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Athens Greece Parthenon

Parthenon, the symbol of Greece and the city’s most celebrated landmark, was built in the 5th century BC on the Acropolis of Athens. It is considered the highest achievement of Doric Order architecture, which is characterized by solemn grandeur of forms and clear precision of lines. It is believed to be built by two architects, Iktinus and Kallikrates, and commissioned by Pericles to embody economical and political might of Athens. At that time the city became the seat for Delian League ( the association of ancient Greek  city-states led by Athens) and major cultural and artistic centre. The project was probably the most ambitious for its epoch, the majority of expenses coming from transporting the marble from Mount Pentelicus, 16 km from Athens. These were partly funded by Delian league, moved there from Panhellenic sanctuary in Delos.

The temple served as sanctuary and treasury. In the 6th century AD it was converted into Christian church, dedicated to Virgin, and after the Ottoman conquest – into mosque. In 1687 the Ottoman ammunition dump in the cellar was ignited by Venetian bombardment, causing the explosion, which severely damaged the building. In 1806, some of the surviving sculptures were removed and sent to England by Lord Elgin. They are now kept in the British museum, and Greek government has not succeeded yet in returning them home.

The design features some marvelous artistic elements – the columns are thinner on top, and the stylobate, the platform on which they stand, is slightly curved upwards, which gives this grandiose edifice the impression of lightness and refinement. The marble is of warm yellowish shade, shimmering gold in the blazing Athens sun. Recent archeological researches showed, that Parthenon was probably painted in hues of red, violet and golden, which could have sparkled like diamonds in the sun.

The temple was adorned with sculptural compositions, consisting of ninety-two metopes – sculptures carved in high relief. According to the building records, the metope sculptures date to the years 446-440 BC. They display scenes from the Greek mythology, such as Gigantomachy – battles between Olympian Gods and Giants, battles between the tribe of Lapiths and Centaurs, the sack of Troy.  The Ionic frieze, running around the exterior walls, is created by Phidias in the bas-relief technique. It represents the celebration of Panathenaic procession, dedicated to Athena. Nowadays many elements of sculptural decoration are being preserved in the Acropolis museum.

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