The acropolis was the high point of a city -- literally. In Athens, the Acropolis was on a steep hill. The Acropolis was the main sanctuary of Athens' patron goddess Athena, which was called the Parthenon. During Mycenaean times, there was a wall surrounding the Acropolis. Pericles had a Parthenon re-built after the Persians destroyed the city. He had Mnesicles design the Propylaea as a gateway to the Acropolis from the west. The Acropolis housed a shrine of Athena Nike and the Erechtheum in the 5th century.
The Odeum of Pericles was built at the foot of the southeastern part of the Acropolis [Lacus Curtius]. On the south slope of the Acropolis were sanctuaries of Asclepius and Dionysus. In the 330s a theater of Dionysus was built. There was also a Prytaneum perhaps on the north side of the Acropolis.
Northwest of the Acropolis was a lower hill where the Areopagus lawcourt was located.
The Pnyx is a hill west of the Acropolis where the Athenian assembly met.
The agora was the center of Athenian life. Laid out in the 6th century B.C., northwest of the Acropolis, it was a square lined by public buildings, which served Athens' needs for commerce and politics. The Agora was the site of the bouleuterion (council-house), the Tholos (dining hall), the archives, mint, lawcourts, and magistrates' offices, sanctuaries (Hephaisteion, Altar of the Twelve Gods, Stoa of Zeus Eleutherius, Apollo Patrous), and stoas. The agora survived the Persian wars. Agrippa added an odeum in c. 15 B.C. In the second century A.D. the Roman Emperor Hadrian added a library to the north of the Agora. Alaric and the Visigoths destroyed the Agora in A.D. 395.
- Oliver T. P. K. Dickinson, Simon Hornblower, Antony J. S. Spawforth "Athens" The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Simon Hornblower and Anthony Spawforth. © Oxford University Press.
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