Temple of Hephaestus

The Temple of Hephaestus or Hephaisteion (also "Hephesteum"; Ancient Greek: Ἡφαιστεῖον, Greek: Ναός Ηφαίστου) or earlier as the Theseion (also "Theseum"; Ancient Greek: Θησεῖον, Greek: Θησείο), is a well-preserved Greek temple; it remains standing largely as built. It is a Doric peripteral temple, and is located at the north-west side of the Agora of Athens, on top of the Agoraios Kolonos hill. From the 7th century until 1834, it served as the Greek Orthodox church of Saint George Akamates. The building's condition has been maintained due to its history of varied use.

Temple of Hephaestus/Theseion
Ναός Ηφαίστου/Θησείο
Hephaistos Temple
Temple of Hephaestus is located in Athens
Temple of Hephaestus
Location within Athens
General information
Town or cityAthens
Coordinates37°58′32.22″N 23°43′17.01″E / 37.9756167°N 23.7213917°E
Construction started449 BCE
Completed415 BCE

Name: Hephaestus

Temple of Hephaestus

Hephaestus was the patron god of metal working, craftsmanship, and fire. There were numerous potters' workshops and metal-working shops in the vicinity of the temple, as befits the temple's honoree. Archaeological evidence suggests that there was no earlier building on the site except for a small sanctuary that was burned when the Persians occupied Athens in 480 BC. The name Theseion or Temple of Theseus was attributed to the monument under the assumption it housed the remains of the Athenian hero Theseus, brought back to the city from the island of Skyros by Kimon in 475 BC, but refuted after inscriptions from within the temple associated it firmly with Hephaestus.


After the battle of Plataea, the Greeks swore never to rebuild their sanctuaries destroyed by the Persians during their invasion of Greece, but to leave them in ruins, as a perpetual reminder of the war. The Athenians directed their funds towards rebuilding their economy and strengthening their influence in the Delian League. When Pericles came to power, he envisioned a grand plan for transforming Athens into the centre of Greek power and culture. Construction started in 449 BCE, and some scholars believe the building not to have been completed for some three decades, funds and workers having been redirected towards the Parthenon. The western frieze was completed between 445–440 BC, while the eastern frieze, the western pediment and several changes in the building's interior are dated by these scholars to 435–430 BC, largely on stylistic grounds. It was only during the Peace of Nicias (421–415 BC) that the roof was completed and the cult images were installed. The temple was officially inaugurated in 416–415 BC.


Many architects have been suggested, but without firm evidence one refers simply to 'The Hephaisteion Master'. The temple is built of marble from the nearby Mt. Penteli, excepting the bottom step of the krepis or platform. The architectural sculpture is in both Pentelic and Parian marble. The dimensions of the temple are 13.708 m north to south and 31.776 m east to west, with six columns on the short east and west sides and thirteen columns along the longer north and south sides (with the four corner columns being counted twice).

Temple of Hephaestus (South), Athens - 20070711
Doric colonnade facing the Agora

The building has a pronaos, a cella housing cult images at the centre of the structure, and an opisthodomos. The alignment of the antae of the pronaos with the third flank columns of the peristyle is a design element unique middle of the 5th century BC. There is also an inner Doric colonnade with five columns on the north and south side and three across the end (with the corner columns counting twice).

The decorative sculptures highlight the extent of mixture of the two styles in the construction of the temple. Both the pronaos and the opisthodomos are decorated with continuous Ionic friezes (instead of the more typical Doric triglyphs, supplementing the sculptures at the pediments and the metopes. In the pediments, the Birth of Athena (east) and the Return of Hephaistos to Olympos (west), and, as akroteria, the Nereids Thetis and Eurynome (west) accompanied by Nikai, the two ensembles are dated to ca. 430 and ca. 420–413 B.C. respectively. The frieze of the pronaos depicts a scene from the battle of Theseus with the Pallantides in the presence of gods while the frieze of the opisthodomos shows the battle of Centaurs and Lapiths.[1]

Only 18 of the 68 metopes of the temple of Hephaestus were sculptured, concentrated especially on the east side of the temple; the rest were perhaps painted. The ten metopes on the east side depict the Labours of Heracles. The four easternmost metopes on the long north and south sides depict the Labours of Theseus.

According to Pausanias, the temple housed the bronze statues of Athena and Hephaestus. An inscription records payments between 421 BC and 415 BC for two bronze statues but it does not mention the sculptor. Tradition attributes the work to Alkamenes.

In the 3rd century BC trees and shrubs (pomegranates, myrtle and laurel) were planted around the temple, creating a small garden.

The sanctuary would have been closed during the persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire.


Temple of Hephaestus,Theseion
Temple of Hephaestus,Theseion

Around AD 700, the temple was turned into a Christian church, dedicated to Saint George. Exactly when the temple was converted to a Christian church remains unknown. There are assumptions however that this possibly occurred in the 7th century.

The characterization as "Akamates" – adding all kind of adjectives in the names of the churches or the saints is commonplace in Greek-orthodox tradition – has been given a lot of explanations. The first one states that it probably derives from the name of the son of Theseus and Feadra, Akamantas, later transformed to Akamatos and later still to Akamates. Another scenario is based on the very sense of akamates (= flaneur), because during the Ottoman Era, the temple was used only once a year, the day of the feast of St George. A third option is that the name is due to Archbishop of Athens Michael Akominatos, who might have been the first to perform a Divine Liturgy in the church.

The last Divine Liturgy in the temple took place on February 21, 1833, during the celebrations for the arrival of Otto in Greece. In the presence of the Athenians and of many others the bishop Talantiu Neofitos gave a speech.

19th century

When Athens became the official capital of Greece in 1834, the publication of the relevant royal edict was made in this temple that was the place of the last public turnout of the Athenians. It was used as a burial place for non-Orthodox Europeans in the 19th century, among whom were many philhellenes who gave their lives in the cause of Greek War of Independence (1821–1830). Among those buried in the site was John Tweddel, a friend of Lord Elgin, while excavations also revealed a slab from the grave of George Watson with a Latin epitaph by Lord Byron. In 1834, the first King of Greece, Otto I, was officially welcomed there. Otto ordered the building to be used as a museum, in which capacity it remained until 1934, when it reverted to its status of an ancient monument and extensive archaeological research was allowed.

Works modeled on, or inspired by, the Temple of Hephaestus

See also


  1. ^ Stewart, Andrew (October–December 2018). "Classical Sculpture from the Athenian Agora, Part 1: The Pediments and Akroteria of the Hephaisteion". Hesperia. The American School of Classical Studies at Athens. 87 (4): 681-741. doi:10.2972/hesperia.87.4.0681. JSTOR 10.2972.CS1 maint: Date format (link)
  2. ^ Simpson, Donald H. (1957). "Some public monuments of Valletta 1800–1955 (1)" (PDF). Melita Historica. 2 (2): 77. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2017.

Further reading

External links

Agoraios Kolonos

Agoraios Kolonos (; Ancient Greek: Κολωνός Ἀγοραῖος; Greek: Αγοραίος Κολωνός, meaning "the hill next to the Agora"), located to the south and adjacently situated on a hill near the Temple of Hephaestus, used to be the meeting place of the ancient Athenian craftsmen.

Amyntor (Macedonian)

Amyntor (Ancient Greek: Ἀμύντωρ Amýntor "defender") was the name of a 4th-century BC Macedonian aristocrat, possibly of Athenian descent. He was the father of Hephaestion Amyntoros, who was a close companion and lieutenant to Alexander the Great. The full history of Hephaestion's lineage is unknown. However, Jeanne Reames has suggested that he descended from Athenian expatriates to Macedon. The most popular piece of evidence pointing to such a connection is in name-tracing. "Hephaestion" is the name of the Temple of Hephaestus overlooking the Ancient Agora of Athens, near the Acropolis, a name which hardly appears at all in Macedon at this time period.

I think that the idea that Amyntor and his family were of Athenian descent should be attributed to Waldemar Heckel, "Hephaistion the Athenian". Z.P.E. 1991, 39-41. (Dr Keith G. Walker)

Ancient Agora of Athens

The Ancient Agora of Classical Athens is the best-known example of an ancient Greek agora, located to the northwest of the Acropolis and bounded on the south by the hill of the Areopagus and on the west by the hill known as the Agoraios Kolonos, also called Market Hill. The Agora's initial use was for a commercial, assembly, or residential gathering place.

Classical Athens

The city of Athens (Ancient Greek: Ἀθῆναι, Athênai [a.tʰɛ̂ː.nai̯]; Modern Greek: Αθήναι Athine [a.ˈθi.ne̞] or, more commonly and in singular, Αθήνα Athina [a.'θi.na]) during the classical period of Ancient Greece (480–323 BC) was the major urban center of the notable polis (city-state) of the same name, located in Attica, Greece, leading the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and the Peloponnesian League. Athenian democracy was established in 508 BC under Cleisthenes following the tyranny of Isagoras. This system remained remarkably stable, and with a few brief interruptions remained in place for 180 years, until 322 BC (aftermath of Lamian War). The peak of Athenian hegemony was achieved in the 440s to 430s BC, known as the Age of Pericles.

In the classical period, Athens was a center for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Akademia and Aristotle's Lyceum, Athens was also the birthplace of Socrates, Plato, Pericles, Aristophanes, Sophocles, and many other prominent philosophers, writers and politicians of the ancient world. It is widely referred to as the cradle of Western Civilization, and the birthplace of democracy, largely due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC on the rest of the then-known European continent.


Colonus may refer to:

Colonus (person), a tenant farmer from the late Roman Empire and Early Middle Ages

Colonus (spider), a genus of jumping spiders

Kolonos, a modern neighborhood in Athens

Hippeios Colonus, an ancient deme near Athens

Agoraios Kolonos, a hill near the Temple of Hephaestus

Kolonos Hill, a hill in Central Greece

Doric order

The Doric order was one of the three orders of ancient Greek and later Roman architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian. The Doric is most easily recognized by the simple circular capitals at the top of columns. Originating in the western Dorian region of Greece, it is the earliest and in its essence the simplest of the orders, though still with complex details in the entablature above.

The Greek Doric column was fluted or smooth-surfaced, and had no base, dropping straight into the stylobate or platform on which the temple or other building stood. The capital was a simple circular form, with some mouldings, under a square cushion that is very wide in early versions, but later more restrained. Above a plain architrave, the complexity comes in the frieze, where the two features originally unique to the Doric, the triglyph and guttae, are skeuomorphic memories of the beams and retaining pegs of the wooden constructions that preceded stone Doric temples. In stone they are purely ornamental.

The relatively uncommon Roman and Renaissance Doric retained these, and often introduced thin layers of moulding or further ornament, as well as often using plain columns. More often they used versions of the Tuscan order, elaborated for nationalistic reasons by Italian Renaissance writers, which is in effect a simplified Doric, with un-fluted columns and a simpler entablature with no triglyphs or guttae. The Doric order was much used in Greek Revival architecture from the 18th century onwards; often earlier Greek versions were used, with wider columns and no bases to them.

Since at least Vitruvius it has been customary for writers to associate the Doric with masculine virtues (the Ionic representing the feminine). It is also normally the cheapest of the orders to use. When the three orders are used one above the other, it is usual for the Doric to be at the bottom, with the Ionic and then the Corinthian above, and the Doric, as "strongest", is often used on the ground floor below another order in the storey above.


In architecture the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic or Doric order, or decorated with bas-reliefs. Even when neither columns nor pilasters are expressed, on an astylar wall it lies upon the architrave ('main beam') and is capped by the moldings of the cornice. A frieze can be found on many Greek and Roman buildings, the Parthenon Frieze being the most famous, and perhaps the most elaborate. This style is typical for the Persians.

In interiors, the frieze of a room is the section of wall above the picture rail and under the crown moldings or cornice. By extension, a frieze is a long stretch of painted, sculpted or even calligraphic decoration in such a position, normally above eye-level. Frieze decorations may depict scenes in a sequence of discrete panels. The material of which the frieze is made of may be plasterwork, carved wood or other decorative medium.In an example of an architectural frieze on the façade of a building, the octagonal Tower of the Winds in the Roman agora at Athens bears relief sculptures of the eight winds on its frieze.

A pulvinated frieze (or pulvino) is convex in section. Such friezes were features of 17th-century Northern Mannerism, especially in subsidiary friezes, and much employed in interior architecture and in furniture.

The concept of a frieze has been generalized in the mathematical construction of frieze patterns.

Greek gardens

A distinction is made between Greek gardens, made in ancient Greece, and Hellenistic gardens, made under the influence of Greek culture in late classical times. Little is known about either.

McKim's School

McKim's School, also known as McKim's Free School, is a historic school located at Baltimore, Maryland, United States. It is an archaeologically accurate Greek-style building. The front façade is designed after the Temple of Hephaestus, or Temple of Theseus, in Athens, Greece in granite. Six freestone Doric columns, 17 feet (5 meters) tall, support the entablature and pediment. The sides were derived from the north wing of the Propylaia on the Acropolis of Athens. The building site was funded by Quaker merchant Jon McKim who funded a trust for poor students managed by his son Isaac after his death in 1819. It was designed by Baltimore architects William Howard and William Small and erected in 1833. It served as a school and youth training center until 1945, when the building was adapted for use as the McKim Community Center. In 1972 the building was sold by trustees to the city.McKim's School was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.It is included in the Baltimore Heritage Walk.

Montgomery County Courthouse (Ohio)

The Montgomery County Courthouse (MCC), built in 1847, is a historic Greek Revival building located on the northwest corner of Third and Main streets in Dayton, Ohio. It is referred to locally as the Old Courthouse. The limestone building, modeled on the 5th century BC Temple of Hephaestus in Athens, Greece, is the nation's best surviving example of a Greek Revival style courthouse.The design was suggested by Dayton citizen Horace Pease, who had a book of sketches of the Acropolis in Athens which showed the Temple of Theseus, which he admired. Pease showed it to the Montgomery County Commissioners, who also were favorably impressed, and agreed it would be a good model for their new Courthouse. They hired architect Howard Daniels of New York to draw the plans in which he captured the form and beauty of the ancient Greek temple.The building, now restored, stands as a tribute to the leaders of old Dayton and to the artisans of the Miami Valley who built it. The Dayton Historical Society, which became The Montgomery County Historical Society, then Dayton History, is housed in the Old Court House.

The Courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 26, 1970.


The village of Penshaw locally , formerly known as Painshaw or Pensher, is an area of the metropolitan district of the City of Sunderland, in Tyne and Wear, England. Historically in County Durham, it derives its name from the Cumbric pen, meaning 'hill' or 'summit' and *cerr/*carr - 'stone, hard surface'. The original form of the name was Pencher.

Penshaw is well-known locally for Penshaw Monument, a prominent landmark built in 1844 atop Penshaw Hill, which is a half-scale replica of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens. Owing to its proximity to Durham City, the area was allocated a Durham postcode, DH4, which forms part of the Houghton-le-Spring post town. It lies about three miles north of Houghton-le-Spring, just over the River Wear from Washington. It borders Herrington Country Park and is surrounded by a series of villages: Herrington, Shiney Row, Biddick, Coxgreen and Offerton.

Leisure facilities include the easily accessible Herrington Country Park, which contains a play area, amphitheatre, skateboard park, lake with extensive wildlife and a memorial site to Herrington Colliery which once mined the site for coal. The site hosts public events such as the county show which includes dog shows, face painting and bouncy castles. There are three public houses, The Prospect (original name recently restored), The Monument (formerly The Ship) and The Grey Horse. Though no working men's club remains, a Catholic club is situated on Station Rd. takeaway outlets include the Peach Garden, Mandarin Palace, Oriental House [citation needed] and an Indian restaurant and takeaway, the Penshaw Tandoori. Community facilities include Penshaw Community Centre and All Saints' Church Hall; both organise regular spring and summer events. In the village, at the foot of Penshaw Hill, is Penshaw Riding School. At the centre of Barnwell is an extensive playing field and young person's play area. Penshaw also has three primary schools within walking distance of one other: Barnwell , New Penshaw and Our Lady Queen of Peace Roman Catholic.

There are two annual events for children, an easter egg rolling competition on Penshaw Hill and a scarecrow hunt [1] organised by the village community.

An annual cross-country event takes place in June each year when Sunderland Harriers stage the Penshaw Hill Race with a presentation to the winner and runners up in The Monument public house after the race.

There are extensive views from the top of Penshaw Hill on a clear day: Durham Cathedral to the South West, the coast of Roker and Seaburn to the East and the Cheviot Hills to the North.

The Hill, as it is known locally, also overlooks Wearside Golf Club, a long-established golf club originating in 1892 and Sunderland AFC's Stadium of Light can also be seen clearly from here.

Phantasia (poet)

Phantasia is the name of an ancient Egyptian woman who was said to have been the author of the immediate sources of the two ancient Greek epics, Iliad and Odyssey, attributed to Homer.

According to a fiction retold by the Byzantine scholar Eustathius of Thessalonica and attributed by him to "a certain Naucrates", Phantasia, daughter of Nicarchus of Memphis, an inspired poet, wrote poems about the war in the plains of Troy and the wanderings of Odysseus, and deposited these books in the temple of Hephaestus at Memphis. Homer afterwards visited the shrine, persuaded the priests to make copies of the books for him, and afterwards wrote the Iliad and Odyssey. "Some say" [Eustathius adds] "that Homer himself was Egyptian; others, that he visited the country and was taught by Egyptians."

The story is one of the least known of the biographical fictions about Homer; it is mentioned neither by Samuel Butler nor by Andrew Dalby, both of whom have developed the argument that a woman poet was responsible for the Odyssey.

Note: An earlier author, Photius of Constantinople, attributes this to Ptolemy Chennus (a Greek mythographer active 1st to 2nd century AD?).

Phantasia, a woman of Memphis, daughter of Nicarchus, composed before Homer a tale of the Trojan War and of the adventures of Odysseus. The books were deposited, it is said, at Memphis; Homer went there and obtained copies from Phanites, the temple scribe, and he composed under their inspiration.


Cape Sounion (Modern Greek: Aκρωτήριο Σούνιο Akrotírio Soúnio [akroˈtirʝo ˈsuɲo]; Ancient Greek: Ἄκρον Σούνιον Άkron Soúnion, latinized Sunium; Venetian: Capo Colonne "Cape of Columns") is the promontory at the southernmost tip of the Attic peninsula, 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) south of the town of Lavrio (ancient Thoricus), and 70 kilometres (43 mi) southeast of Athens.

It is part of Lavreotiki municipality, East Attica, Greece.

Cape Sounion is noted for its Temple of Poseidon, one of the major monuments of the Golden Age of Athens. Its remains are perched on the headland, surrounded on three sides by the sea.

Temple of Ares

The Temple of Ares was a sanctuary dedicated to Ares, located in the northern part of the Ancient Agora of Athens. The Temple was identified as such by Pausanias but the ruins present today indicate a complex history. Ares had a temple somewhat like Athena's.

The foundations are of early Greece construction and date, but fragments of the superstructure, now located at the western end of the temple, can be dated to the 5th century BC. From the fragments archaeologists are confident that they belonged to a Doric peripteral temple of a similar size, plan and date to the Temple of Hephaestus. Marks on the remaining stones indicate that the temple may have originally stood elsewhere and was dismantled, moved and reconstructed on the Roman base - a practice common during the Roman occupation of Greece. The temple probably came from the sanctuary of Athena Pallenis at modern Stavro, where foundations have been found but no temple remains are present.

Pausanias described the sanctuary in the 1st century:

[At Athens] is a sanctuary of Ares, where are placed two images of Aphrodite, one of Ares made by Alkamenes, and one of Athena made by a Parian of the name of Lokros. There is also an image of Enyo, made by the sons of Praxiteles. About the temple stand images of Herakles, Theseus, Apollo binding his hair with a fillet, and statues of Kalades, who it is said framed laws for the Athenians, and of Pindaros, the statue being one of the rewards the Athenians gave him for praising them in an ode.

However, as the Roman Empire had adopted Christianity as the official religion of the empire, in the late third and early fourth centuries, probably under the

Persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire by Emperor Theodosius I, the temple of Ares was destroyed and looted.

Temple of Poseidon at Sounion

The Ancient Greek temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, built during 444–440 BC, is one of the major monuments of the Golden Age of Athens. It is perched above the sea at a height of almost 60 metres (200 ft).


Thiseio or Thissio (Greek: Θησείο, pronounced [θiˈsio]) is the name of a traditional neighbourhood in downtown Athens, Greece, northwest of the Acropolis, 1.5 km southwest of downtown. Long ago, the name was derived from the Temple of Hephaestus which was mistakenly known as Thiseion in reference to Theseus, the mythical king of Athens, which gave rise to the neighbourhood being named Thiseio.

The area has many cafés and cultural meeting points. Thiseio is served by the nearby Thissio ISAP station or Thiseio metro station.

Thiseio metro station

Thiseio (Greek: Σταθμός Θησείου Stathmos Thiseiou) is an Athens Metro Line 1 station, located in Thiseio at 8.603 km (5.346 mi) from Piraeus. It is located in Athens and took its name from the nearby Temple of Hephaestus which is famous as Thiseio. The station was first opened on February 27, 1869 and was renovated in 2004. It has two platforms.

Thiseio station is the first railway station in the city of Athens, other than the Thiseio–Piraeus of today's line 1 of ISAP and the first railway line other than the range of the Greek government. The station was the furthermost on May 17, 1895 at the time the line ended to Omonoia. Today, its hours routed between Thiseio and Ano Patisia.

Valle dei Templi

The Valle dei Templi (Italian pronunciation: [ˈvalle dei ˈtɛmpli]; English: Valley of the Temples; Sicilian: Vaddi di li Tempri) is an archaeological site in Agrigento (ancient Greek Akragas), Sicily. It is one of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece art and architecture, and is one of the main attractions of Sicily as well as a national monument of Italy. The area was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1997. Much of the excavation and restoration of the temples was due to the efforts of archaeologist Domenico Antonio Lo Faso Pietrasanta (1783–1863), who was the Duke of Serradifalco from 1809 through 1812. The Archaeological and Landscape Park of the Valley of the Temples is the largest archaeological site in the world with 1,300 hectares.The term "valley" is a misnomer, the site being located on a ridge outside the town of Agrigento.

Wychbury Hill

Wychbury Hill is a hill situated off the A456 Birmingham Road, at Hagley, Stourbridge, on the border of West Midlands and Worcestershire.

It is divided between the parish of Hagley and former parish of Pedmore. It is one of the Clent Hills. The hill offers good views across the Severn Valley as far as the Malvern Hills and Clee Hills. It is the site of Wychbury Ring - an Iron Age hill fort - and the Wychbury Obelisk

, and is much beloved of pagans, with the site containing a 28-tree ancient yew grove, and not because the name sounds like "witch". The name is actually unrelated, being derived from that of the Saxon subkingdom of the Hwicce.

On the flank of the hill is a folly in the shape of a Greek Doric temple, in fact a miniature replica of the end of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens. Built in 1758, it was England's first example of Neoclassical architecture. The temple is currently in a seriously dilapidated and vandalised condition. It is a listed building on private land and permanently fenced off to the public.

In 1999 the obelisk was defaced with graffiti referring to the unsolved post World War II mystery: Who put Bella in the Wych Elm? when the decomposed body of a woman was found in a nearby wood. The graffiti was removed during the restoration of the obelisk which was completed in 2010.

Major landmarks of Athens

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.