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Built by the astronomer Andronikos in the 1st century BC. It once contained an elaborate water clock that was fed by a spring on the Acropolis. Sculptures on each of the eight sides of the octagonal marble tower represent the eight points of the compass and the corresponding wind.
You’ll spot Notos, the south end, pouring water from an urn, while Zephyros, the west wind, scatters spring flowers.
Spread out below the tower are the remains of the Roman Forum (Romaiki Agora). On the far side, the four Doric columns were part of the Gate of Athena Archegetis, which marked the main entrance to the market area. One door support, protected by a rusty iron grille, is inscribed with Emperor Hadrian’s edict taxing olive oil.
The Mitropolis, Athens’ cathedral, was completed in 1855 having been built from the remnants of over 70 demolished churches, including a zodiac calendar. On Good Friday evening, the famous candlelight procession takes place here.
The impressive interior, allegedly inspired by St Mark’s in Venice, is bedecked with splendid marble pulpit, floor and columns, huge candelabra, and religious paintings shining with silver revetment. Every inch is covered ic colourful geometric paintwork and mosaics. To the right of the entrance, a silver ossuary bears the sacred remains of Gregory V, the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople; the ossuary on the lfet holds the relics of a 16th-century martyr.
The cathedral is open in the morning, and also from around 5pm to 7 or 8pm and can be found Pandrosou, which ends in the spacious Platia Mitropoleos.
Beside the Mitropolis cathedral is the tiny and lovely Agios Eleftherios, the ‘little Mitropolis’, which is affectionately known as Our Lady Quick-to-answer-Prayers. It was built 800 years ago from much earlier columns and beams.
Over the main door, a 4th-century BC pagan frieze has been nearly obliterated – stamped with the Latin cross by later Christians.
However, if you look carefully you can still see the wheels of the ship bearing Athena’s robe in the Panatheniac procession. This is all that’s left of the known artistic rendering of the famous ship.
Wander around the sprawling ruins of the ancient marketplace, where democracy and philosophy had their beginnings.
The museum within holds a large collection of pots, coins, household objects and pottery fragments (ostraka), on which the Athenians wrote names of prominent men they wanted to vote into exile. Also here are a huge bronze shield taken from the Spartans during the Peloponnesian War and a klirotirion, and unusual device for relegating public duties by lot – and important feature of ancient Athenian democracy.
Across the Acropolis plateau at the northern wall stands the Erechtheion, a temple unlike any other in the ancient world. It originally housed three cults – those of Athena, Poseidon and Erechtheus – in one building. Constructed on irregular ground, the sharply different foundations contribute to its amalgamated shape. Built entirely in wartime, this was the last temple to go up on the Acropolis. Construction lasted 15 years, with the dedication being carried out in 406 BC.
This was the site of the legendary contest between Athena and Poseidon. In a corner of the north porch you’ll find an uncovered hole containing a rock with markings. According to some, these were made by Poseidon’s trident; another version relates that Zeus sent a lightning bolt down upon the scarred rock.
The most famous features of the Erechtheion, are the southern Porch of the Caryatids, where six pound, elegant maidens hold up the roof. Though named after a village near Sparta whose girls were noted in antiquity for their upright posture, the Caryatids were actually Athenians. The long tunics are draped in imitation of column flutings, while the fruit baskets on their heads replace capitals. The portico protected a holy place, the tomb of Athens’ mythical founder – king, Cecrops.
Today’s statues are replicas. Five of the originals were taken inside the Acropolis Museum after being damaged by pollution, the decay reaching 6mm (¼in) in depth. The sixth figure was removed by Lord Elgin to the British Museum.
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Graphic showing average weather in Hadrian's Library in Celcius and Centimeters (Change to Farenheit and Inches)
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