The Pnyx Hill
Where is the The Pnyx Hill
The Pnyx Hill in central Athens is where ancient Athenians gathered to host their popular assemblies, thus making the hill one of the earliest and most important sites in the creation of democracy.
The Pnyx was used for popular assemblies in Athens as early as 507 BC when the city’s reforms transferred political power to it’s citizens. Just as it did almost 25000 years ago, it still looks down on the Ancient Agora of Athens, which was the commercial and social centre of the city.
The Pnyx is the very place where democracy was born. Not the democracy we know today, but nonetheless, it had it’s beginnings there.
It was the meeting place of one of the world’s earliest known democratic legislatures, the Athenian ekklesia (assembly). The flat stone platform, known as the bema, the “stepping stone” or speakers’ platform, is still visible today. This was the same platform from which noted politicians, generals, and philosophers, including Pericles, Socrates, Pythagoras, Themistocles, and Aristides spoke to the crowds.
It was protected by a defence wall built in the fourth century BC and reconstructed a century later. The new walls are made of almost solid masonry about two metres thick.
During the early 5th century, the people apparently sat on the hillside facing a speaker’s platform on the north. The seating capacity may have been anywhere from 6000 to 13,000 people.
Probably late 5th century BC, the orientation of the auditorium was apparently reversed. A stepped terrace wall was created on the north to support an artificial terrace. The people sat facing a speaker’s platform on the south.
The Pnyx was rebuilt and expanded in the 3rd quarter of the 4th century BC, probably around 345-335 BC. A massive, curved retaining wall was built (or at least begun) on the north. The southern side of the auditorium and speaker’s platform (bema) was quarried out of the natural bedrock.
Finally, in the Roman period, part of the Pnyx was used as a sanctuary of Zeus Hypsistos.
It’s one of the best places to watch sunrises and sunsets.
In March, the Kathara Deftera, or “Clean Monday” — the beginning of Lent among Orthodox Christians, is the day Greeks fly kites (which are symbolic of the Resurrection) and go on picnics outdoors. The holiday is also the unofficial start of Spring for the Greek people. This is a great opportunity to mix with the locals and watch them fly kites on Pnyx Hill.
It’s one of the best places to have a picnic
It’s one of the best spots to enjoy the fantastic views over Athens, including the Acropolis of Athens, the Parthenon, the Ancient Agora of Athens, the Temple of Hephaestus, the National Observatory of Athens, and many more.
The very spot shown on the map on the right is one of the best places to take photos of the Acropolis of Athens. This is the place where many of those perfect photos you see on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
It’s also a great spot to take panoramas from the National Observatory of Athens all the way to the Acropolis of Athens.
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