The Propylaia of Athens Acropolis

The Propylaia, the monumental entrance of the sanctuary of the Acropolis, was built at the west edge of the hill in the frame of the building programme of Perikles. The building’s architect was Mnesikles, who applied ingenious and innovative architectural solutions. The construction of the Propylaia (437-432 B.C.) was interrupted by the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, and as a result the original plan remained incomplete.
The Propylaia comprise a central building with an E.-W. Direction and similar hexastyle (6 columns) doric pedimental facades. A cross-wall with five doorways divides the central building into two parts. The longer western one is divided into three aisles by two lonic colonnades, each of three columns, which support the ceiling. The marble ceilings comprised beams and coffered slabs which had rich painted decoration. The central building of the Propylaia is flanked on the south and the north by two wings with a similar prostyle Doric porch.In the north wing the hall lying behind the porch might have served as a banquet and recreation hall for the worshippers. According to the traveler Pausanias (2nd cent. A.D>) the hall was decorated with paintings and for this reason is conventionally known as the “Pinakotheke” (picture gallery). The south wing consists only of a porch through which the sanctuary of Athena Nike was accessed.

In the 6th cent. A.C., the south wing of the Propylaia was transformed into a single-aisle Christian basilica.In the Medieval times, Frankish and Florentine rulers converted the Propylaia into a palace and a tall tower was built at the south wing. During ottoman occupation in 1640, the building was struck by a lighting or a cannonball which blew up the gunpowder stored there and caused extensive damage to the monument.The Medieval and later remains were removed during the excavations of the Acropolis in the 19th cent., in order to reveal the Propylaia og the Classical period.

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