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Page history last edited by Elliott Yancy 15 years, 6 months ago


Elliott Yancy

 Caroline Johnson

 Alex Ortiz


The Propylaia



This page contains information about the Propylaia, the gateway into the Athenian Acropolis found in Greece.    

     A monumental entryway into the Athenian Acropolis, the Propylaia was a popular citadel and sanctuary in earlier times. It began as a ceremonial site beginning in the Neolithic Period and was walled before the sixth century B.C. by the Pelasgians. Mnesikles was chosen to build the Propylaia, even though he never got the chance to complete it, because of the start of the Peloponnesian war between Athens and Spartans. Mnesikles was supplied with a lot of money to build it, and he set off to do so in 437 BC. (Connolly p. 64)

     Devoted to religious aspects rather than defensive purposes, the area was adorned during the time of Cimon and Pericles with some of the world’s greatest architectural and sculptural monuments. (Hopper) The Propylaia was made of pentelic marble and had a combination of Doric and Ionic elements. It had Doric columns on the outside, and ionic ones on the inside. It was thought “unseemly” to place the two different types of columns on one Facade. The two main columns on the outside have a big space between them so that the chariots and animals could enter through a massive ramp attached to it. On both sides of the central ramp there are stairways for pedestrians to use, preventing traffic. It also contained the conventional Greek illusion of symmetry, by building it on different levels and having darker shades of stone.

     The Propylaia was built on the west, because that was the only accessible side from the plateau where the Acropolis sits. The northwest side of the Propylaia was the only side that was ever fully finished. It was used as a pinakotheke (picture gallery) during Roman times where paintings on wooden panels from some of the major artists of that time were displayed. They do not know if this is the original purpose that Mnesikles designed the northwest wing to be or not, however it is the first structure built for the purpose of displaying works of art. And it is the “forerunner of our modern museums” (Gardener’s Art pg 154) On the porch, located at the end of one of the stairways, stood a bronze statue of Athena. The statue was huge and could be seen from sea. The porch “had the first close-up view of the Parthenon” (Connolly p. 64)

     The name proylaia, or propylaea, is also applied to various monumental gateways, Neoclassical and Romantic style, built in the late 18th and 19th centuries, including the Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate (1784). (Propylaea).

   Although the Acropolis was laid waste by the Persians in 480 B.C and was later further damaged by the Turks and others, remains of the Parthenon, Erechtheum, and Propylaea still stand. Many of its treasures lie in the national museum of Greece, in Athens. Over the years, the Acropolis has suffered from pollution and the badly executed attempts at repair. In 1975 the Greek government began a major restoration project, which by the mid 1990’s was only about 40% complete. (Hopper)


[Akropolis of Athens (Greece) from the German 1891 encyclopedia Joseph Kürschner (editor): “Pierers Konversationslexikon”. Pierers Konversationslexikon. Siebente Auflage. Mit Universal-Sprachen-Lexikon nach Prof. Joseph Kürschners System. Union. (published by) Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft in Stuttgart, 1891. herausgegeben von (edited by) Joseph Kürschner]  






“Athens.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 4 Dec. 2008.  4 Dec. 2008 <http://school.eb.com//>. 

Connolly, Peter, and Hazel Dodge. The Ancient City Life in Classical Athens & Rome. N.p.: n.p., 1998. 

Hopper, R J. “The Athenian Acropolis, Greece.” Sacred Places. 1971.  5 Dec. 2008 http://witcombe.sbc.edu//.html.

Hopper, R J, and J M Hurwit. “The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.” Bartle by. 2007.  5 Dec. 2008 http://www.bartleby.com/‌//.html.

Oxford Art Online, and J R Carpenter. “The Propylon in Greek and Hellenistic Architecture .” Oxford Art Online. Oxford Art Online.  5 Dec. 2008 http://www.oxfordartonline.com///‌grove//?q=propylon&search=quick&pos=1&_start=1#firsthit.

“Propylaeum.” Encyclopedia Britannica . 5 Dec. 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online School Edition.  5 Dec. 2008 http://school.eb.com///?query=Athenian%20Acropolis&ct=null.

Stokstad, Marilyn. Art a Brief History. New Jersey: Pearson Education, 2007.

Tansey, Richard G, and Fred S Kleiner. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages. Fort Worth: Ted Bucholz, 1948.

Veniere, Ioanna. “Acropolis of Athens.” Odyssey. 2007. Helenic Culture Orgnization.  5 Dec. 2008 http://odysseus.culture.gr//.‌/.jsp?obj_id=2384 


Comments (2)

Cris Salazar said

at 11:16 am on Dec 4, 2008


Alex said

at 2:04 pm on Dec 17, 2008

I feel good :)

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