Stoa of Attalos and Ancient Agora Museum, Athens

Stoa of Attalos and Ancient Agora Museum, Athens

Widely present in many ancient Greek cities, "stoa" is a type of architectural structure that played an important role in social, commercial, and administrative urban life, acting as central hubs of daily activities. These structures, open at the front with a impressive columned façades, offered a sheltered yet open area for the functions of civil officials, merchants, and various individuals. Moreover, they doubled as exhibition spaces for art and public monuments, were used for religious observances, and contributed to the delineation of public areas.

Originally commissioned by and named after King Attalos II of Pergamon (in present-day Turkey), who offered it as a gift to Athens during his reign, this Stoa is an impressive covered walkway constructed during the 2nd century BC and fully rebuilt in the 1950s. In terms of complexity and size, it surpassed earlier buildings in ancient Athens, measuring 115 meters (377 feet) in length and 20 meters (65 feet) in width.

While it may lack its original bright red and blue paint, the reconstruction remains undeniably spectacular in every other aspect. Made of Pentelic marble and limestone, it incorporates different architectural orders, employing the Doric order for the exterior colonnade on the ground floor and the Ionic order for the interior colonnade.

Within this monumental structure, the small Ancient Agora Museum occupies ten of the 21 shops that comprised the Stoa's lower level, showcasing artifacts discovered at the Agora site, spanning from the earliest Neolithic occupation to the Roman and Byzantine periods.

While many of the early artifacts are sourced from burials, the museum's highlights predominantly belong to the Classical era, including notable red-figure pottery and a bronze Spartan shield. Keep an eye out for the 'ostraka', fragments of pottery inscribed with names. During annual assemblies of citizens, these shards would be submitted, and the individual with the most votes would face banishment or "ostracism" from the city for ten years.

On the upper level, the balcony area hosts an intriguing exhibition on the Agora site's excavations and the Stoa's reconstruction, presenting various models, plans, and photos of buildings, with the models particularly aiding in comprehending the broader Agora site.

Why You Should Visit:
Provides essential background information about the Agora and offers a genuine sense of the scale and grandeur of ancient public buildings. Somewhat reminiscent of a modern shopping mall, but far more aesthetically pleasing!

Tips:
Entry to the museum is included in the Agora ticket, with no separate fee required. While there, don't miss the sweeping view of the grounds from the upper level!

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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Stoa of Attalos and Ancient Agora Museum on Map

Sight Name: Stoa of Attalos and Ancient Agora Museum
Sight Location: Athens, Greece (See walking tours in Athens)
Sight Type: Museum/Gallery
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Athens, Greece

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles

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