The Monument of Lysicrates in Athens: In the neighborhood of Plaka, a few steps from the Acropolis Museum, there is the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates.
This monument was erected by the choregos Lysicrates to commemorate the award of the first prize in 335/334 BC to one of the performances that he had sponsored. The word choregos actually means sponsor in Greek.
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Choregos was a very important title for ancient Athenians. Choregi actually sponsored the expenses and preparations of dramatic and musical performances during the festivals of Athens. When costs were not covered by the state, choregi were appointed to pay the costs of costumes, masks, rehearsal costs, scene painting, sound effects and generally all the costs associated with a performance.
Choregi were wealthy Athenians and it was considered an honor to take up this duty. In fact, the prizes for drama at the festival competitions of Athens were awarded jointly to the playwright and the choregos. To celebrate their victory, choregi used to build monuments along the path leading to the Ancient Theatre of Dionysus, located at the foot of the Acropolis, where drama festivals would take place.
This is the reason that the Monument of Lysicrates was built. This monument consists of a circular statue and a high, squared podium. This is the first ancient monument of the Corinthian order on the exterior and is made out of marble from Mount Pentelikon. Its frieze depicts scenes from the life of the god Dionysus, in honor of whom the dramatic games were held. The bronze tripod, the prize given to choregi for sponsoring the winning play in the dramatic games, was placed at its top. Nowadays, it is surrounded by a lovely garden in the center of a small square.
In 1669, during Ottoman rule, a Capuchin monk bought the monument and added it to the library of the monastery he lived in. The fact that the monument was a property of the Capuchins at the time prevented its taking by Lord Elgin, the diplomat who removed parts of the frieze of Parthenon, a Caryatid from Erechtheion, and other parts of the temples on the Acropolis.
During the Greek War of Independence, the monastery was burnt down and the monument was damaged. The French government later repaired it, as it was considered the country's property. However, the French gave up the ownership after taking the land of the French Institute in exchange.
Structures that mimic this choragic monument include the Dugald Stewart Monument on Calton Hill above Edinburgh UK and another structure in the Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney in Australia.
How to get there
There are many ways to reach the Monument of Lysicrates from any location in Athens.
Private transfers: We recommend using an online pre-booked transfer service, which provides transfer by taxi, minibus, or private VIP car and arranging a pickup directly from the port, airport, or your hotel. Alternatively, there’s the option of arranging a pickup by a local driver directly at the following numbers: (0030) 18288, (0030) 18222, (0030) 18180. You can also book your taxi online.
On foot: As the Monument of Lysicrates is located in a central area of Athens, it can be easily reached on foot from Syntagma Square in approximately 10 minutes.
By metro: The closest metro station is Akropolis (Red Line). Note that the Monument of Lysicrates is located within a 5-minute walking distance from the metro. Get a map of the metro here.
By bus/trolleybus: The closest bus stop is "Agalma Vironod". Check the routes and the official timetables on OASA Telematics.