it’s far less famous than the Parthenon, the iconic temple dedicated to the goddess Athena on the Acropolis of Athens!
The Temple of Hephaestus was built between 460 and 415 BC and converted into the Church of Saint George in the 7th century AD. Its name is a tribute to Hephaestus, the god of fire, metals, and blacksmiths in Greek mythology – and whose equivalent was Vulcan in Roman mythology.
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