Tower of the Winds

Location: Plaka   

The Tower of the Winds in Athens, Greece: The Tower of the Winds is found in the Roman Agora of Athens, between the quarters of Plaka and Monastiraki. This is among the most famous sights of Athens. A 12-metre-tall structure with a diameter of 8 metres, this tower has octagonal shape. It was made of fine Pentelic marble probably around 50 B.C. by the Greek astronomer Andronicus of Cyrrhus.

This tower has many uses in the ancient times. It was originally constructed as a time piece, that is to estimate time, based on the position of the sun. It was also used for weather indicating and forecasting. The tower features a combination of sundials, a water clock and a wind vane. In fact, its frieze depicts the eight wind deities according to their direction: Boreas (N), Kaikias (NE), Eurus (E), Apeliotes (SE), Notus (S), Livas (SW), Zephyrus (W) and Skiron (NW).

In the interior, there was a water clock, like a clepsydra, working with water coming down from the Rock of Acropolis. In the early Christian times, this structure was used as the bell tower of a church. During the Ottoman occupation, it was used as a tekke, that is a place of spiritual retreat and character formation.

The architectural design of the Tower of the Winds has inspired many other structures in the world. In fact, it has influenced the design of the 18th century Radcliffe Observatory in Oxford UK, the 15th century Torre del Marzocco in Livorno Italy, the Temple of the Winds in Mount Stewart in Northern Ireland and also a similar tower in Sevastopol Ukraine built in 1849.

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