Erechtheion, Athens

Erechtheion, Athens (must see)

Constructed between 421 and 406 BC, the Erechtheion was dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon, two powerful deities of the Greek pantheon. According to myth, they competed to provide the city with a valuable gift. Poseidon, the sea god, struck the ground with his trident, creating a saltwater spring, while the wise Athena planted an olive tree that sprouted. Her gift was deemed more beneficial, and she became the city's patron goddess, although it is said that the temple stands on the very spot where Poseidon left his trident marks.

A sacred sanctuary and a focal point for religious rituals in classical Athens, the unique monument is renowned for its graceful and highly adorned Ionic architecture. The spacious rectangular cella within comprised three chambers. One of these held the sacred olivewood statue of Athena, while the other two were dedicated to Poseidon, symbolizing their reconciliation after the legendary conflict.

The cella was encircled by porticoes on the north, east, and south sides, with the south one famously known as the Porch of the Caryatids, featuring six imposing female figures seemingly supporting the porch roof on their heads — a distinctive feature unmatched by any other temple. These maidens, however, are replicas, as the original sculptures are now housed in the Acropolis Museum to protect them from further deterioration in Athens' harsh climate.

Over the years, the Erechtheion complex has served various purposes, including functioning as a harem for the wives of the Ottoman commander in 1463. It suffered extensive damage when a Turkish shell struck it during the War of Independence in 1827. Today, it stands as a UNESCO World Heritage site, a testament to both the architectural and mythological richness of ancient Athens.

Tip:
Consider taking a guided tour to gain a comprehensive understanding of the site's history and significance. If you opt to explore independently, plan to visit in the morning and be sure to carry water, as refreshments are not available inside.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Athens. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Erechtheion on Map

Sight Name: Erechtheion
Sight Location: Athens, Greece (See walking tours in Athens)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Athens, Greece

Create Your Own Walk in Athens

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Athens Introduction Walking Tour

Athens Introduction Walking Tour

Athens is one of the oldest European cities, widely regarded as the birthplace of Western Civilization. Its history begins in the Neolithic period between 4th and 3rd millennium BC. The first settlement on the site of Athens was situated on the rock of Acropolis which means “high city” in Greek.

According to the Greek mythology, the name “Athens” emerged from a competition between the...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.2 Km or 2.6 Miles
Plaka Attractions Walking Tour

Plaka Attractions Walking Tour

In the shadow of the Acropolis stands Plaka, the most picturesque and oldest district of Athens, with continuous habitation from antiquity until today. The “neighborhood of the Gods”, as it is called, is like a romantic, atmospheric trip to old Athens adorned with antiquities, historic 19th-century buildings, museums and Byzantine churches.

From the vibrant Syntagma Square walking down...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Athens Food Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Walking Tour Around the Legendary Acropolis

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Also called "the sacred rock", the Acropolis was home to temples and sanctuaries throughout recorded history, and is a symbol of the city of Athens. Its religious importance was paramount to the ancient Greeks, and the buildings on the summit still capture the essence of their classical architecture. You can see the temples from most parts of the city, which adds to the feeling that this...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles
Walking Around the National Garden

Walking Around the National Garden

The National Garden is an impressive, historic park in the center of Athens, complete with artificial streams and duck ponds. Formerly known as the Royal Garden, it was commissioned by King Otto’s queen, Amalia, in 1838, reason why it is located directly behind the Old Palace (currently the Greek Parliament building). Not only is it a welcome refuge from the swirl of traffic just outside the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles

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