The Parthenon | A Window into Ancient Greek Civilization & its Architectural Masterpieces


Built during the 5th century, Parthenon is a Greek temple in Athens that was dedicated to the Greek goddess, Athena Parthenos. Read on to learn more about the Parthenon temple including when was it built, why is it famous, and more.

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What is the Parthenon?

Parthenon Athens Greece

Why is the Parthenon in Athens Famous?

The Parthenon in Athens is famous due to many reasons. It was built after the victory of the Athenians who drove out the Persians and was a symbol of Athens’ freedom. Built using the Doric architectural style, there are 16,500 pieces that fit together perfectly in the temple. That’s not all, the design showcases the citizens’ prowess in maths and geometry. Moreover, the temple housed a gold and ivory statue of Athena that was 12-meter long and considered a masterpiece.

What does Parthenon mean?

Parthenon temple’s name comes from the Greek word παρθενών that means ‘unmarried women’s apartment’. In the case of the temple, the name Parthenon was initially used to refer to only one particular room within the temple. Also, the epithet parthénos translates to maiden girl or virgin, an unmarried woman which was used for Athena and Artemis a lot. This is why it is said that Parthenon means ‘the temple of a virgin goddess’ as it was dedicated to the Greek goddess, Athena Parthenos.

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Who Built the Parthenon in Athens?

The architects Ictinus and Callicrates worked on the Parthenon temple with the supervision of Phidias. Phidias also worked on a few sculptures inside this Greek temple including the 12m sculpture of Athena Parthenos made from gold and ivory. The architects used both the Doric and Iconic architectural styles to build the Parthenon in Athens.

History of Parthenon In A Nutshell

Temple to Church

(Before 1258)

Before the Parthenon, an older structure named Older Parthenon stood at the top of Acropolis and acted as a place of worship and a treasury. However, it was destroyed after the invasion of Persians into Athens. In 447 BC, the Athenian statesman named Pericles commenced the construction of the Parthenon temple. The temple was completed and dedicated in 438 BC but the decorative work and sculpture installation continued till 432 BC.

Between 1208 and 1258, the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church after Christian Byzantine took over Greece and outlawed worship of Greek gods. 

Under the Ottoman Empire

(1458- 19th Century)

In 1458 A.D., the Muslim Ottoman Empire seized the territory from the Christian Byzantine. They converted the church into a mosque and kept many paintings and artifacts from the church. When the Ottomans faced an attack in 1687 led by Francesco Morosini, they converted the mosque into an ammunitions depot and shelter. However, the Parthenon temple suffered heavy damage after being bombarded with cannonballs. After the attack, the Parthenon temple was in ruins. Thomas Bruce took a few sculptures and marble friezes from the temple in the 19th century to display at the British Museum.

After Independence

(Post 1820s)

Finally, in the 1820s, the Greeks fought for their independence against Turkish rule. This resulted in the Turks removing hundreds of the marble blocks from the temple and making bullets from the temple’s architectural elements. In 1975, the Greek government decided to start the restoration project for Acropolis and Parthenon. They reviewed each relic from the ruins and used computer technology to identify its original position. In 2008, the construction of the Acropolis Museum was completed. A large area of the museum is dedicated to the Parthenon and the pieces taken by Elgin are shown as a veiled plaster cast.

Parthenon Today

In 1687, the Parthenon suffered serious damage after the attack on Athens by Francesco Morosini. Several of the sculptures were brought to the British Museum by Lord Elgin in the 1800s. These were called Parthenon marbles or Elgin marbles. Other sculptures can be found at the Louvre museum in Paris, Copenhagen, and other destinations. Many sculptures are still in Athens and can be found at the Acropolis Museum. Once Greece achieved its freedom, the government started the restoration work on the Acropolis and the Parthenon which continues to this date.  

What is the Purpose of the Parthenon?

Greece Acropolis Parthenon Purpose

Early Days

Parthenon’s main purpose in the early days was as a temple dedicated to the Greek virgin goddess, Athena. In ancient times, the temple featured a gold and ivory statue of Athena where her cult gathered. According to the experts, a procession was held once every four years in Athens to honor Athena that can be seen depicted on a frieze. Apart from its religious significance, the Parthenon temple was commissioned by Pericles. The temple was a symbol of Athens city’s power and culture as it was built at the peak of its power.

Greece Acropolis Parthenon Purpose


In the present time, Parthenon is one of the finest architectural buildings in Greece. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temple has many carvings and sculptures that show the classical artistry of this. The sculptures of the Parthenon can be found in different countries including Greece, Italy, and Great Britain. Even today, the Parthenon temple is a symbol of the ancient Greek empire’s power and advanced culture. It is currently one of the most recognizable sites in Greece and attracts visitors from all over the world.

Design and Structure of the Parthenon

Parthenon Architecture


Parthenon is a Doric-style temple that was built in the 5th century. The architects Ictinus and Callicrates under the supervision of Phidias worked on the design of the temple. Parthenon is made out of Pentelic marble and rests on a base with 3 steps. There were 8 Doric columns in the front and 17 columns on each side. Each column was 10.4 meters high while the base of the Parthenon was 69.5 X 30.9 meters. To give the impression of absolute perfection, several elements were specifically composed and optical corrections were used. 

Parthenon Architecture


There are 92 carved metopes on the exterior walls of the Parthenon temple. A metope is a black square that is placed between three-channeled triglyph rocks. The metopes present on the west side of the temple show the mythical battle between Ancient Greeks and the Amazons. It is not certain but seems to be the work of Kalamis. On the east façade, the metope depicts the mythical battle between the giants and the gods. The metopes on the north side show the Trojan war while the ones on the south side depict the battle between Lapiths and the mythical centaurs.

Parthenon Frieze

Parthenon Frieze

One of the most interesting parts of Parthenon architecture is the Ionic frieze that runs along the entire walls of the temple. Frieze is a broad horizontal band that can be found in the inner chamber of the Parthenon. Carved using the bas-relief technique, the sculptures of the frieze were slightly raised from their background. According to Historians, the frieze depicts the Panathenaic procession to Acropolis. This special procession that takes place once every four years shows Athenians honoring Greek goddess Athena. They offer her sacrifices and a new peplo dress and once can see the procession get more crowded near the gods on the eastern side of Parthenon.

Parthenon Pediments


Located on the two sides of the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens, pediments were made by several artists such as Agoracritos. These pediments are two sets of statues made on Pentelic white marble. The east facade pediment showed the birth of the Greek goddess Athena with other gods and goddesses being witnesses to it. On the west pediment, one could notice the conflict between Athena and the God of the sea, Poseidon, to claim the control of Attica including Athens. The supporters of Athena can be seen trailing behind her chariot while Poseidon’s defenders stand behind him. The pediment statues were complex yet detailed and showed the determination of the sculptors to accurately capture the human body in their art.

Parthenon- Athena Parthenos

Athena Parthenos

Athena Parthenos is a chryselephantine sculpture made by Phidias of the Greek Goddess Athena. The statue was housed in the Parthenon temple and one of the greatest works of the sculptor. This statue was approximately 12 meters tall and weighed around 1100 kg. Although the statue is lost, one can see its design on the coins and engraved gems. Athena’s statue depicts her after victory in combat. In her left hand, she holds a spear while a shield lays close to her feet. In her right hand, she holds Nike, the goddess of Victory. This ivory and gold sculpture of Athena is a masterpiece that’s been lost for ages now.


The Greek government started focusing on the restoration of the Acropolis and Parthenon in Athens in 1975. A committee named the Acropolis Restoration Project was formed. The committee, with the help of architect Manolis Korres, documented every artifact and identified its original location with the help of computer technology. A few important and fragile sculptures were shifted to the Acropolis Museum.

All Your Questions Answered About Parthenon Tickets

Q. What is the Parthenon?

A. A. The Parthenon in Athens is a beautiful marble temple built during the height of the Greek empire’s power. Dedicated to the Greek goddess, Athena, the Parthenon temple sits over a collection of temples known as the Acropolis.

Q. How much does Parthenon tickets cost?

A. The Parthenon temple ticket prices start from €12. You can buy your Parthenon tickets here.

Q. Do I need to purchase separate tickets to Parthenon?

A. No, your Acropolis tickets includes access to Parthenon.

Q. How do I purchase Parthenon tickets?

A. You can buy Parthenon tickets at the Acropolis ticket gate, Or, you can buy your Parthenon tickets online, allowing you to plan your holiday in advance and avail yourself discounts.

Q. When was the Parthenon in Athens built?

A. The Parthenon in Athens was built between 447 BC and 432 BC.

Q. Who built the Parthenon in Athens?

A. The architects Callicrates and Ictinus worked on the design for the Parthenon temple under the supervision of Phidias, a sculptor.

Q. How old is the Parthenon in Athens?

A. Parthenon temple is 2,467 years old as it was built between 447 BC and 432 BC.

Q. What is the difference between the Acropolis and Parthenon?

A. The Acropolis is the hill on which the Parthenon temple sits in Athens.

Q. What is the Parthenon in Athens famous for?

A. The Acropolis Parthenon in Athens was the largest and most lavish temple that the Greeks had ever seen. Built during the 5th century, the Parthenon temple was a symbol of the power, culture, and wealth of the ancient Greek empire.

Q. What is the architectural style of the Parthenon?

A. Parthenon in Athens was built using Classical architectural style.

Q. What is inside the Parthenon in Athens?

A. For a few years, the Parthenon temple is undergoing renovation so a major part of it is covered in scaffolding. You will see the marble columns of the temple while many of the artifacts from here can be viewed at the Acropolis Museum. Earlier, there were statues on each side of the temple with hand carvings that shared the story of Athens and its revered goddess, Athena, and the city.

Q. Why was the Athenian Parthenon built?

A. Parthenon temple was built in Athens during the peak of ancient Greeks’ dominance. It was mainly constructed as a dedication to the goddess Athena who was worshipped by the citizens of Athens.

Q. What is the Parthenon used for today?

A. The Parthenon is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Greece today. There is a huge restoration project underway to rebuild the Acropolis and Parthenon. The Acropolis Museum features the fragile sculptures and friezes from the Parthenon that were in the possession of the Greek government.