The Early History of the Parthenon, Acropolis and Agora of Ancient Athens


Kelly Macquire
published on 24 July 2022

The early history of the Parthenon, the Acropolis and the Agora of Ancient Athens is a rich one, with numerous periods of building and construction. The term Agora in Greek means an ‘open place of assembly’ which was exactly its purpose in the ancient world. It was an open space where free-born citizens could gather and hear announcements, discuss politics, or assemble men for military campaigns. Although the Athenian Agora is the best known Agora from the ancient world, the term was used in other Greek states for their public spaces where merchants had shops, events were discussed, and craftspeople sold their goods. The Athenian agora was located below the Acropolis near the Temple of Hephaestus, and due to the political discussions that took place there, the agora of Athens is often referenced as the birthplace of democracy.

Generally speaking, any citadel or complex built on a high hill is an Acropolis, but the most famous one is the Acropolis of Athens. You would enter the Acropolis complex through a monumental Doric gate known as the Propylais, and on the right was a small Temple to Athena Nike. This was the smallest of the Acropolis temples but was one of the most impressive with its ornately carved reliefs of Athena and Nike, goddess of victory.

It was during the rebuilding of Athens under Pericles that the Parthenon was conceived of, and it was under the direction of the sculptor Phidias in the second half of the fifth century that the Propylaea, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion, and the Parthenon were built. The main doors of the temple were made out of gold, bronze, and ivory and when you entered, you were met with a twelve-metre high, colossal statue of Athena, the Athena Parthenos, made of gold and ivory around a wooden centre.



0:00​ Introduction
1:17 The Ancient Athenian Agora
5:02 The Ancient Athenian Acropolis
8:50 The Parthenon of Athens
12:14 Outro

The Parthenon Scultpures
Athena Parthenos by Phidias
Pericles & the Restoration of the Athenian Agora–the-restoration-of-the-athenian-agora/

Athena the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, War and the Crafts
Ancient Democracy: What is Democracy and Where Did it Start?
Ancient Greek Tragedy: History, Playwrights and Performances
History of the Iliad and the Trojan War

You can find all attribution and credits for images, animations, graphics and music here -

The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:

Leo von Klenze / Neue Pinakothek, Munich / Users: Odysses and Alonso de Mendoza
Public Domain US faithful reproductions of two-dimensional public domain works of art are public domain -
Dorieo.. Original uploader was Ejectgoose at en.wikipedia
Public Domain -

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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2022, July 24). The Early History of the Parthenon, Acropolis and Agora of Ancient Athens. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Early History of the Parthenon, Acropolis and Agora of Ancient Athens." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified July 24, 2022.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Early History of the Parthenon, Acropolis and Agora of Ancient Athens." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 24 Jul 2022. Web. 17 Jun 2024.