The Temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis of Athens

Temple of Athena Nike

Next to the Partneon is a temple dedicated to Athena Nike.
Situated on the Acropolis of Athens, the Temple of Athena Nike was built in 426 BC - 421 BC to commemorate the Athenians' victories over the Persians.

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Where is the Temple of Athena Nike

Next to the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens is the Temple of Athena Nike. This small temple was built in 426 – 421 BC to commemorate the Athenians’ victories over the Persians.

It is highly vulnerable to attack and well placed for defence, it has been used as an observation post and an ancient shrine to the goddess of Victory, Athena Nike. 

Legend records the temple site where King Aegeus stood waiting for his son Theseus to return from his mission to Crete to slay the Minotaur. On his return, Theseus had promised to swap his ships’ black sails for white, but he forgot his promise. When the king saw the black sails, he presumed his son dead and threw himself into the sea, which now bears his name (Aegean).

The temple has four Ionic columns at each portico end, built of Pentelic marble. It was reconstructed in 1834–8, after being destroyed in 1686 by the Ottomans. On the point of collapse in 1935, it was again dismantled and reconstructed according to information resulting from more recent research.

The Persians demolished the Sanctuary of Athena Nike in 480-479 BC, and a temple was built over the remains. The new temple construction was underway in 449 BC and was finished around 420 BC.

The cult was supervised by the Priestess of Athena Nike, who was appointed through democratic allotment. If still in use by the 4th-century, the temple would have been closed during the persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire.

Greece, which was under the control of the Byzantine Empire, fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 when they conquered Constantinople. The temple sat untouched until it was demolished in 1686 by the Turks, who used the stones to build defences. 

In 1834 the temple was reconstructed after the independence of Greece. In 1998 the temple was dismantled so that the crumbling concrete floor could be replaced and its frieze was removed and placed in the new Acropolis Museum that opened in 2009. 

The Temple of Athena Nike is often closed to visitors as work continues. The new museum exhibit consists of fragments of the site before the Persians were thought to have destroyed it in 480 BC. 

Sculptures from the friezes have been salvaged, such as the deeds of Hercules, the statue of Moscophoros, a damaged sculpture of a goddess credited to Praxiteles and the Rampin horseman, as well as dedications, and decrees.

The East Frieze

The east Frieze sits above the entrance of the temple on the porch side. It showed an assembly of the gods Athena, Zeus and Poseidon

The North Frieze

The north frieze depicted a battle between Greeks entailing cavalry. 

The South Frieze

The south frieze showed the decisive victory over the Persians at the battle of Plataea. 

The West Frieze

The west frieze has a good amount of the original sculpting preserved. Like the east frieze, it is most likely telling the story of a battle or a victory.  There are multiple corpses depicted (more than any of the other three friezes) and imagery of one about to be killed with some figures wearing helmets. This battle between armies most likely depicts the massacre of the Corinthians by the Athenians.

In front of the temple, looking up at the facade.

Inside the cella, looking up at the statue of Athena Nike.

On the steps leading up to the temple, looking back down at the temple.

From the top of the Acropolis, looking down at the temple.

From across the Propylaea, looking at the temple’s facade.

In the shadow of the temple, looking up at its facade.

Against the blue sky, with the white temple against a bright background.

With the Parthenon in the background.

With the sunset behind it.

At night, with the illuminated temple against a dark backdrop.

The Temple of Athena Nike is located on the Acropolis of Athens and therefore has the same opening hours.

Summer (April 1st to October 31st)

Monday – Sunday 08:00 – 20:00

Winter (November 1st to March 31st)

Monday – Sunday 09:00 – 18:00

Closed

January 1st, March 25th, May 1st, Easter Sunday, December 25th and 26th

Thanks to the Greek Government, from the beginning of 2021, visitors with mobility issues now have access to the Athens Acropolis thanks to a new lift and specially designed paths facilitating wheelchair access.

The modern lift, which replaces a repeatedly malfunctioning one, is located on the north face of the Acropolis along the ancient promenade and will transport wheelchair users and individuals with Disabilities and Impairments to the top of the hill.

The specially designed and renovated 500-meter-long and four-meter-wide pathways also provide access to and around the Parthenon.

My photos of the Temple of Athena Nike

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