The Parthenon is one of the most well-known pieces of Ancient Greek architecture. The residents of Athens constructed the Parthenon at the time when they were at the height of their dominance. The Parthenon was mainly constructed as a temple for the Goddess Athena who was the chief deity worshipped by the residents of Athens. Construction of the building began during 447 BCE and lasted until 438 BCE. The decoration of the Parthenon lasted for several more years until 432 BCE. Several historians consider the Parthenon to be the most significant structure that survived from the Classical Greek era and is one of the oldest places of worship still standing.
Reasons for the Construction of the Parthenon
Before the Parthenon was built, the residents of Athens worshipped at an older structure referred to as the Older Parthenon. During the invasion of the Persians into the Athenian territory, they destroyed the Older Parthenon which was another reason why the Athenians constructed the Parthenon. Apart from serving as a house of worship, the Parthenon was also used as a treasury by the Athenian Empire. After the Greek civilization collapsed, other cultures also used the Parthenon as a place of worship as the Ottomans converted it into a mosque while the Christians turned it into a church and it was consecrated for the Virgin Mary.
Designers of the Parthenon
Several ancient sources indicate that the designers of the Parthenon were Ictinus and Callicrates. Ictinus was famous for integrating several architectural styles in his buildings such as the Temple of Apollo at Bassae which successfully incorporated the Corinthian, Ionic, and Doric styles. Callicrates was famous for designing the Temple of Nike.
Architectural Style of the Parthenon
The architectural style used in constructing the Parthenon has long been a subject of fascination for historians and architects. In designing the Parthenon, the designers made use of both the Doric and Ionic architectural styles. One of the unique features of the Parthenon is the collection of eight columns on each of the building's sides which was a common architectural design in Ancient Greece known as octastyle. Apart from the octastyle columns, the building also has seventeen columns on the sides. The columns were vital as they ensured that the building had sufficient support to prevent it from collapsing. Imbrices and tegulae, a type of overlapping tiles regularly used in Ancient Greek buildings, were used to cover the roof of the Parthenon. Due to the complexity of its design as well as its beauty, architects consider the Parthenon to be the perfect example of Doric architectural style.
Sculptures in the Parthenon
The Parthenon housed some popular structures such as the statue of Athena Parthenos which was made from gold and ivory. The statue, designed and sculpted by Phidias, was one of the most important pieces in the entire Parthenon since it was one of the most famous images of Athena. Other statues contained in the Parthenon were pediments which were described by Pausanias.
Restoration of the Parthenon
Due to the cultural importance of the Pantheon, the Greek government put in place several plans to ensure that the building and other important cultural sites were preserved. A committee was formed, and the efforts to restore the building to its original status, which attracted aid from the European Union. The Parthenon, as part of the Acropolis of Athens, is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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