Discover the Tower of the Winds of Athens

Athens is one of the cities with the greatest historical heritage in the world. For this reason, among so many monuments, you may not know the Tower of the Winds. It is located in the Roman Agora and, in fact, it is one of the few buildings that are still standing in this area. At first glance, what will surprise you the most will be the friezes on the top of the tower.

This is a construction with a long history. It dates from the 1st century BC. C. and has had various uses. Today it is one more tourist spot in Athens. It has been especially so for a few years, since after a restoration it is possible to visit it.

We want to tell you the main characteristics of this old building. We will also find out why they call it the Tower of the Winds. Do not miss it.

How is the Tower of the Winds

Frieze on the tower – Carole Raddato /

The Tower of the Winds of the Roman Agora of Athens measures 12 meters high and has a diameter of 8 meters. Each of its eight walls exceeds three meters. The structure is built on a base that has three steps.

The highest part of each of the sides has a figure represented on its marble walls.. Each one of them is one of the eight winds that exist, depending on the direction they have: Boreas, Kaikias, Euro, Apeliotas, Noto, Lips, Cefiro and Skiron. It also has the name of each of them engraved.

The walls They had rods that, thanks to the sun, facilitated the time. These elements are no longer there, as they were removed in the last major restoration of the tower.

the water clock

The interior of the Tower of the Winds contained a water clock, known as clepsydra. This tool maintains a regulated flow of water that falls into another container and, in this way, measures the same time each time it is used.

It is a mechanism of Egyptian origin which was created to complement sundials at night. They would later use it in Rome and Athens, where they were used to time speaking turns.

History of the Tower of the Winds

Tower of the Winds – Paul Arps /

The Tower of the Winds is more than 21 centuries old, since, as we have already said, it was built in the I a. c. It was the astronomer Andrónico de Cirro who devised italthough the main objective of its construction is not known for sure.


With the beginning of Christianity, the tower became a church. In fact, a cemetery was created next to this structure and the mortal remains that rested there were previously veiled in the tower.

It is in the fifteenth century when it begins to receive the name of Tower of the Winds. It was Cyriacus of Ancona, the famous traveller, who spoke of the ‘temple of Aeolus’. A tower that has had very different uses. For example, it was used as a meeting place for Sufi and Muslim brotherhoods. Specifically, it was used by dervishes.

Later, in the nineteenth century, abandonment caused the Tower of the Winds remained partly buried. In the middle of this century it was excavated and later it was completely restored. Thanks to this, it has been possible to visit the interior for a few years.

The other Tower of the Winds

Gregorian Tower – Karelj / wikimedia Commons

There is another monument called the Tower of the Winds. This is also known as the Gregorian Tower, which is in Vatican City. In this case, its construction was completed in 1580 and the shape of its base is round. It stands above the Gallery of Maps that connects Belvedere with the Apostolic Palace.

The purpose of its construction was astronomical study. For this reason, there is something more than the name that unites these constructions, since, as we have said, the tower of Athens was built thanks to an astronomer.

since its inception devoted himself to the study of the Gregorian calendar, which was released two years after the inauguration of the tower. Currently, this building continues with the function of serving the Vatican, as it is its observatory.

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