The Temple of Hephaestus: one of the oldest and best preserved in Greece

The Temple of Hephaestus or Hefesteion is one of the great jewels of the heritage of Athens. In fact, it is one of the buildings of classical antiquity that has best withstood the passage of time and today it can be seen almost completely rebuilt. It is not the most famous temple in the capital of Greece, but it is impressive and you cannot miss it.

the hills of athens

There are several European cities that grew from the presence of various hills on their urban land. Examples range from Rome to Lisbon, and also the capital of Athens itself is a city with several hills. The most famous of them is the one on which the famous Acropolis rises.

However, there are other Athenian hills worth mentioning. And one of them is the Kolonos Agoraios, where the Temple of Hephaestus is preserved. One of the most outstanding constructions of the great archaeological site that is the Ancient Agora, and the area that had to be the great social epicenter of brilliant Classical Athens. While the sacred area was located on the Acropolis hill with the Parthenon.

Who was Hephaestus?

In ancient times, historians gave the Temple of Hephaestus another invocation. It was thought to be a place of homage to Theseus, a mythical king of Athens, but also closely linked to the island of Crete and its legend of the minotaur. The reason must be found in the reliefs that are engraved in the highest part of the construction, in the metopes of the upper frieze.

The legendary labors of Hercules are represented there, and Theseus also appears. Nevertheless, Later studies have reached the conclusion that it is fair to speak of a Temple of Hephaestus; that is, dedicated to honoring the god of fire. He was also the brother of Athena herself, a goddess with whom the city is identified even in his name.

The temple of Hephaestus and the Doric order

The temple of Hephaestus is almost 2,500 years old. It is known that its construction began around the year 450 BC. And at that time this type of construction was carried out following the rules of the Doric order.

In this case it is evident in the layout of its columns, of which in total there would be 36 completely surrounding the internal sacred enclosure. And not only is the Doric order manifested in its columns, but also in the upper part of the entablature where the metopes would be alternating with triglyphs.

A decorative scheme that is repeated in all contemporary temples, including the Parthenon or other temples scattered throughout Greece and the Mediterranean, as is the case of those that are preserved on the Italian island of Sicily, where the Greek navigators arrived to settle.

Although it was believed to be a construction in honor of Theseus, it has become clear that this temple pays homage to Hephaestus, the god of fire.

An essential visit

Currently, archaeological tours of Athens are numerous, and many of them are accessible with joint tickets. One of those places that you cannot miss is the Ancient Agora, where the Temple of Hephaestus is located, along with other wonders such as the Porch of Attalus.

You have to imagine this area of ​​the city with all the hustle and bustle of the Hellenic capital in ancient times. The place where the great Pericles gave his political speeches or where Plato went to ramble and raise the first proposals of philosophy.

By the way, philosophy is a Greek word that comes to mean friend (philo) of wisdom (sofia). Another of the many legacies that Greek civilization has left us, capable of generating ideas that survive such as democracy or monuments that resist the passage of millennia, such as the Temple of Hephaestus.

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