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Cultural Heritage of my Country
Created by students
from the 2 Junior High School of Lefkada
The Parthenon is a temple on the Acropolis of Athens in
Greece. It belongs to the national cultural heritage of our
country and it is the most important surviving monument of
classical Greece. It was built in honor of the goddess Athena,
the goddess of wisdom, who was patron of the city.
The temple was built in the 5th century B.C., after the Persian
army tried to conquer Athens. The Persians lost the battle but
before leaving, they burned down and destroyed the city. Then
Pericles, ruler of Athens, had the vision to rebuild the
destroyed city and lead Athens to the peak of its glory, culture,
and power… lead Athens to the Golden Age.
Pericles persuaded his fellow citizens to create a unique
monument that would be the symbol of the cultural identity of
Athens, the ideas of the Athenian people and the system of
governance - the Athenian democracy - where every citizen
had a voice in the matters of the city.
The Parthenon was built of Pentelic marble, a white marble
quarried on Mount Pentelicus near Athens, in Doric style with
many Ionic features and was the result of the cooperation of
the architects Ictinos and Kallikrates and the sculptor Pheidias.
Its construction began in 448 B.C. and was completed in 432
The sculptor Pheidias was also responsible for the great statue
of the goddess Athena, made of gold and ivory, inside the
The centuries passed and the glory of Athens faded. Many
conquerors passed from the Acropolis, each leaving their mark
on the Parthenon. The Heruls, an ancient barbaric German
tribe, the Romans, the Christians, the Franks, the Ottomans,
the Venetians...
In the 6th century AD, it was converted into a Christian church
dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In the 15th century A.D., after the
Ottomans had conquered Greece, it was turned into a mosque.
In 1687, during a bombardment by the Venetian army under
General Francesco Morosini against the Ottomans, it was
severely damaged.
In the early 19th century, from 1801 till 1812, a British
nobleman, named Lord Elgin, removed many of the surviving
marble sculptures that decorated the temple and shipped them
to Britain, causing even greater damage to the monument.
With the alleged permission of the Ottoman Empire, he hired
workers to detach the sculptures from the Parthenon using
special saws and primitive methods. Unfortunately this led to
the destruction not only of the monument but of many statues
and other architectural frameworks as well.
Lord Elgin
Lord Elgin was the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.
At that time Greece was under Ottoman occupation. Elgin was
a great admirer of Greek art and a collector of antiquities so he
took advantage of his position and of the political situation of
Europe in the beginning of the 19th century and he had his crew
violently cut as many marble sculptures as they could off the
Parthenon and shipped them to Britain in order to decorate his
new mansion. However, we went bankrupt in 1816, so he sold
the marbles to the English Government to be displayed in the
British Museum.
He even named the marbles after himself calling them “The
Elgin Marbles”. Today, however, these marble sculptures are
known as the “Parthenon Marbles”.
The Parthenon marbles
Sculptures detached from the Parthenon
now displayed in the British Museum
It is hard to understand how a man who claimed he loved art,
could do such great damage to a monument of unique
importance and how a European government could buy the
national archeological treasures of a country that had been
illegally and so brutally obtained.
The marble sculptures on the Parthenon
All temples in Greece were designed to be seen from the
outside. Therefore the marble sculptures that decorated this
temple were on the exterior of the monument. There were
three main sets of sculptures on the Parthenon:
the pediments, the metopes and the frieze.
frieze[email protected]/4292860070
The pediments
The pediments are the triangular spaces formed by the eaves
of the roof.
The east pediment, above the entrance of the temple,
depicted the birth of the goddess Athena from the head of her
father, Zeus, in the presence of the Olympian gods.
East pediment (representation)
The west pediment depicted the contest between the gods
Athena and Poseidon for claiming the protection of the city,
which resulted in the victory of the goddess Athena, who
became patron of Athens.
West pediment (representation)
The metopes
The metopes were individual sculptures in high relief above the
outside row of columns, in total 92 square plaques separated
by trigliphs.
The themes of the metopes had to do with the Trojan War, the
battle between the Olympian Gods and the Giants, the battle
between the Greeks and the Centaurs and the battle of the
Greeks against the Amazons.
“The battle between the Greeks and the Centaurs”,
mythological creatures half men and half horse.
Metopes from the Parthenon displayed in the British Museum.[email protected]/6379373253
The frieze
The frieze is a long continuous sculpture in low relief which
runs around the outside upper part of the main temple.
The theme of the frieze was the grand Panathenaic procession,
the most important festival of the Athenians in honor of the
goddess Athena.
“The offering of the veil,
a gift from the Athenians to the goddess Athena”.
Part of the central section of the east frieze displayed in the
British Museum.
Unfortunately these sculptures are not on the Parthenon today.
Some of them are at the New Acropolis Museum while others
are still in the British Museum.
The Parthenon marbles in the British Museum
The Parthenon marbles in the New Acropolis Museum[email protected]/14180158198
Of the 28 pediment statues that still survive today, 9 are in
Athens and 19 in the British Museum in London.
Of the 64 surviving metopes, 48 are in Athens and 15 in
Of the 97 surviving blocks of the frieze, 40 are in Athens and 56
in London.
The New Acropolis Museum
(pediment, metopes, frieze
from the east side of the Parthenon)
The New Acropolis Museum (metopes and frieze)[email protected]/14180158198
The New Acropolis Museum
The hall in the British Museum
where the Parthenon marbles are displayed
The Parthenon marbles in the British Museum
The Greeks have been trying for years to bring the Parthenon
marbles back to Athens from the British Museum, especially
now that the New Acropolis Museum - one of the most modern
and well equipped museums in the world - has been
completed. Since 1983 (on the initiative of Culture Minister
Melina Mercouri), the Greek government has been committed
to the return of the sculptures to Greece. But even before that,
many people, among them even members of the British
Parliament, had demanded the return of the Parthenon
marbles to Athens.
Melina Mercouri
We believe the Parthenon marbles should be returned to the
New Acropolis Museum as they are integral architectural
members of a unique monument of great importance and
when they are reunited with the rest of the monument this will
allow their understanding as a whole at the very place they
were created.