The sacred rock of the Acropolis
From wherever you catch sight of it in Athens, the Acropolis steals every bit of your attention. And with good reason for, just as it did 2,500 years ago, it continues to bear witness to an ever-changing city that carries the name of its most famous temple.
A natural hilltop fortress for the first inhabitants, a place for worshipping the ancient gods, the centrepiece of the glorious reconstruction project of Pericles in the 5th century BC as Athens enjoyed its Golden Period… the Acropolis has seen it all. Civilisations and conquerors have come and gone (some adding to, some destroying the monuments of the Sacred Rock) and it’s still there.
It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and is an enduring symbol of the spirit, enterprise and culture that Greek antiquity gave to the world.
To explore it is to discover a masterpiece of ancient architecture and artistry. What we admire today – together with the artefacts housed in the Acropolis Museum – is the work of the greatest craftsmen and engineers: The Parthenon (certainly the most recognised Greek structure worldwide) dedicated to the goddess Athena, the Erechtheion with its majestic female Caryatids holding up the porch, the Temple of Athena Nike… astonishingly feats of ambition.
It’s impossible to fully appreciate the grandeur of the site just by walking around it, so joining a group led by an archaeologist is recommended. Or buy yourself a good guidebook. We’ll walk you through some of the highlights here, but it really is just the start.
The Roman-era doorway, named after the 19th century archaeologist who discovered it, is your introduction to the site. It was a late addition, originally linked to the Propylaea by a broad marble staircase in around 3rd century AD in an attempt to protect the site.
Pedestal of Agrippa
A tall, rectangular marble plinth built in the second century BC just beyond the Beulé Gate. It is named after the Marcus Agrippa, son-in-law of Augustus, because a bronze representation of his four-horse chariot was once mounted on the base.
This is where things hot up. The Propylaea is a grand stairway complex (containing five gateways, with Ionian and Doric columns flanking it) that lead up to the Parthenon and the other monuments you’ve come to admire.
The Temple of Athena Nike
Take a moment to cherish the wonderfully-preserved Temple of Athena Nike. It stands to the side of the Propylaea and is dedicated to the Goddesses Athena Nike (the personification of victory). Its beauty and grace are something to behold.
And there she is, standing proudly at the top of the Sacred Rock… the best known temple of the ancient world. There are many ways to view the Parthenon: As an architectural wonder, with columns of subtly changing width that don’t just offer strength but also an optical illusion of straightness; as a shrine to the Goddess of Wisdom and Warfare and the Guardian of Athens; and as the place every invader of Athens wanted to claim or destroy. It was the Venetians, in the 17th century, who landed the direct hit that blew up the ammunitions cache of the Ottomans, resulting in the ruin of today. Yet still there is the dignity and grace of a building that proudly represents Athens and culture to a worldwide audience.
A temple dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. Built at the same time as the Parthenon, it is perhaps most famous for the Caryatids that held up its porch with their heads.
Old Temple of Athena
South of the Erechtheion, this early 6th century BC monument was built within the precincts of the Mycenaean royal palace of the 14th century BC.
Temple of Rome and Augustus
One of the last ancient additions to the Acropolis (around 1st century BC), this small circular temple (or what remains of it) is thought to have held a statue of Augustus and the deified Rome.
Sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia
One of the 6th century BC additions to the Acropolis, this sanctuary was dedicated to the goddess protecting expectant mothers and women in confinement.
Found along the south wall, the Chalkotheke (“bronze store” in Greek) housed metal votive offerings – weapons, statuettes and other objects, dedicated to the Acropolis.
From the airport
- By metro: Blue Line to Syntagma station and then Red line (one stop) to Acropolis station.
- By car or taxi: 35km, 40mins (approx. €38 during the day)
From Piraeus port
- By metro: Green line to Monastiraki station and walk 750m to the Acropolis through the archaeological site of Ancient Agora or Plaka.
- By car or taxi: 15km, 30mins (approx. €25 during the day)
- The Acropolis is open all year round except certain national holidays.
- If temperatures rise above 40°C (37°C in town) the site will close.
- Winter and summer opening times vary.
We recommend avoiding the hottest time of day during the summer and visiting in the quieter months, if possible.
- A couple of hours is enough to explore the Acropolis Hill but your length of stay should depend on how much time you want to appreciate each monument.
- Guided tours are typically 2-4hrs.
- Tickets are €20 (€10 reduced) and are reduced for all visitors between 1 November to 31 March. Certain free admission days apply.
- Guided tours cost more but many allow you to skip the queue.
- There’s is very little shade on the Acropolis Hill so wear a hat, sunglasses and sun cream and bring a water bottle.
- Wear comfortable shoes with a good grip as the marble can be slippery.
- There are numerous walking tour options for the Acropolis, or you can book a guide here.
- There’s a canteen opposite the ticket office.
- There’s a lift for visitors with disabilities, around 350m from the main entrance, but you are asked to contact officials in advance.
Please help us preserve the magic of our heritage for future generations by following all the basic rules of visiting archaeological sites.