Opisthonaos, detail of west frieze copies
Parthenon. View of the east porch with restoration completed. View from the southeast.
Parthenon. Opisthonaos. Joining fragments to a column capital.
Parthenon. The north side before restoration. View from the northeast.
Parthenon. Lowering an ancient metope from the west corner of the north side of the monument (2007).
Measuring a drum of the Parthenon north colonnade
Parthenon. Resetting of an ancient column capital of the north colonnade.
Parthenon. Resetting an architrave block of the north side. View from the north.
Restoration of the east side of the monument, which had suffered very serious damage because of the earthquake of 1981, was carried out between 1984 and 1991. The proposal, based on the study by M. Korres, was to dismantle the corners of the pediment and the corresponding entablature. In the course of the work, however, previously invisible breaks in the architectural members were discovered, which led to the extension of the works to include the entire pediment together with the horizontal cornice, the Doric frieze and the capital and uppermost drum of the 7th from the north column. The intervention was extended also to include the first metopes of the north side and the underlying cornice. Removal of the architectural members was followed by their structural restoration and they were then reset in their original positions. It was decided that it was necessary to replace the original metopes with copies in artificial stone.
In February 1992 work began on the restoration of the 5th column from the east in the south colonnade. The column had been damaged during the explosion of 1687, with the result that it had shifted and was inclined toward the south. Since the problem lay in the first drum, the column from the second drum up had to be removed as a whole, so that the continuity of the intermediate drums would be undisturbed. The intervention was carried out using an improvised mechanism for clasping and transporting that was designed by M. Korres and K. Zambas. The column was moved all in one piece and placed temporarily in the interior of the temple, while the first drum was being restored. The intervention was completed in July 1993.
Restoration of the pronaos of the Parthenon was carried out between the years 1995 and 2004, on the basis of the approved study of M. Korres. The proposal was for partial restoration of the first three columns from the north and the complete restoration of the fourth and fifth columns. Structural restoration was carried out on the members of the second, third, fourth and fifth columns from the north and on the preserved architrave blocks of the 4th and 5th intercolumniations. The sixth from the north column was dismantled down to the level of the second drum and was completely reassembled after its members were structurally restored. Relevant studies were carried out by the civil engineer M. Mentzini. Structural restoration were carried out by the civil engineers K. Zamba and M. Mentzini. All the new supplements were given an artificial patina so as to lessen the contrast between ancient and new marble. It remains to carve the fluting of the new marble pieces in the columns and to reset the architrave between the porch and the SE anta.
The programme for restoring the opisthonaos began in 1992, on the basis of the relevant study by P. Kouphopoulos, who was in addition the technical advisor for the work. The programme was implemented in two stages and completed in 2004. While the work proceeded, supplementary implementation studies were made by the architect P. Christodoulopoulou and studies for the structural restoration of the architectural members were made by the civil engineer E. Toumbakari. The first phase of the programme comprised the dismantling of the roof beams of the colonnade, the crown blocks of the west porch, and the west frieze blocks, which were taken to the Acropolis Museum in 1993. The second phase of the programme began in 2001 with the dismantling of the remaining members of the entablature of the west porch, a number of column capitals and top column drums. After all the members had been restored and some had been reassembled from ancient fragments, they were reset in the summer of 2004. The blocks of the west frieze that had been removed from the monument were replaced by copies cast in artificial stone. Consolidation of those columns that had never been dismantled in the past was carried out in situ, with special injections, in order to retain their authentic structure intact. This was done on the basis of the study by the civil engineer A. Miltiadou.
The restoration of the north colonnade of the temple began in October 2001. The approved study (initial study by K. Zambas, definitive study and implementation study by L. Lambrinou and R. Christodoulopoulou) stipulated the dismantling of eight columns (from the 4th to the 11th from the east) and the corresponding parts of the entablature above, the replacement of the concrete supplements of the previous intervention with supplements of new marble, the resetting in the monument of all identifiable ancient pieces, the replacement of existing clamps and dowels with corresponding ones of titanium and the anastelosis of the architectural members in their original positions so as to correct the earlier misplacements and transpositions. The structural restoration of the architectural members is being carried out on the basis of the relevant studies by the civil engineer M. Mentzini, and also by the engineers Ch. Kyparissi, E.E. Toumbakari and A. Vrouva. Much of this work has now been finished and the project is continuing at a good pace. In 2007 the programme was expanded to include the dismantling of the 7 ancient metopes that were still in situ and the conservation - restoration of the members of the west part of the entablature of the north peristyle (study by P. Chistodoulopoulou).
Completion of the intervention gave to the monument both structural strength and aesthetic wholeness, since the north side and the west side of the Parthenon together provide one of the most complete views of the temple, both for the visitor to the sacred rock and from most points of the city.
Parthenon. Final cutting of the flutes on a column drum.
Taking down the pedimental sima with the lion-head pseudo-spout, northwest corner
Parthenon. Restoration works at the north side.
The Erechtheion, a temple of the Ionic order built between 421 and 406 B.C., was dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. Its unique architectural plan and the richness of its sculptural decoration have given the temple a prominent position in the history of ancient Greek architecture. The east part of the temple, behind the hexastyle Ionic porch, was sacred to the cult of Athena Polias. It is here where the cult statue (xoanon) of the goddess, the focus of the Panathenaic Festival, was kept.
The west part of the building, particularly dedicated to Poseidon, housed also the cults of Hephaistos and the local hero Boutes. The west façade of the temple was a hexastyle Ionic colonnade on a podium. The north porch of the temple, with six Ionic columns arranged in the form of the Greek letter Π, was roofed with an excellently executed coffered ceiling. A magnificent doorway with a carved doorframe led from the north porch to the west section of the temple. The porch of the Caryatids at the southwest corner is an emblematic feature of the temple: six female figures support the ceiling of the south porch, retaining all their grace despite the weight of the overlying construction.
The Erechtheion underwent extensive repairs and reformation for the first time during the 1st century B.C., after its catastrophic burning by the Roman general Sulla. The building was altered decisively during the early Byzantine period, when it was transformed into a church. With this alteration many architectural features of the ancient construction were lost, so that our knowledge of the interior arrangement of the building is limited. Among the significant points in the historical course of the Erechtheion are also its transformation into the palace of the bishopric during the Frankish domination and subsequently, during the Ottoman occupation, into a dwelling for the harem of the Turkish commander of the garrison.
The serious catastrophes suffered by the monument include its plundering by Lord Elgin, whose cohorts made off with the north column of the east porch together with the overlying section of the entablature and one of the Caryatids. The monument suffered severe damage also during the War of Independence, when the ceiling of the north porch was blown up and a large section of the lateral walls of the cella was dismantled.
The forming of the Greek state assured conditions necessary for launching restoration interventions on the Acropolis. Minor interventions were carried out on the Erechtheion in the middle of the 19th century. The form of the building as we know it today, however, is due largely to the extensive restoration performed by N. Balanos between the years 1902 and 1909, in which much of the ancient building was restored.
Preparation for moving the original Caryatids to the Acropolis Museum.
After the decision of 448 B.C. to rebuild the sanctuaries that had been destroyed by the Persians, the Parthenon was the first building that the Athenians dedicated to the goddess Athena, protectress of the city. It was a temple in the Doric order, peripteral, with eight columns at the narrow ends and seventeen along the sides, hexastyle porches (pronaos and opisthonaos) and many Ionic features. The temple, built on the site of an earlier temple, the pre-Parthenon (490-480 B.C.), dominated the rock because of its proportions, the perfection of its construction and the richness of its sculptural decoration. It is attributed to the architects Iktinos and Kallikrates, with the general supervision of the work and responsibility for the sculptural programme in the hands of the sculptor Pheidias. The construction of the temple lasted from 447 to 438 B.C., while the pedimental sculpture was completed only a few years later, in 432 B.C.
In plan, the main temple is divided into three parts: the pronaos (front porch), the cella (sanctuary) and the opisthonaos (rear porch). The cella was divided by a cross wall into two unequal spaces, a larger one to the east and a smaller one, the opisthodomos, at the west. In the east space, in front of a two-storied colonnade forming a Π, stood the chryselephantine (gold and ivory) cult statue of Athena, a work by the sculptor Pheidias. The goddess was shown in her warrior aspect, standing, armed, holding a Nike (Victory) on her outstretched right hand and resting her left upon her shield. The opisthodomos at the west, accessible through the opisthonaos, had four Ionic columns, which supported the ceiling. From 433 B.C. on, this is where the public funds of the city were kept.
A highly sophisticated system of "refinements" was employed in the Parthenon to alleviate the "heaviness" of the Doric style and to give the building grace and harmony: the curve of the crepis, the stylobate and the entablature, the entasis (convex curve) of the columns, the contraction of the corner intercolumniations, and the decrease in width of the metopes from the centre to the corners.
Its sculptural decoration was an integral part of the temple. It was executed with unique sensitivity and artistic skill by a group of sculptors headed by Pheidias. Represented in the pediments are two basic episodes in the life of the goddess Athena: her birth, in the East Pediment, and her contest with the god Poseidon, in the West. The scenes shown in the metopes are inspired by mythical struggles: on the east side is shown the Gigantomachy, on the west the Amazonomachy, on the south the Centauromachy, and on the north side scenes from the Trojan War. Unique for a Doric temple is the Ionic frieze that encircles the exterior of the cella and the two interior porches. The frieze shows a theme drawn from the life of Athens, the great festival of the city, the Panathenaia. The temple's acroteria too are of special interest, with Nikes on the corners and a floral design on the apex.
The building remained intact in all its perfection for centuries. In late Roman times it suffered serious damage from fire. It was repaired in the 4th century A.C., probably during the reign of the emperor Julian. Shortly after that, the temple underwent alterations so that it could function as a church. During the mid-Byzantine period a considerable number of inscriptions were made in the columns of the Parthenon and a good many wall paintings were added. In 1205, the temple was dedicated to the Holy Mother of Athens. The stairway that was built in the south corner of the opisthonaos is also attributed to the time of the Latin occupation. A few decades after the taking of Athens by the Turks in 1460, the Parthenon was changed into a mosque and the stairway became a minaret. The greatest catastrophe in the entire history of the temple occurred in 1687 when it was bombarded during the siege of the Acropolis by the Venetians. The explosion of the gunpowder that the Turks had stored within the monument caused extensive parts of the temple to collapse and turned the monument into a ruin. This picture of destruction was completed during the 19th century with the systematic removal of the sculpture of the temple by Lord Elgin. Eighteen pedimental statues, 15 metopes and 56 blocks of the Ionic frieze were ruthlessly severed from the Parthenon.
ith the founding of the Greek State in 1833, the Parthenon took on the character of a national symbol. This is when the first efforts were made to restore it and to remove the additions of mediaeval and more recent times. An important landmark in the modern history of the monument is provided by the restorations carried out by N. Balanos during the years 1896-1902 and 1923-1933. These have given the monument its present appearance.