ARCHITECTURE OF PARTHENON: THE EPITOME OF GREEK ARCHITECTURE
The Parthenon, a 2500 years old iconic temple overpowering the hills of Acropolis at Athens in Rome was built for the Greek goddess Athena. 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 Order Columns’.
Why was Parthenon Built?
The enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, the Parthenon Rome is the new building of the Pre-Parthenon or the Older Parthenon. Over the centuries, the purpose of this structure kept on changing. It was transformed from a temple to a Byzantine Church. Thereafter, to a Roman Catholic Cathedral, and later to a mosque. Moreover, the temple even served as a store for Ottomans’ ammunition during the war. It is now being restored for its role as a tourist destination.
Survivor of Natural Calamities:
Since its construction, the temple resisted earthquakes, wars, explosions, fire, and robbery. Still, it stands to be the focal point of Athens and Greek architecture. However, Parthenon Athens went through major damages during these disasters which are now being restored.
Architecture of Parthenon:
- Parthenon Rome, is the largest Doric style temple; however, with an innovative touch of Ionic style.
- The temple plan is rectangular in shape and is built over 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.
- Also, there are steps leading to the temple on all four sides.
- The structure of Parthenon rests 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 is covered with 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 up of limestone.
The Decorative Sculptures:
The Parthenon Athens, is the first temple to be rich with many Greek sculptures. There are varieties of sculptures found in the temple as mentioned below.
- 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, they depict four different wars.
- The metopes on the West side portray the mythical battle between the Amazons and the Ancient Greeks, Amazonomachy.
- While 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 show the Trojan War.
The most beautiful feature used in the decoration of the architecture of Parthenon. Frieze, a broad band, rich with decorative elements runs 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 are the sculpted triangular shaped gables at two end of the Parthenon. These pediments are filled with 50 sculpted round sculptures. Also, the east pediment depicts the birth of Athena and the west pediment portrays the conflict to claim Attica.
Athena Partheons 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 a fully armed woman wearing an aegis (goatskin shield). With Nike in her right hand and shield in her left, the statue depicted the scenes 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 wealth and power of the city leaving all of us awestruck.
The Parthenon is one of the finest examples of preserved ancient architecture. Also, the quality of the craftsmanship and how the sculptures portray the history of Greeks are outstanding. The temple is crowning the city with its richness till date.