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World Heritage Site

for World Heritage Travellers

Acropolis

Acropolis

The Acropolis, Athens holds a group of monuments that have been influential from Antiquity to Neo-Classicism.

'Acropolis' means Upper City, although it hasn't been a city where people live since the 6th century BC. The monuments are situated on a 60 meter high rock that dominates Athens. Since the 5th century the Acropolis has city walls, turning it into a strong fortification.

On top of the rock, some of the best monuments of Classical Greece can be found: the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheion (421-406). They all date from the 5th century BC.

Map of Acropolis

Legend

  • Cultural

Visit December 2001, September 2018

In 2001, I visited the Athens Acropolis for the first time. I went on a Sunday morning. Entrance was free on that day of the week. I made no note of other visitors, only of being welcomed (or: slightly scared) by 2 stray dogs at the entrance gate. Last month I went back and witnessed what impact the surge in mass tourism has had: the entrance fee is now 20 EUR for this single site and you really have to coordinate your visit well to avoid queuing.

December 2001, September 2018

I arrived at the gate at 7.50 am, 10 minutes before opening. This awarded me with spot #5 in the queue for the ticket office, where 5 people in a row just were getting started doing their repetitive work all day. This is not a kind of job that in Greece is replaced by machines quickly – although you can buy e-tickets. At 8 am the queue had grown to some 40 people. Two dogs also came over to have a look, probably not the same individuals that I encountered 17 years ago!

I was one of the first persons at the site that day and on my way up I even met the party of soldiers that hoist the national flag there each day. The Parthenon is a massive structure, still with scaffolding covering most of its interior. This has been the case for a long time and will go on until 2020 at least. The effect is that you can only walk around it. The other monuments on the plateau are not accessible either (except from the Propylaea via which you enter): this does take something away from the visiting experience.

Walking down via the South slopes you’ll pass more ruins with great historical value but which aren't the best remaining examples of their type that can be found in Greece. A fairly recent addition (re-placement) is one of the poet's statues that adorned the way to the Theater of Dionysus.

December 2001, September 2018

The New Acropolis Museum lies just outside the South Gate, near the Theatre of Dionysus. It is an impressive modern building, the entrance costs a reasonable 5 EUR. There is a strict ‘No photography’ policy here, which came as a surprise as I was able to freely take pictures of about every single object in the excellent National Archaeological Museum of Athens the day before.

The Museum has 3 sloping floors of exhibits. The lower ones I found ‘more of the same’ after having visited the National Archaeological Museum. At the top floor they have a reconstruction of the full Parthenon frieze: “From the entire frieze that survives today, 50 meters are in the Acropolis Museum, 80 meters in the British Museum, one block in the Louvre, whilst other fragments are scattered in the museums of Palermo, the Vatican, Würzburg, Vienna, Munich and Copenhagen”, according to the museum’s website. What I liked best however are the 5 original remaining Caryatid statues that have been saved from the Erechteion. The 6th is in the British Museum. The ones now present at the Erechteion on the Acropolis are replicas.

December 2001, September 2018

I am a bit in doubt whether I should adjust my rating for this WHS. As a visiting experience the Athens Acropolis is somewhat disappointing – I found so this time and that was what I remembered from my previous visit as well. There’s no doubt about its universal value of course. I had rated it 4 stars before (an ‘8 out of 10’ in my own conversion table), a lower score already than given by the average community member. Somehow it feels less ‘grand’ than the Ancient Egyptian temples at Luxor for example, where you can freely roam around and much more is left in situ.

Community Reviews


Jay T USA - 13-Dec-15 -

Acropolis by Jay T

The monuments of the Acropolis stand out majestically amidst the Athenian skyline from the summit of Mount Lycabettus. I visited Athens in spring 2013, and thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Acropolis. The partially damaged Parthenon was spectacular to see up close, but I also liked the other ruins on the plateau, including the Propylaea, the Erectheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike. Additionally, on the climb to the Acropolis I passed by the Aeropagus, or Mars Hill, where the apostle Paul addressed the Athenians in the 1st century AD. Two stories I heard about the German occupation of Athens during World War II illustrate the significance the Acropolis maintains to modern Greek identity. One was of a Greek soldier ordered to remove the large Greek flag from the flagpole on the Acropolis in April 1941; the soldier reluctantly complied, wrapped the flag around him, and jumped off the plateau to his death. A few weeks later two Greek youths snuck into the Acropolis and tore down the Nazi flag, inspiring Greek resistance during Axis occupation.

Logistics: You can reach the Acropolis by Metro, taxi, or foot, but a climb is still required to get to the top of the hill


Tom Livesey United Kingdom - 04-Sep-15

Our trip, in February 2015, gave us two and a half days, which turned out to be quite sufficient for seeing the city’s main sites, both WHS and not.

It was interesting walking past Syntagma Square to see the protesters with their banners decrying Angela Merkel for her insistence that the Greeks continue to walk the path of austerity.

Athens offers a very reasonably-priced ticket that for €12 allows you entry to ten different sites, including the Acropolis.

Walking up to the Acropolis from its south slope we passed the Theatre of Dionysus. This open-air theatre was dedicated to the god known to the Romans as Bacchus – the patron of wine and drama. It was in this theatre that the works of Sophocles and Euripides would have been premiered, and you can still sit on the marble benches. It was quite an amazing place to be.

In addition to the Parthenon, the summit of the Acropolis houses several buildings. They include the Erechtheion, a temple dedicated to Athena and Poseidon. One of the most interesting features of this building is the Porch of the Caryatids, in which six supporting columns were sculpted in the shape of female figures.

The Parthenon itself is not just a pretty building – it has been central to the identity of Athens for dozens of centuries. UNESCO cites the Acropolis as being “the supreme expression of the adaptation of architecture to a natural site”.

The newly-built Acropolis Museum stands near the foot of the hill, in which are housed various statues found across Greece but particularly in Athens and on the Acropolis. The highlight is on the top floor, where you will find one half of what we in Britain call the Elgin Marbles.

Also worth a visit is the National Archaeological Museum - it is really the archetypal classical museum: chock-full of marble statues and other artifacts from across the Hellenic lands, including the enigmatic Antikythera mechanism.


Clyde Malta - 19-Jun-14 -

Acropolis by Clyde

I visited this WHS in June 2014. Although touristy, I really enjoyed my visit and spent a half a day exploring different point of views, buildings, remains and museums included in the 12e entrance fee. Apart from the Parthenon and the Erechtheion with the Porch of Caryatids, I enjoyed visiting the Odeon on the South slope and the surrounding hills, each with a spectacular panoramic view of Athens. I particularly enjoyed visiting the Ancient Agora which is pretty much intact and well worth a visit.


Laura Barber USA - 28-Nov-11

When we arrived in Greece, we were informed that we had to see the Acropolis right away because they were going to close it for several days for repair. Despite being very tired after a long flight, and hot since it was in August and we didn't have time to change into cooler clothes; we were excited to see these incredible ruins! The Parthenon was laced with ladders and supports but it was still awesome. To imagine how old it is and how long it has survived, was amazing. Much of the deterioration you see is a result of different countries taking pieces of the monuments years ago. this pilfering was apparently common long ago. The area is large and spread about. There is a lot to take in and the time passed quickly before closing. We were able in the following days, to visit the Ancient Agora and the Theatre of Dionysius , the Temple of Zeus and the Temple of Poseidon. There were so many old structures that I wasn't sure why more were not included as World Heritage sites.

Athens held a wealth of history and old architecture. It is a place where you can easily spend several days exploring.


pearl anne logan (philippines but currently in denmark) - 03-Dec-08

ACROPOLIS... a must to see. although it is under renovation at this time. nevertheless, it is an amazing place! You could see the whole athens on top of this old city rock. It is quite an experience to visit the place.


IOM Ireland - 14-Aug-08

We visited in June 2008. We were there around 08:30 and it was already hot and busy! Fantastic site, but didn't expect all the building work. The new museum was in soft-opening mode and should be amazing when fully open.


Lauren Malkovsky Senegal - 15-Sep-06

I really enjoyed the Acropolis when i visited it this past winter. This site, out of all of them, helped me incredibly. I made sure I got a tour guide, and got up to the top early in the morning. Thanks to Eric for that!

I suggest everyone visits this world heritage site, and sees what exploration is all about. I love my life, and now that I am exploring the world, I have a purpose.

Thanks again!


Emilia Bautista King U.S.A. - 01-Mar-06

I felt a bit sentimental walking through the Acropolis, as my dad had been there when he served in the US Navy some 30 years before I went. I looked through some of his old photos and saw one of him squatting in front of the Parthenon. I copied his pose and had a photo taken of me in front of the Parthenon. I was also enchanted by the caryatids (pictured above), which I studied in my high school humanities class.

It was stinking hot when I went so if you are going in the summer, be sure to have a hat and sunglasses; you'll need them! I also recommend the nearby Dora Stratou Theatre to watch some traditional Greek dancing!


Caroline Kordahl Cambodia - 14-Dec-05

HEY, i loved all your useful tips. Thanks Eric Hamblett, the tour guide really helped. I travel the world quite a bit, and I have developed a large passion for World Heritage Sites. Nothing pleases me more than to have ancient ruins to visit, and cherish. Evermore, my passion grows to this day. My advice would be to stay in the city, where there is more going on.


Alex Brigmann Vatican City - 06-Nov-05

Thanks for creating such a wonderful site. My religous courses and your guidance helped to achieve perfect satisfication. Athens is an amazing city and I hope to one day visit again. The Acropolis is beautiful especially the great views from above. During the summer months, Whenever I travel, I make sure I check your site to see if there are any World Heritage Sites around the area.

Thanks Again!


Ben Pastore USA - 07-Jun-05

The Acropolis is one of the best cityscape vantage points I've ever seen. Looking down on Mars Hill, a.k.a. the Areopagus, I could just image the apostle Paul addressing the gathered Athenian intellectual community. As the seat of an influential world empire, this site in the heart of Athens gives one real perspective and meaning behind the Greek contributions to the world.


Klaus Freisinger Austria - -

Athens is an interesting city and much less dirty, crowded, and noisy than most people seem to believe, but its attractions are few and far between (great archaeological museum, though). The one exception, though, is of course the Acropolis. It can be seen from almost everywhere in the city and is probably the greatest surviving ancient monument anywhere. Its WH listing says that it symbolizes the idea of world heritage, and that's certainly true. Not only its architectural, cultural, and historical significance is enormous, but it can also be considered to be the birthplace of democracy. So walk up the hill (not very strenuous), enjoy the view, see the temples and the museum, and be aware that everything that makes Western civilization unique started from here. An unmissable and unforgettable experience.


Eric Hamblett Morocco -

The Acropolis was one of the most wonderous places I have visited in a long time. The site is being preserved, and you cant go into the parthenon. But, nonetheless, all the other amazing attractions still captivated my attention. Traffic can be a problem, so I reccomend hiring a guide, or a tour which will take you on the bus.


Christer Sundberg Sweden -

Acropolis by Christer Sundberg

Visiting the classical of all classical World Heritage Sites – The Acropolis of Athens - could not have been a better for me. Having got up early on a bright and sunny Saturday morning in July, I was rewarded with an almost empty town - still in its morning slumber yet to wake up to a new busy day. From my hotel near the Omonia square I walked pass the fish market, where the smell of fresh fish told that new day of commerce was just about to begin, down to the Monastraki square where only one or two of the many souvenir shops had yet opened their doors.

Before walking up the Acropolis hill I sat myself down on one of the many outdoor cafes in Plaka and ordered a cold cappuccino, a quite a popular drink all around Greece I later found out. But I guess anything that is COLD in a country where it’s usually +35 half of the year is highly appreciated.

Walking up the hill did not prove to be as exhausting as many of my friends had told me. The recommendation to be early proved to be hundred percent correct though. Even if I arrived at the entrance at quarter passed eight in the morning on a Saturday, it was still quite a number of tourists already in place. To avoid them as much as possible I quickly walked up the last bit to the magnificent entrance of the Acropolis - the Propylaia - and soon found myself looking at the magnificent Parthenon, the largest Doric temple ever built in Greece, completed in 438 BC. Together with the small Erechtheion temple where the four Caryatids (the four women statues) are holding up the temple is an absolute classic place and a visit that every man and women ought to do once in their life.

The Parthenon is currently undergoing some extensive repair and refurbishing and considering that it’s actually not time and age who has eroded the temple, but rather a large explosion back in the 17th century, it’s quite OK in my opinion. But other attempts, trying to enhance or re-construct ancient temples, is quite a nuisance and should in my opinion be forbidden and just turns historic sites into Disneylands. But on the hot issue of whether Parthenon’s famous frieze should be returned by the British Museum to Athens, the answer is quite obvious when you stand in front of this enormous and beautiful temple - there is no museum in the world that could do justice to the original site, specially not the Acropolis of Athens.

After having walked round the temple hill for an hour I descended back down to the Plaka district and continued my walk to the ancient Agora, the cemetery Keramikos, the Roman theatre of Herodes Atticus and the Theatre of Dionysos, all located at the foot of the Acropolis hill and part of the Acropolis World Heritage Site. Having finalised my walk I found that it was just about 2 in the afternoon and with not a cloud in the sky it was just getting hotter and hotter….high time to reward myself with a Greek lunch and maybe a siesta…


Susan Smith Turkey -

It was so exciting. I loved Athens. I will definitely visit again! Your website made it possible for me to find info before I left which was extremely helpful.


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Site Info

Full name: Acropolis, Athens

Unesco ID: 404

Inscribed: 1987

Type: Cultural

Criteria: 1   2   3   4   6  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 1987 - Revision Reduced from former TWHS Athens (1985)
  • 1987 - Inscribed 

Locations

The site has 1 locations.

  • Acropolis

Connections

The site has 35 connections.

Architecture

Constructions

  • Theatres: Remains of an outdoor theatre called Theatre of Dionysus, and the now partially reconstructed Theatre of Herodes Atticus
  • Harem: "After the Ottoman conquest, the Parthenon was used as the garrison headquarters of the Turkish army,] and the Erechteum was turned into the Governor's private Harem
  • Acropolis
  • Asklepieion: The Asklepion was situated on the South slope of the Acropolis - "founded in the end of 5th century BCE by a man named Telemachus, who brought the cult of the healer god in Athens from Epidaurus. The place where it was built was selected because there was a small spring, very essential element for the cleaning of the patients.The sanctuary consisted of a the small temple of Asclepius and two stoas. The one was Doric and two-storied. This was used as an infirmary. It was called enkoimeterion (the place where someone sleeps) because there slept the patients waiting to see the god in their dream, giving the advises for treatment or to cure them. A second smaller ionic stoa could be found westwards. It had four rooms in which the various visitors resided. The sanctuary was destroyed in 267 CE by their Heruli and later on, was replaced by a Christian basilica dedicated to the Saints Anargyri, not by chance, as they are considered protectors of health."  Link

Damaged

History

Individual People

  • Earls of Elgin: The 7th Earl of Elgin (1766-1841). He was British Ambassador to Constantinople 1799-1803. Broadly interpreting the authority he had been granted by the Ottoman authorities he arranged for the removal of the Parthenon marbles between 1801 and 1812 (together with parts of the Propylaea and a Caryatid from the Erechtheum). He ultimately sold them (at a loss to himself) to the British Government who placed them in the British Museum where they controversially are to this day.
  • Lord Byron: Lived in Athens in 1810. Opposed Lord Elgin's removal of the Parthenon Marbles and wrote "The Curse of Minerva" to denounce Elgin's actions. Link
  • Theodor Wiegand: In 1894 he worked under Wilhelm Dörpfeld at the excavation of the Athenian Acropolis. (Wiki). Published "Die archaische Poros-Architektur der Akropolis zu Athen", German Academy of Sciences in Berlin, 1904

Religion and Belief

Timeline

Trivia

WHS Hotspots

WHS on Other Lists

World Heritage Process

Visitors

475 community members have visited Acropolis.