Architecture

Architecture of Parthenon: Ancient Greek Survivor

Let us explore the architecture of Parthenon, one of the most iconic buildings of Ancient Greek Architecture. The Parthenon of Greece is a 2500 years old iconic temple. Built for the Greek goddess Athena, it sits beautifully over the hills of Acropolis at Athens. This jewel of Athens is the most important building of Classical Ancient Greek Architecture. It is predominantly famous for its decorative Greek sculptures, and its ‘Doric Orders’.

Parthenon-Sitting at the crown of Acropolis

Why was Parthenon of Greece Built?

The enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, the Parthenon of Greece is the new building of the Pre-Parthenon or the Older Parthenon. Over the centuries, the purpose of this structure kept on changing. Built to be a Greek temple, the Parthenon of Greece took the form of a Byzantine Church after some time. Thereafter, to a Roman Catholic Cathedral, and later to a mosque. Moreover, the temple even served as a store for Ottomans’ ammunitions during the war. The monument is now getting restored to its original form.

The current condition of the iconic Greek Temple

Architecture of Parthenon: Surviving Natural Calamities!

Since its construction, the Parthenon of Greece resisted earthquakes, wars, explosions, fire, and robbery. Still, it stands to be the focal point of Athens and Ancient Greek architecture. However, Parthenon Athens went through major damages during these disasters but stands strong.

Exploring the Architecture of Parthenon:

  • Parthenon of Greece is the largest Doric style temple; however, with an innovative touch of Ionic style.
  • The temple plan is rectangular in shape, built over a 23,000 square feet base. It measures 30.88 meters by 69.5 meters.
  • The inner cella, consisting of ‘Naos’ and ‘Sekos’ is 29.8 meters long and 19.2 meters wide.
  • There are steps leading to the temple, on all the four sides.
  • The beautiful architecture of Parthenon comprises on 46 outer columns and 23 inner columns, with 20 flutes in each column. The columns slightly lean inwards and are not straight, creating an optical illusion.
  • The roof of the structure showcases overlapping marble tiles.
  • The architecture of Parthenon follows a 4:9 ratio, mathematically known as the Golden Ratio. Moreover, the ratio of the height of the building to its width, and the diameter of columns to the spacing between them, all fall under the 4:9 ratio.
  • The building stands on the old foundation of the Pre-Parthenon, made of limestone.
The Sculptural “Doric Orders” supporting the structure

The Decorative Sculptures in the architecture of Parthenon:

The Parthenon of Greece is the first temple to be rich with many Greek sculptures. There are a variety of sculptures found in the temple mentioned below.

Metopes:

  • Metopes are carved square blocks, placed between three channeled triglyph blocks. These are 92 in numbers which increases the beauty of exterior walls. Placed on all four sides, depicting four different wars.
  • The metopes on the West side portray the mythical battle between the Amazons and the Ancient Greeks, Amazonomachy.
  • Those on the East side represent war between Gods and Giants, Gigantomachy.
  • Metopes placed in the South depict the clash of Centaurs with the Lapiths.
  • And finally, the metopes in the North direction depict the Trojan War.

Frieze:

Frieze is the most beautiful feature in the architecture of Parthenon. It is a broad band, rich with decorative elements, running along the entire length of walls in the inner chamber. The frieze was carved using the bas-relief technique (the figures of the sculptures raised slightly from the background).

Pediments:

Places at two ends of the Parthenon, pediments are sculpted triangular-shaped gables. These pediments showcase 50 sculpted round sculptures. Also, the east pediment depicts the birth of Athena and the west pediment portrays the conflict to claim Attica.

Athena Parthenos or the Statue of Athena:

The sculpture, now extinct, stood 12 meters high. Housed in the ‘naos’, the sculpture was carved out of wood and covered in ivory and gold.

The image of the statue is of a fully armed woman, wearing an aegis (goatskin shield), with Nike in her right hand and shield in her left. The statue depicted a scene from the battle of Amazonomachy. Also, a large snake resides behind the shield; and a sphinx, and two giraffes on her helmet.

A large water basin in front of the statue added humidity for the preservation of ivory and acted as a reflector of light coming through the doorway.

Moreover, the statue gives a clear message of the wealth and power of the ancient city, leaving all of us awestruck.

Revival of the one of the greatest Greek Symbols

The architecture of Parthenon is one of the finest examples of preserved ancient architecture. Also, the quality of the craftsmanship and the way sculptures portray the history of Greeks is outstanding. The temple is crowning the city with its richness to date.