Facts About the Parthenon in Athens

Here are some facts about the Parthenon.

  • The Parthenon is a ruined temple on the Acropolis hill in Athens, Greece. It has become a symbol of the country and is one of the most well-known monuments in the world.

  • It was built between 447 BC and 438 BC, during the height of Classical Greece. It was designed to be a temple to the goddess Athena, the patron of the city.
  • The temple was built to align with the Hyades, a cluster of stars. In Greek mythology, the Hyades were the five daughters of the strong Greek god Atlas.
  • The biggest expense in building the Parthenon was transporting the 13,000 large stones 16 km from Mt. Pentelicus. The mountain is well known for its smooth and flawless marble stone quarried there.

Parthenon

  • The Parthenon contained statues and carvings, many dedicated to Athena. The frieze, or carved wall inside the building shows Greek myths and legends, as well as battles.
  • Some sculptures were removed in 1806 by the Earl of Elgin. Known as the Elgin Marbles, these are in the British Museum, despite ongoing efforts by Greece to get them back.
  • The base of the Parthenon measures 30 by 70 metres. The 46 columns around the perimeter of the temple were designed in the Ionic style and are 10.4 metres high.
  • Although the Parthenon was designed as a Greek temple, it was used as a Christian church in the 6th century. It has also been used as a treasury and as a mosque.
  • In 1656, an explosion destroyed several walls and columns. In 1687 more damage occurred when Ottoman Turks defended themselves in the Parthenon against the attacking Venetians.
  • There is a full scale replica of the Parthenon in Nashville in the United States. The National Monument of Scotland and a memorial in Bavaria, Germany are also closely modeled on the temple.

What next? Learn more about the Ancient Greeks by visiting our resources page.

What are the Elgin Marbles? Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the Elgin Marbles.

  • The Elgin Marbles are a collection of classical Greek sculptures. The marble pieces were originally part of the Parthenon, the temple built on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

  • They have been on display in the British Museum in London since the early 19th century. Since then, Greece has campaigned to have the works of art returned to Greece.
  • A Scottish diplomat, Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, removed the pieces from Greece during the early 1800s. He claimed he had been given permission to remove items he excavated.
  • At the time, Athens was a part of the Ottoman Empire, which gave its permission for the items to be taken away. Lord Elgin was very interested in ancient Greek art.
  • Parliament decided Elgin had acted legally and he sold the marbles to the British Museum. The sculptures meant that public were more interested in ancient art and they also influenced art of the period.
  • The Elgin Marbles collection includes about 82 metres of the original frieze, or decorative stone work from the Parthenon, and 17 stone figures. It also includes items from other nearby temples.
  • The collection also includes 15 of the original 92 rectangular carved panels. These show battles between a legendary Greek tribe, the Lapiths, and centaurs, who were half men, half horse.
  • Some of the decorative items from the Parthenon remained in Greece and can be seen at the Acropolis Museum. Others can be seen in museums such as the Louvre and the Vatican Museum.
  • In December 2014, one of the Elgin Marbles left the UK for the first time and was loaned to a Russian museum. The British Prime Minister promised it would be returned.
  • About 40 percent of British people think the Elgin Marbles should be returned to Greece. Organisations and celebrities have campaigned to have them returned, including UNESCO and George Clooney.

Greece: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Greece.

  • Greece is located in southeast Europe, at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa. It covers an area of 132,000 square km and is bordered by Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey.

  • It is considered to be the birthplace of western civilization. Greek states in 800 and 700 BC developed advanced ideas in the arts, science, mathematics and literature.
  • Greece is a mountainous country and has the 11th longest coastline of any country, because of its many islands. There are over 2,000 Greek islands, although only about 200 are inhabited.
  • Mount Olympus is the country’s highest point at almost 3,000 metres and was the home of the Greek gods. During World War II, the Greek resistance used the mountain as a hideout.
  • Olympic Games were first held in Greece around 900 BC, in honour of the god Zeus. Winners were given olive leaf wreaths and a truce was declared so that enemy tribes could compete.
  • About 3.6 million people, 40 percent of the population, live in the capital Athens. It has been inhabited for over 7,000 years, making it one of the oldest cities.
  • The Parthenon in Athens was built as a temple in 447 BC. Sculptures from the building, known as the Elgin Marbles, are in the British Museum in London, having been taken from Greece in 1812.

Flag of Greece

  • Thessaloniki has been voted one of the world’s best party cities. Santorini, which is a volcanic island, has been voted as one of the world’s best islands.
  • Many doors, windowsills, domes and other building features in Greece are painted turquoise blue. An ancient belief is that the colour keeps evil out of the building.
  • The first Greek tragedy was performed in 534 BC and written by Thespis, from where the word thespian comes.
  • The Odyssey, written by Homer in 800 BC, is one of the world’s most famous poems.

Check out our resources on Ancient Greece.

Aristotle: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Aristotle.

  • Aristotle was a scientist and philosopher who was born in Greece in 384 BC. Today he is considered one of the best known and most important of all philosophers.
  • He was born into a noble and wealthy family. His father was the personal doctor to King Amyntas who helped to bring peace to the Macedonian area.

  • Aristotle spent much of his life in Athens, then the world’s largest city.
  • He studied biology, politics, physics, music, languages, poetry and ethics at the school of another well-known philosopher, Plato.
  • He invented a new science called causality, which explained why events happen. He also devised a new way of looking at situations and events by looking for clues as to what happened.

Aristotle

  • Aristotle designed a primitive camera, in which the sun shone into a dark box, creating an image. He also made studies of the stars and planets, and wrote books about physics and geology.
  • Aristotle classified animals into different types, and studied the marine life in the nearby ocean. He believed that living things were created on a scale, ranging from plants to humans.
  • He made notes to help his students, and also wrote many books and papers. However, only about 30 percent of what he wrote survives today, and many of his works were also edited over the years.
  • Aristotle was the first known person to say that the continent of Antarctica existed. The Aristotle Mountains, along the north coast of Antarctica are named for him.
  • Towards the end of his life he tutored Alexander the Great, as well as two other future kings. He founded his own school, called the Lyceum.
  • He died in 322 BC, aged 62 and has been called the most intelligent man who ever lived. His method of questioning things and many of his ideas have influenced philosophers for many centuries.

What next? Learn more about Ancient Greece by visiting our resources page.

Ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses: Facts About Aphrodite, Goddess of Love

Here are some facts about the Ancient Greek Goddess Aphrodite:

  • Aphrodite was born when Uranus was defeated by Zeus and the New Gods. A drop of Uranus’s blood fell into the Ocean and caused it to foam. From the froth emerged Aphrodite.

  • Aphrodite was the goddess of love. She had no other jobs or duties except to look pretty and have others fall in love with her.
  • She wore a girdle with magic powers. The girdle made its wearer seem incredibly attractive to all who looked upon them.
  • Aphrodite was married to Zeus’s son, Hephaestos. He worked in the forges of the Greek Gods as a blacksmith, making jewellery and weapons.
  • Aphrodite wasn’t faithful to Hephaestos, and she had many lovers (both men and gods) including: Ares (the god of war), and a handsome human called Adonis.
  • Aphrodite had quite a few children. Her sons included, Eros and Aeneas, and she had a daughter called Harmonia.
  • Although Aphrodite was the goddess of love, she could be quite angry and vicious at times. For example, when a man called Glaucus insulted Aphrodite, she decided to punish him. She fed his horses magic water so that when he used them in a chariot race they went mad and crushed him to death. They then ate him!
  • Aphrodite could also be kind. For example, when the sculptor Pygmalion, one of her loyal followers, could not find a wife, Aphrodite gave life to one of his sculptures. Pygmalion called the living statue Galatea, and they got married.
  • Aphrodite was closely associated with Cyprus, an island near to where she was ‘born’.
  • The Roman name for Aphrodite was Venus.

Learn more about some of the other Greek gods and goddesses by clicking the link.