Hephaestus temple

Location: Thissio   

The Temple of Hephaestus in Athens, Attica: The Temple of Hephaestus is the best preserved ancient temple in Greece. It was dedicated to Hephaestus, the ancient god of fire and Athena, goddess of pottery and crafts. According to the archeologists, the temple was built around 450 B.C. at the western edge of the city, on top of Agoreos Koronos hill, and it is a classical example of Dorian architecture. The temple was designed by Iktinus, one of the talented architects who also worked on Parthenon, However, many other craftsmen worked at this fantastic temple.

The temple has 6 columns on the short east and west sides and 13 on the north and south sides. Its friezes and other decorations have been greatly damaged by earthquakes and invasions along the centuries. The temple is located in Thissio, within a short distance from the Acropolis and Monastiraki, just above the Ancient Agora and the Stoa of Attalos. It was built from Pentelic marble, while its sculptures are made of Parian marble. It has a pronaos, a cella and an opisthodomos. The temple is peripheral, with columns that surround the central enclosed cella. Both of them are decorated with friezes.

The east and west sides of the temple are shorter whereas the north and the south sides are longer. On the eastern front of the temple, there are sculptures depicting the labors of Hercules and the battle of Thesseus with the Pallentides, the fifty children of Pallas. On the west side the sculptures depict the fall of Troy.

From the 7th century A.D. till 1834, this temple was an Orthodox church dedicated to Saint George Akamatus. The last Holy Mass took place in February 1833, when King Otto arrived in Greece. In the 19th century, the temple was used as a burial place for the non-Orthodox Europeans and philhellenes. Actually, the archeological excavations revealed many graves. In 1834, King Otto ordered the building to be used as a museum where it actually remained as such until 1934. Today, this temple is one of the greatest ancient monuments in Greece. Reconstruction and excavation works are still carried out.

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