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Temple of Athena Nike: dedicated to the goddess of victory

The temple of Athena Nike is one of the wonders that we can find in the Acropolis of Athens. An example of classical beauty dating from the 5th century BC. C. and that takes its name from the most important deity of the city: Athena. Do you want to know more about this sanctuary?

The Acropolis, the place where we can find this small temple

The fifth century before Christ is known as the Periclean golden age. A ruler who led Athens for more than thirty years in which, among many great achievements, the reconstruction of the Acropolis stands out. The place where the temple to the Victorious Athena or Athena Nike is located.

The Acropolis is a citadel that is strategically located on the hill that dominates the city of Athens. In it, were all the temples of religious worship, so it was an assiduous visit for all citizens. In addition, the priests and initiates in the mystical schools stayed there.

Before the Battle of Plataea, the Greeks had sworn not to rebuild the temples razed to the ground by the Persians. It was Pericles who proposed to break this oath.

 

Hence, when Pericles came to power, he ordered its reconstruction and expansion. However, the fact that the architect Calícrates was in charge of the task of raising the temple of Athena Nike was something that slowed down its construction.

And it is that, It seems that Pericles had a certain rivalry with General Cimon, who in turn was a patron of Callicrates.. So, the temple of Athena Nike could not be finished until the death of this ruler. Hence, its construction date is the year 420 BC. c.

The temple of Athena Nike: an Ionian-style jewel

This small Ionic-style sanctuary is a gem of art history. It is a commemorative temple that celebrates the victory of the Greeks over the Persians in the Battle of Salamis.

A battle fought during the famous Persian Wars which led to two invasions of Athenian territory. The first by Persian soldiers at the order of Xerxes I in 480 BC. C. And the second, by Mardonio in 479 a. C. Hence, later the Acropolis had to be rebuilt.

It is a small building that has a height of eight meters and inside which was guarded the image of the winged goddess Athena. Its ground plan is rectangular and it has colonnaded porticoes on the front and rear façades. While on the sides we find continuous walls without openings to the outside.

The emblematic friezes containing mythological stories of Athena, Zeus and their divine courts were located on the pediment. And also glorious facts of the Greek victory over the Persians in the Persian Wars could be observed. Surely, in full color and not in pure white as they have come to this day.

However, most of these works were taken to foreign lands, and today we can find them in the British Museum in London and in the Louvre in Paris. While a small part can still be seen in the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

As for the sculpture of the protective goddess of Athens that was inside, it was also moved. And today we can see it in the Louvre. It is a beautiful sculpture of the winged goddess that has a preferential place in this French museum. A jewel that has even inspired sportswear brands.

The visit to this small temple

During 1936 and 1940 the temple underwent a reconstruction that served to solve a series of structural problems.

In order to visit this sanctuary, we have to access the Acropolis of Athens and cross the grandiose entrance constituted by the Propylaea. A space that divides the acropolis in two. Thus, towards the north, there was access to an art gallery where the Athenians could enjoy exhibitions of paintings on wooden planks.

While, to the south, they could go to the temple of Athena Nike. And this will be the path you should take if you want to enjoy this little piece of Greek history that surprises with its balance and beauty.

Visiting hours for the entire complex are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day. And to access you can opt for several tickets, having the possibility of going with your own guide, hiring one there or doing the visit on your own.

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