Temple of Athena Nike

The Temple of Athena Nike (Greek: Ναός Αθηνάς Νίκης, Naós Athinás Níkis) is a temple on the Acropolis of Athens, dedicated to the goddess Athena Nike. Built around 420 BC, the temple is the earliest fully Ionic temple on the Acropolis. It has a prominent position on a steep bastion at the south west corner of the Acropolis to the right of the entrance, the Propylaea. In contrast to the Acropolis proper, a walled sanctuary entered through the Propylaea, the Victory Sanctuary was open, entered from the Propylaea's southwest wing and from a narrow stair on the north. The sheer walls of its bastion were protected on the north, west, and south by the Nike Parapet, named for its frieze of Nikai celebrating victory and sacrificing to their patroness, Athena Nike.

Nike means "victory" in Greek, and Athena was worshipped in this form, representative of being victorious in war. The citizens worshipped the goddess in hopes of a successful outcome in the long Peloponnesian War fought against the Spartans and their allies.

Temple of Athena Nikè from Propylaea, Acropolis, Athens, Greece
The Temple of Athena Nike


Acropolis Athens BM 424
Scene of the Battle of Plataea, from the south frieze of the Temple of Athena Nike, British Museum.

In the sixth century BCE a cult of Athena Nike was established and a small temple was built using Mycenaean fortification and Cyclopean masonry. After the temple was demolished by the Persians in 480 BCE a new temple was built over the remains. The new temple construction was underway in 449 BCE and was finished around 420 BCE. If still in use by the 4th-century, the temple would have been closed during the persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire.

The temple sat untouched until it was demolished in 1686 by the Turks who used the stones to build defences. In 1834 the temple was reconstructed after the independence of Greece. In 1998 the temple was dismantled so that the crumbling concrete floor could be replaced and its frieze was removed and placed in the new Acropolis Museum that opened in 2009.[1] The Temple of Athena Nike is often closed to visitors as work continues. The new museum exhibit consists of fragments of the site before the Persians were thought to have destroyed it in 480 BCE. Sculptures from the friezes have been salvaged such as: deeds of Hercules, statue of Moscophoros, a damaged sculpture of a goddess credited to Praxiteles and the Rampin horseman, as well as epigraphic dedications, decrees, and stelae.[2]

Propylaea and Temple of Athena Nike at the Acropolis (Pierer)
Temple of Athena Nike is on the right from the Propylaea


Floor plan

The Temple of Athena Nike was finished around 420 BC,[3] during the Peace of Nicias. It is a tetrastyle (four column) Ionic structure with a colonnaded portico at both front and rear facades (amphiprostyle), designed by the architect Kallikrates. The columns along the east and west fronts were monolithic columns. The temple ran 8 metres (27 ft) long by 5.5 metres (18.5 ft) wide and 7 metres (23 ft) tall. The total height from the stylobate to the acme of the pediment while the temple remained intact was a modest 7 metres (23 ft). The ratio of height to diameter of the columns is 7:1, the slender proportions creating an elegance and refinement not encountered in the normal 9:1 or 10:1 of Ionic buildings. Constructed from white Pentelic marble, it was built in stages as war-starved funding allowed.

ACMA 973 Nikè sandale 1
A relief from the parapet around the temple which shows an ancient goddess fixing her sandal. It is housed at the Acropolis Museum

Cult statue and frieze

The famous frieze of Nike adjusting her sandal is an example of Wet drapery. Wet drapery involves showing the form of the body but also concealing the body with the drapery of the clothing. Some friezes are from the Persian and Peloponnesian wars. The friezes contained a cavalry scene from the battle of Marathon and a Greek victory over the Persians at the battle of Plataea. The battles represent Greek and Athenian dominance through military power and historical events.[4] A statue of Nike stood in the cella, or otherwise referred to as a naos. Nike was originally the "winged victory" goddess (see the winged Nike of Samothrace). The Athena Nike statue's absence of wings led Athenians in later centuries to call it Apteros Nike or wingless victory, and the story arose that the statue was deprived of wings so that it could never leave the city.

The friezes of the building's entablature were decorated on all sides with relief sculpture in the idealized classical style of the 5th century BC. The north frieze depicted a battle between Greeks entailing cavalry. The south frieze showed the decisive victory over the Persians at the battle of Plataea. The east frieze showed an assembly of the gods Athena, Zeus and Poseidon, rendering Athenian religious beliefs and reverence for the gods bound up in the social and political climate of 5th Century Athens.

Some time after the temple was completed, around 410 BC a parapet was added around it to prevent people from falling from the steep bastion. The outside of the parapet was adorned by carved relief sculptures showing Nike in a variety of activities and all in procession.[5]

Acropolis. Beulé Gate. Propylaea. Temple Nike
An 1893 photograph of the Acropolis showing the Beulé Gate, Propylaea and the Temple of Athena Nike

Architects Christian Hansen and Eduard Schaubert excavated the temple in the 1830s. The building had been totally dismantled in the 17th century and the stone built into the Turkish wall that surrounded the hill. A primitive anastylosis was carried out in 1836 when the temple was re-erected from remaining parts. A third restoration was completed in Summer 2010.[6] The main structure, stylobate and columns are largely intact, minus the roof and most of the tympanae. Fragments of the sculpted frieze are exhibited in the Acropolis Museum and the British Museum; copies of these are fixed in their place on the temple.

See also


  1. ^ N, James (December 2009). "The Acropolis and its new museum". Antiquity. 83 (322): 1144–1151.
  2. ^ Duamato, Lamia (1980). The temple of Athena Nike. Monticello,Ill.:Vance Bibliographies.
  3. ^ Hurwit, Jeffrey (2004). The Acropolis in the Age of Pericles. Cambridge University Press. p. 183. ISBN 0521527406.
  4. ^ Gorham, Stevens (1908). "The Cornice of the Temple of Athena Nike". American Journal of Archaeology. 12 (4): 398–405.
  5. ^ Rhodes, Robin (1995). Architecture and Meaning on the Athenian Acropolis. Cambridge University Press. p. 120. ISBN 0521469813.

External links

Coordinates: 37°58′17″N 23°43′30″E / 37.9715°N 23.7249°E



was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar, the 1687th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 687th year of the 2nd millennium, the 87th year of the 17th century, and the 8th year of the 1680s decade. As of the start of 1687, the Gregorian calendar was

10 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

410 BC

Year 410 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Mamercinus and Volusus (or, less frequently, year 344 Ab urbe condita). The denomination 410 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

425 BC

Year 425 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Tribunate of Atratinus, Medullinus, Cincinnatus and Barbatus (or, less frequently, year 329 Ab urbe condita). The denomination 425 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Acropolis of Athens

The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon. The word acropolis is from the Greek words ἄκρον (akron, "highest point, extremity") and πόλις (polis, "city"). Although the term acropolis is generic and there are many other acropoleis in Greece, the significance of the Acropolis of Athens is such that it is commonly known as "The Acropolis" without qualification. During ancient times it was known also more properly as Cecropia, after the legendary serpent-man, Cecrops, the supposed first Athenian king.

While there is evidence that the hill was inhabited as far back as the fourth millennium BC, it was Pericles (c. 495–429 BC) in the fifth century BC who coordinated the construction of the site's most important present remains including the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. The Parthenon and the other buildings were damaged seriously during the 1687 siege by the Venetians during the Morean War when gunpowder being stored in the Parthenon was hit by a cannonball and exploded.


In classical architecture, amphiprostyle (from the Greek ἀμφί (amphi), on both sides, and πρόστυλος (prostylos), a portico) denotes a temple with a portico both at the front and the rear. The number of columns rarely exceeded four in the front and four in the rear. The best-known example is the tetrastyle small Temple of Athena Nike at Athens. Other known examples are the Temple of Artemis Agrotera outside Athens, and the hexastyle Temple of the Athenians at Delos.Amphiprostyle temples without columns on the sides may be termed "apteral" (from the Greek απτερος, "wingless": α-, "without" + πτερον, "wing"). The Athena Nike temple is one such example.


Anastylosis (from the Ancient Greek: αναστήλωσις, -εως; ανα, ana = "again", and στηλόω = "to erect [a stela or building]") is an archaeological term for a reconstruction technique whereby a ruined building or monument is restored using the original architectural elements to the greatest degree possible. It is also sometimes used to refer to a similar technique for restoring broken pottery and other small objects.

Athenian festivals

The festival calendar of Classical Athens involved the staging of a large number of festivals each year.


Callicrates (; Greek: Καλλικράτης, Callicrátēs) was an ancient Greek architect active in the middle of the fifth century BC. He and Ictinus were architects of the Parthenon (Plutarch, Pericles, 13). An inscription identifies him as the architect of "the Temple of Nike" in the Sanctuary of Athena Nike on the Acropolis (IG I3 35). The temple in question is either the amphiprostyle Temple of Athena Nike now visible on the site or a small-scale predecessor (naiskos) whose remains were found in the later temple's foundations. An inscription identifies Callicrates as one of the architects of the Classical circuit wall of the Acropolis (IG I3 45), and Plutarch further states (loc. cit.) that he contracted to build the Middle of three amazing walls linking Athens and Piraeus.

Elgin Marbles

The Parthenon Marbles (Greek: Γλυπτά του Παρθενώνα) also known as the Elgin Marbles (), are a collection of Classical Greek marble sculptures made under the supervision of the architect and sculptor Phidias and his assistants. They were originally part of the temple of the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens.From 1801 to 1812, agents of Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin removed about half of the surviving sculptures of the Parthenon, as well as sculptures from the Propylaea and Erechtheum. The Marbles were transported by sea to Britain. Elgin later claimed to have obtained in 1801 an official decree (a firman) from the Sublime Porte, the central government of the Ottoman Empire which were then the rulers of Greece. This firman has not been found in the Ottoman archives despite its wealth of documents from the same period and its veracity is disputed. The half not removed by Elgin is now displayed in the Acropolis Museum, aligned in orientation and within sight of the Parthenon, with the position of the missing elements clearly marked and space left should they be returned to Athens.In Britain, the acquisition of the collection was supported by some, while some others, such as Lord Byron, likened the Earl's actions to vandalism or looting. Following a public debate in Parliament and its subsequent exoneration of Elgin, he sold the Marbles to the British government in 1816. They were then passed to the British Museum, where they are now on display in the purpose-built Duveen Gallery.

After gaining its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1832, the newly-founded Greek state began a series of projects to restore its monuments and retrieve looted art. It has expressed its disapproval of Elgin's removal of the Marbles from the Acropolis and the Parthenon, which is regarded as one of the world's greatest cultural monuments. International efforts to repatriate the Marbles to Greece were intensified in the 1980s by then Greek Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri, and there are now many organisations actively campaigning for the Marbles' return, several united as part of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures. The Greek government itself continues to urge the return of the marbles to Athens so as to be unified with the remaining marbles and for the complete Parthenon frieze sequence to be restored, through diplomatic, political and legal means.In 2014, UNESCO offered to mediate between Greece and the United Kingdom to resolve the dispute, although this was later turned down by the British Museum on the basis that UNESCO works with government bodies, not trustees of museums.

Flame palmette

The flame palmette is a motif in decorative art which, in its most characteristic expression, resembles the fan-shaped leaves of a palm tree. "Flame palmettes" are different from regular palmettes in that, traditionally palmettes tended to have sharply splaying leaves. From the 4th century BCE however, the end of the leaves tend to turn in, forming what is called the "flame palmette" design.


Masistius (Macistius to the Greeks) was a Persian cavalry commander best known for his role in the second Persian invasion of Greece.

Nike of Callimachus

The Nike of Callimachus (Greek: Nίκη του Καλλιμάχου) also known as The Dedication of Callimachus, is a statue that the Athenians created in honor of the Callimachus.

Old Acropolis Museum

The Old Acropolis Museum (Greek: (Παλαιό) Μουσείο Ακρόπολης (Palaio) Mouseio Akropolis) was an archaeological museum located in Athens, Greece on the archeological site of Acropolis. It is built in a niche at the eastern edge of the rock and most of it lies beneath the level of the hilltop, making it largely invisible. It was considered one of the major archaeological museums in Athens. Due to its limited size, the Greek government decided in the late 1980s to build a new museum. The New Acropolis Museum is now built at the foot of the Acropolis. In June 2007 the old museum closed its doors so that its antiquities could be moved to their new home, which opened on 20 June 2009.

Pedestal of Agrippa

The Pedestal, now known as the Agrippa Pedestal located west of the Propylaea of Athens and the same height as the Temple of Athena Nike to the south, was built in honor of Eumenes II of Pergamon in 178 BC to commemorate his victory in the Panathenaic Games chariot race. Its height is 8.9 meters. It was the base of a bronze quadriga, life-size, probably driven by Eumenes and/or his brother Attalus II. Towards 27 BC this chariot was replaced by another one, dedicated by the city of Athens to Marcus Agrippa, son-in-law of Augustus, in recognition of the reconstruction of the Odeon of Athens in front of the Agora of Athens; It disappeared on an unknown date.


A pinacotheca (Latin: pinacotheca borrowed from Greek: πινακοθήκη, πίναξ "(painted) board, tablet" + θήκη "box, chest") was a picture gallery in either ancient Greece or ancient Rome. The name is specifically used for the building containing pictures which formed the left wing of the Propylaea on the Acropolis at Athens, Greece. The Pinacotheca was located right by the temple of Athena Nike. Though Pausanias (Bk. I., xxii. 6) speaks of the pictures "which time had not effaced", which seems to point to fresco painting; the fact that there is no trace of preparation for stucco on the walls shows that the paintings were easel pictures (J. G. Frazer, Pausanias's Description of Greece, 1898, ii. 252). The Romans adopted the term for the room in a private house containing pictures, statues, and other works of art.

In the modern world the word is often used as a name for a public art gallery concentrating on paintings, mostly in Italy (as "Pinacoteca"), such as the Pinacoteca Vaticana of the Vatican Museums (which is usually meant when the plain word is used), the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan (more often "the Brera" informally), the Pinacoteca Giovanni and Marella Agnelli (it:Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli) built on the roof of the former Lingotto Fiat factory in Turin, Italy, with others in Bologna and Siena. In Brazil, there is the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo. In Paris, the Pinacothèque de Paris. In Munich the three main galleries are called the Alte Pinakothek (old masters), Neue Pinakothek (19th century) and Pinakothek der Moderne. At Hallbergmoos, near Munich Airport, there was the Pinakothek Hallbergmoos (20th and 21st century) between 2010 and 2014.


A propylaea, propylea or propylaia (; Greek: Προπύλαια) is any monumental gateway in ancient Greek architecture. The prototypical Greek example is the propylaea that serves as the entrance to the Acropolis in Athens. The Greek Revival Brandenburg Gate of Berlin and the Propylaea in Munich both evoke the central portion of the Athens propylaea.


Prostyle is an architectural term denoting a row of columns in front of a building, as in a portico. The term is often used as an adjective when referring to the portico of a classical building which projects from the main structure. First used in Etruscan and Greek temples, this motif was later incorporated by the Romans into their temples.

Examples of prostyle include the Temple of Athena Nike, Akropolis, Athens, a prostyle tetrastyle (i.e. with four columns). There are also prostyle hexastyle and prostyle octastyle temples.

This architectural element probably originated in the eastern Greek isles in the 8th century BCE, but there are also many examples in archaic temples in southern Italy.The subsequent evolution of temple design came with the amphiprostyle, where there are rows of columns both in front and at the back of the temple.


In classical architecture, a pseudoperipteros (a pseudoperipteral building) is one with engaged columns embedded in the outer walls – except the front – of the building. The form is found in Greek temples, especially in the Hellenistic period. In Roman temples, the pseudoperipteral form became usual, where there were columns behind the portico as well. Typically the front has a portico with free-standing columns, but columns on the other three sides of the walls are engaged.

If free-standing columns surrounding the entire building, it is a peripteros.

Unlike a peripteros, a pseudoperipteros has no space (peristasis) between the cella (naos, inner chamber) and the outer walls on the sides and rear, so the engaged columns can also be considered to be embedded directly on those walls of the cella.

The temple of Olympian Zeus at Agrigento was a famous Greek example of this style. Its facade also has engaged columns.

A pseudoperipteral building with a portico at each end is a amphiprostyle. Examples include the small Temple of Athena Nike and Temple of Venus and Roma.

Temple of Athena (disambiguation)

The best-known Temple of Athena is the Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis in Greece.

Temple of Athena may also refer to:

Old Temple of Athena, which preceded the Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis

Temple of Athena (Paestum), at Paestum, Italy

Temple of Athena (Syracuse), at Syracuse, Italy

Temple of Athena Alea, at Tegea, Greece

Temple of Athena Lindia on Rhodos, Greece

Temple of Athena Nike, also on the Athenian Acropolis

Existent structures
Former structures

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