The Ancient Agora of Athens: The Ancient Agora, one of the most important sites of the Greek capital, is located on the northwest of the Acropolis, between the neighborhoods of Thission and Monastiraki. A large area with ancient ruins and much greenery, the Ancient Agora was the centre of Athens in the antiquity, the place where political gatherings and juries would take place.
At first, the Agora had private houses, until it was reorganized by tyrrant Pesistratus in the 6th century BC. Although he himself built his residence inside the agora, he made all the other houses move and closed the wells, making this region the centre of the Athenian government. He also created a drainage system, fountains and built a temple to the Olympia gods. The following century, the Athenians constructed public buildings, temples to Hephaestus, Zeus and Apollo and planted trees.
In classical Athens (5th century BC) and the summit of the Athenian democracy, the city council (or Vouli), the presidents of the council (or Prytaneis) and the magistrates (or Archons), all met in the Ancient Agora. The law courts were also held there. In 480 BC, the Persians destroyed most buildings in the Agora during the siege of Athens, but later on the Athenians rebuilt them. The agora became again a residential area in the Roman and the Byzantine times.
The first excavations in the site were carried between 1859 and 1912 by the Greek Archaeological Society and the German Archaeological Institute. In 1890, works for the construction of the Athens-Piraeus railway revealed a large part of the agora. In 1931, the American School of Classical Studies started excavations again till 1941. From 1945 till today, works are still carried on. To excavate the whole area, about 400 modern residences that covered an area of 12 hectares were pulled down.
Among the most important monuments of the Ancient Agora are the temple of Hephaestus which is the best preserved ancient temple in Greece, and the Stoa of Attalus, that was recently renovated. The Stoa was actually a trade market constructed by the king of Pergamus, Attalus, between 159-138 B.C. Today it works as a museum and houses many interesting exhibits found during excavations in the Ancient Agora.