The Erechtheion – Atop The Acropolis

The Erechtheion is an ancient Greek temple on the north side of the Acropolis of Athens. One side of the Erechtheion is the famous porch of the maidens. The six female figures are called caryatids. The caryatids seen today are exact copies of the originals. The recent history is as follows:

This paragraph was taken from Wikipedia:
One of the caryatids was removed by Lord Elgin in order to decorate his Scottish mansion, and was later sold to the British Museum (along with the pedimental and frieze sculpture taken from the Parthenon). Athenian legend had it that at night the remaining five Caryatids could be heard wailing for their lost sister. Elgin attempted to remove a second Caryatid; when technical difficulties arose, he tried to have it sawn to pieces. The statue was smashed, and its fragments were left behind. It was later reconstructed haphazardly with cement and iron rods.

Previous attempted restorations by Greece damaged the roof of the Caryatids’ porch with concrete patches, along with major damage caused by pollution in Athens. In 1979, the five original Caryatids were moved to the Acropolis Museum and replaced in situ by exact replicas. Scientists were working in 2005 to repair the damage using laser cleaning. [Courtesy Wikipedia]

We walked all around the Erechtheion and saw the work being done to restore the building. At the time, I didn’t know that the caryatids were copies. I took a lot of pictures and video and tried to take in the building with the Parthenon in the background.

The temple was built between 421 and 407 BC and it was named after the legendary Greek hero Erichthonius. Some have also thought that it might have been built to honor the legendary king Erechtheus, who may have been buried nearby. The building is believed to have been a replacement for the Pesistratid temple of Athena Polias which was destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC.

The temple is built on a slope and so one side is about 9 feet lower than the other. The entire building is made of marble, brought in from Mount Pentelikon.

Our walk around the building allowed for a good look at all sides. It’s not hard to imagine what the building must have looked like. There was white marble with friezes of black limestone and painted, gilded columns (which aren’t visible today). The Erechtheion is somewhat of a mystery, as not everything is known about it.

What were the WOW moments you experienced?
We were already in awe of the Parthenon, which was right nearby. I think I enjoyed the Erechtheion as much as anything I saw on the Acropolis. It was an interesting building and I’d like to learn more about it.

Greece, Athens, The Erechtheion

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