This is probably (most definitely) the #1 reason people flock to Greece. And not surprisingly it is part of the AP Art History curriculum. I have pushed off tackling this piece from the Art History canon because it is just so complex and all-encompassing. But if you don’t do something during quarantine, you’ll never do it – so here I go! This blog post will highlight the aspects that make it a UNESCO World Heritage Site and then I will also cover specific art historical information in later (& multiple!) blog posts.
One of the most striking things about the Acropolis is that a) it is one of the most complete ancient Greek monumental complexes still standing and b) how it rises majestically above the modern-day city of Athens. You literally can’t miss it no matter where you are in the city. The way up is very rocky and steep with exception of the western side and the top is nearly completely flat – a perfect fortification site! And that is what it was first used for around the 13th century BCE. The acropolis, which actually generally means any complex built on a hilltop in Greek, transformed into a religious site in the 8th century dedicated to the virgin goddess Athena. Most of the buildings on the Acropolis today date from the 5th century BCE when Athens was rebuilt after paying back the Persian Empire for razing the city to the ground. The most important monuments built on the Acropolis are: the Parthenon, the Erechtheon, the Propylaea (the monumental entrance to the Acropolis), & the small temple Athena Nike.
The Acropolis became the symbol of Greek democracy and civilization, reason and logic, art and culture to this day. The building of the Acropolis ushered in an age of Greek dominance in the Mediterranean, and more specifically Athenian dominance with the military leader Pericles. Even more miraculous than it’s building, is the fact that it survived about twenty-five centuries through so many wars, explosions (the Ottoman’s used it as an armory), bombardments, earthquakes, invasions, alterations (it was temporarily transformed into a church) and general human stupidity.