Ancient Agora of Athens

Ancient Agora of Athens

The Ancient Agora was the heart of the Ancient Athens and the center of social, spiritual and economic life. It was a place to meet, have political discussions and commercially trade.

The Agora is where government and justice where laid out as well as a religious center – the point of which all roads led to. Here, Apostle Paul preached Christianity for the first time to Greeks in 51 A.D. The area was used continuously throughout the history of Athens – from the Neolithic Era (3000 B.C.), as a place of inhabitance and burial, and from the beginning of the 6th Century B.C. (the age of Solon) and on, as a public place.

After restoration and remodeling, the Agora took its final form in the 2nd Century B.C. With the massive destructions – from the Persians in 480-479 B.C., the Romans in 86 B.C. and the Herulians in 267 A.D. – much construction activity was observed, while in the Slavic attack in 580 A.D.., the area was left desolate. From the Byzantine years, the Agora was utilized again as a dwelling area and later, during the Turkish rule in Greece, it became an entire living community.

After the foundation of Athens as the capital of the independent Greek state in 1834, the Agora was demolished by archaeologists, who were marginally convinced that Plaka (which was also built during Turkish reign) should remain as it was.

In the 19th Century the Archaeological Society resurrected the four colossal marble figures of Giants and Tritons at the facade of the Gymnasium. In 1953-56 the Stoa of Attalus was rebuilt into a museum. During that same time the Byzantine church (1000 B.C.) of Agioi Apostoloi (Holy Apostles) was restored. Lastly, stabilization and preservation work was done to the Temple of Hephaestus from 1972-75 while restoration to its roof was completed in 1978 by the Archaeological Service.

Excavation by the Archaeological Society began from 1859 - 1912 during the laying of the electric railroad lines. From 1931 the American Archaeological School began systematic excavations with the financial support of J. Rockefeller and continue until this day. In order for the entire area to be uncovered, about 400 younger buildings had to be demolished in an area of about 120.000 square meters.