An acropolis is a raised portion of a city, usually at the center. The word acropolis comes from the Greek roots “acro”, meaning “high”, and “polis”, meaning “city”. When I first went to the Acropolis, I was excited to see the Parthenon and the other structures. The Athenian Acropolis has a lot of history, including the naming of the city, the theft of some of its structures, and the unique architecture of the Parthenon.
According to legend, when the city of Athens was first created Athena and Poseidon both wanted to become patron of the city. To decide who would become patron, they each gave a gift to the city. Poseidon struck the earth using his trident, making a saltwater spring appear. Athena, however, decided to give the city something more practical, and planted an olive tree. As saltwater is undrinkable, and olive trees can be used for many things, Athena became patron of the city, and thus the city was named Athens.
Some of the artifacts from the Acropolis have been stolen from the structure. In the fifth century AD, a great statue of Athena, named the Athena Parthenos, was stolen (or destroyed) by the Christians. The Parthenon was then converted by the Christians into a church of the Virgin Mary. A man named Lord Elgin stole sections of the frieze, fifteen metopes, seventeen pedimental fragments, and a caryatid from the Erechtheion. Today, these artifacts are in the British Museum.
The structure of the Parthenon is architecturally unique in that the base of the building is curved upward the center both to make it seem straight on the curve of the hill, and to remove rainwater. In addition, the Doric columns are tilted very slightly inward; if they were to continue, they would all meet up almost exactly one mile from the center of the Parthenon.
Even today the Acropolis is more than just a pile of old ruins. You can learn a lot from its history, such as myths, controversy, and architecture. If you ever go to Greece, make sure to check out the Acropolis.
Ander Willy is a family friend visiting us from the United States. He is in 7th grade. This is his first trip outside of North America.