Temple of Athena Nike

By. Megan Houston, Callie McConnico, and Daniel de la Garza 

 The Temple of Nike Athena



     The Temple of Nike Athena is a small, but important part of Athenian worship. This building rests on the south west of the Acropolis plateau, to the right of the Propylaia, and is a tribute to Nike the goddess of victory and Athena the cities patron goddess.  


  The architecture:

       Built in 427 B.C. by Callicrates, it was the first temple built on the Acropolis built in the Ionic style. There are four columns surrounding the two porches of the building. The cella (the inner chamber) has undecorated walls but there are many reliefs spread throughout the structure. The site on which this temple was built is also said to be the rock from which Aegeus jumped when he saw his son returning from Crete with black sails. His son was supposed to change the sails if he successfully killed the minotaur and he forgot to. This temple is in a sacred area of the city and was and is an important part of the Athenian Acropolis.  


 How it was built:

     The Temple of Athena Nike, around the Mediterranean, was designed by architects of the Parthenon, Callicrates and built in 427 BC.  This temple was made of cut stone and bearing masonry, and planned to be 12 feet and 10 fingers by 14 feet.  The columns of this temple are 13 feet and 54 fingers tall, but the all the designs that are above the columns make up the rest of the 14 feet.  The temple's small scale and elongated shape, sits beside the gateway to the Acropolis, at each projecting porch there are four columns. 







Athens, Temple of Athena, c. 427-424 BC; photo credit: Erich Lessing/ Art Resource, NY 


  The Beginning and Excavation of the Temple:

        This Temple was begun in 427 B.C., but there is evidence that is was planned before that. It was planned before the Parthenon but, it was finished after the Parthenon indicating its relative importance. This temple used for religious ceremonies in Classical times, has been destroyed twice. The first time was by the Turks in 1686 and the second time the platform crumbled in 1936. It was rebuilt after both incidents. Important works of art that were housed in the temple have been since removed for their safety.


  The Art:

     The Temple housed many important works of art including the famed statue of Athena, and the beautiful friezes. The statue of Athena showed the goddess standing and holding a pomegranate, the symbol of fertility, in her right hand, and a helmet, the symbol of war, in her left hand. This statue was made out of wood and it had no wings "so it could never leave the city of Athens"(ancient-greece.org). Since most statues of Nike in the time it was made had wings the temple acquired the name Apteros Nike (wing-less victory). This statue was supposedly destroyed by the Persians. The temple also contained fabulous friezes as was customary in Attica. Out of the four friezes that ran along all the sides of the building only one survived the east side frieze. This one shows Athena and Zeus and all the gods surrounding them. The picture to the left shows the east side of the temple and the frieze. On the parapet surrounding the temple, which acted as a barrier so people did not fall off the bastion, many reliefs were carved. These reliefs displayed Nike doing various activities. Among these is the famous relief showing Nike adjusting her sandal.











Ionic order frieze, east facade of the Temple of Athena Nike, the Acropolis, Athens, designed by Callicrates, 5th century BC



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