Architecture Around the World

Athens - Roman Agora

Agora (pron. AG or a): A place of congregation, especially an ancient Greek marketplace

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Photo taken from Likovitos Hill

Photo taken from Likovitos Hill

Photo taken from Likovitos Hill

The Tower of the Winds

The Tower of the Winds

The Tower of the Winds

The Tower of the Winds

The Tower of the Winds

Tomb

detail

detail

Ionic capital

The Tower of the Winds: small, octagonal building is Hellenistic in style. The tower - built as a water clock, with a compass, sundials and weathervane - has a relief on each of the 8 sides depicting the wind from that direction. By architect Andronikos Kyrrestes in the 1st (2nd?) c BC. .Marble. DK book names each of 8 winds.

It has two propyla. The one on the west is in the Doric Order, and is known as the Gate of Athena Archegetis, to whom it was dedicated by the Athenian deme in 11/10 BC, during the archonship of Nikias. The other propylon, on the east side, has Ionic columns made of grey Hymettian marble, with bases of Pentelic marble.

A narrow staircase in the middle of the south side, to the east of the fountain-house that used to be located here, led to another small entrance, above the retaining wall, on the street that passed by at this point.

The courtyard was paved during the reign of the emperor Hadrian (AD 117-138). It was at this time the inscription containing the decree of Hadrian regulating the tax obligations of the oil-merchants was placed at the main door of the propylon.

The date at which the Roman Agora was destroyed is not known with certainty. In any event, after the raid by the Herulians (AD 267), when the city contracted within the late Roman wall, the commercial and administrative center was transferred from the Ancient to the Roman Agora and Hadrian's Library, where it continued to be located until the middle of the 19th century.

With the passage of time, the area became covered with thick earth deposits, and in the Byzantine and post Byzantine periods it was occupied by houses , workshops and churches (those of the Taxiarchs, now the Panayia Grigorousa, Profitis Ilias, and the Sotira Pazaroporta, which have been demolished) and the Fetiye Cami, or Mosque of the Conqueror (1456). Evidence for the urban development of the area can be drawn from 18th and 19th c. engravings and oil-paintings.

There are three other buildings to the east of the Roman Agora, on a higher level: A. The so-called "Agoranomeion" (1st c. AD). (This identification is no longer accepted). The wide staircase, the facade, with three archways, and parts of the north and south walls of the edifice are preserved. The inscription on the epistyle on the facade states that the building was dedicated to Athena Archegetis and the divi Augusti. B.

The Horologion of Kyrrhestos or Tower of the Winds (Aerides). This was built by the astronomer Andronikos from Kyrrhos in Macedonia. It is an octagonal tower of Pentelic marble standing on a base with three steps. It has a conical roof, a cylindrical annex on the south side, and two propyla. A bronze weathervane (no longer preserved) on the roof indicated the direction of the winds, personifications of which are carved in relief at the top of each of the sides. Their names are inscribed beneath the cornice : Boreas, Kaikias, Apeliotes, Euros, Notos, Lips, Zephyros and Skiron. The rays of sundials are carved on each side, beneath the scenes of the winds, and inside the building was a water clock, which was operated by water running down from the Acropolis. In the Early Christian period, the monument was used as a church, and in the 18th c. it was a Dervish monastery. C. The Vespasianae (public toilets), to the northwest of the Tower of the Winds. This is a building with a rectangular room with benches along the ides, an a narrow anteroom on the east.



Photos and their arrangement © 2001 Chuck LaChiusa
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