Temple of Athena Nike (Athens)

Temple of Athena Nike


Location: Athens


Description of Temple of Athena Nike or Athena of Victory

Temple of Athena Nike or Athena of Victory is a small elegant temple that stans on top of the Athenian Acropolis. Temple of Athena Nike or Athena of Victory designed by architect Kallikrates and was erected here in 426- 421 BC to commemorate significant victories of the Greek armies over the Persians. Temple of Athena Nike stands on a site of an older temple that was destroyed in 480 BC by the invading Persians.


Temple of Athena Nike frieze depicts scenes from the Battle of Plataea that was fought in 479 BC and resulted in decisive Greek victory. Unique feature of this pagan temple is a fact that it stands on artificial base made from Pentelic marble at a height of 9.6 metres (31 feet) above natural rock. The roof of the temple was supported by four Ionic columns that measure 4 meters of 13 feet in height. The temple was surrounded by a parapet to prevent people from falling from a steep cliff. Inside Temple of Athena Nike was a statue of the goddess Nike. In one hand a statue held a helmet (symbol of war) and in the other hand she held grenades (symbol of fertility). Usually ancient Greeks portrayed goddess Nike with wings, but this statues was wingless. This was done as a symbol that the Athenians don't want the Victory to leave their home town.


In 1686 The Turks used part of the marble from the Temple of Athena Nike for the construction of the military fortifications to defend the city, but in 1834- 38 the temple was reconstructed. The marble was returned to its present location. In 1935 Temple of Athena Nike underwent new reconstruction using better knowledge and technologies about its past appearance.

Legend of King Aegeus and Theseus (Athens)

Temple of Athena NikeAncient Greeks believed that it was here that King Aegeus stood, while waiting for his son Theseus. Ruler of Crete, king Minos, imposed a terrible tax on the Greeks. He forced Athenians to give up seven virgins and seven young men every month. They were transported to the island of Crete to Knossos. Where a terrible creature lived in a labyrinth created by a local king. With body of a man and a head of bull, Minotaur killed everyone who dared to come here. Theseus made a promise to his father Aegeus that he will change the sails on the ships from black to white if he killed the monster. The hero achieved his goal and even made it out. However on the way back he had to give up his loved Ariadne who helped him to escape from the labyrinth. He forgot to change the sails on the ship that was carrying him to Athens. It was believed that King Aegeus saw these sails, assumed his son was killed and jumped from this cliff into the sea. Thus the Aegean Sea got its name.