Arch of Hadrian in Athens

The Arch of Hadrian in Athens, Attica: The Arch of Hadrian is a triumphal arch which lies in a walking distance from Syntagma square, right between the rock of the Acropolis and the temple of Olympian Zeus. On the northwest, this monument faces the Monument of Lycicrates in Plaka. The construction of this temple started in 131 BC to celebrate the arrival of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and to thank him for his benefactions for the city. It is not known exactly who built this arch, whether it was the Athenians or citizens from another town. Symbolically the location of the arch was to mark the line between the ancient part of Athens and Hadrian's new city.

Made of fine Pentelic marble, this arch is 18 m high, 12,5 m wide and 2,3 m in depth. Its architecture resembles a lot to similar Roman arches and it is crowned by pilasters of Corinthian rhythm. The design is fully symmetrical. The monument has two layers, at the center of the lower layer there is an arched gate through which people could pass. Also, there were two columns, which do not exist anymore and connected by architraves between the two layers.

Two inscriptions are carved in the architrave, one on each side: the first on the side towards the Acropolis reads "This is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus", the second on the other side, facing the new city reads "This is the city of Hadrian and not of Theseus". It is obvious that the ancient city formed new districts due to the expansion that was made by the Emperor.

In the 18th century, the Arch of Hadrian served as one of the seven gates in the defensive wall that the Turks built around the city against the attack of the Albanians raiders. Given that the monument was never fully protected, it has survived time in extraordinary condition. Unfortunately, in recent decades, pollution has caused extensive discoloration of the original material and degradation of the inscriptions.

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