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The Parthenon Architecture

The Parthenon on the Acropolis was built in octastyle Doric with Ionic architectural features. The temple was constructed during the High Classical period, and as an architectural sculpture, it is considered the peak of the development of the Doric order. The Parthenon temple was built under the supervision of the sculptor Phidias by the architects Callicrates and Ictinus in the mid – 5th century BC. The work began in 447 BC, and the Parthenon was completed by 438. At the same time, the exterior decoration of the Parthenon temple continued until 432 BC.

Before the Parthenon we know was built, inhabitants of Athens worshipped at an Older Parthenon. This Older Parthenon was destroyed by the Persians During their invasion into the Athenian territory. That is one of the reasons why the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens was built. The Parthenon Acropolis was dedicated to Athena Parthenos, the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and warfare. The Parthenon was used as a house of worship and also as a treasury by the Athenian Empire. During the centuries after the Greek civilization collapsed, the Parthenon was used as a place of worship. The Ottomans converted the temple into a mosque, and Christians converted the Parthenon into a church consecrated for the Virgin Mary.

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The original Parthenon Temple

The Parthenon we know today replaced Pre-Parthenon, also known as the Older Parthenon – the older temple of Athena, which was destroyed in the Persian invasion in 480 BC. The existence and the destruction of the older temple of Athena were known from Herodotus. During the centuries, the Parthenon has suffered damage. Even with the loss of most of the Parthenon architecture sculpture, the rectangular white marble Parthenon has remained intact. The Parthenon was intact until the 5th century CE, when the temple was transformed into a Christian Church, and the Phidias’s colossal statue was removed.

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Inside of the Parthenon

The only light coming through the inside of the temple was from the east Parthenon doorway. Entered from the west is a smaller square chamber behind the cella. The west and east ends of the interior of the Parthenon building are each faced by a portico of six columns. The building is 228.14 feet (69.54 meters) long and 101.34 feet (30.89 meters) wide.

Athena Parthenos

The statue of the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and warfare Athena Parthenos housed within the Parthenon is Athena Parthenos. The figure sculpted by Phidias was carved out of wood and covered in ivory and gold. The statue of Athena Parthenos represented a fully-armed powerful woman wearing a goatskin shield called an aegis. Athena held a shield in her left hand and a six-foot-tall statue of the Greek Goddess Nike. That illustrated various battle scenes during the centuries. The figure no longer exists in the Parthenon temple. It stood in the Parthenon until the 5th century, when it was mostly lost in a fire. Some sources, however, claim that the Athena Parthenos statue was removed to Constantinople in the 10th century.

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The Parthenon Cella

The chamber (cella) inside the temple that housed the worship statue was named ‘house of Parthenos’ or the Parthenon in the 5th century BCE. And from the 4th century BC, the whole temple building acquired the name Parthenon. The colonnades surround the Parthenon cella, and it housed the statue of Athena Parthenos. The Parthenon cella is divided into two compartments. The columns with fluted shafts and no bases with simple capitals are of the Doric order, while the sculptured frieze in low relief is part of the Ionic architecture.

The Frieze And Metopes Of Parthenon

The Parthenon sculpture decorations show the Parthenon architecture in careful harmony. The metopes over the outer colonnade of the Parthenon temple represent a battle between gods and giants on the east. A battle between Greeks and centaurs is depicted on the south side of the Parthenon. A battle between Greeks and Amazons is represented on the west, and the ones on the temple’s north side are almost all lost. Relief frieze around the top of the cella of the Parthenon wall depicts the procession of citizens honoring goddess Athena. The entire work is a wonder of clarity and composition enchanted by bronze accessories and color.

The frieze in low relief contained 92 metopes, 32 each on the north and south sides and 14 each on the west and east side. The metope Parthenon sculpture dates to the years 464-440 BC. The metopes are examples of the Severe Style in the anatomy of the heads of the figures. Some of them are located in the British Museum, some are situated at Acropolis Museum, and one is at Louvre Museum.

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The Parthenon Columns

The Parthenon temple stands on a platform of three steps, and it is surrounded by columns carrying an entablature. Fifty columns are surrounding the Parthenon, eight Parthenon columns on both the east and west side of the Parthenon, and 17 Parthenon columns on the north and south, which encloses an interior rectangular chamber, called cella. In diameter, the corner columns are more significant than the other columns, and they are slightly tapered to give a symmetrical appearance to the Parthenon temple.

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The Parthenon Restoration

The Greek government started the restoration of the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens in 1975. The Conservation of the Acropolis Monuments, the archeological committee, was established in 1983. for the planning, supervision, and directing of the restoration work on the Parthenon of the Acropolis. The Parthenon restoration project comprises surface conservation works on the Parthenon temple, anastylosis interventions and structural restoration, surface conservation works, an educational program, extensive documentation procedures.

Every artifact remaining on the site was documented, and its original location was determined with the computer model assistance. A crane was installed in order to move the Parthenon marble blocks. Each piece of marble was returned to its original position, and the gaps were filled with new marble, which the ancient Athenians used. The project lasted for over 40 years, and it was decided that the Parthenon will not be restored to its original glory. The Parthenon temple will continue to stand as a partial ruin with the design element and artifacts that reflect its decadent glory.