Sunday, May 04, 2008
Parthenon, Doric temple atop the acropolis of Athens
It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered to be the culmination of the development of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered one of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of ancient Greece and of Athenian democracy, and is one of the world's greatest cultural monuments.
The two pediments of the temple are decorated with mythological scenes: the east, above the building's main entrance, shows the birth of Athena, and the west, the fight between Athena and Poseidon for the name of the city of Athens. The Parthenon retained its religious character in the following centuries and was converted into a Byzantine church, a Latin church and a Muslim mosque.
The Turks used the Parthenon as a powder magazine when the Venetians, under Admiral Morosini, sieged the Acropolis in 1687. One of the Venetian bombs fell on the Parthenon and caused a tremendous explosion that destroyed a great part of the monument which had been preserved in a good condition until then.
The disaster was completed in the beginning of the 19th century, when the British ambassador in Constantinople, Lord Elgin, stole the greatest part of the sculptural decoration of the monument (frieze, metopes, pediments), transferred them to England and sold them to the British Museum, where they are still exhibited, being one of the most significant collections of the museum.