Did you know that in the middle of the city of Athens is the best preserved ancient temple in the world? It’s almost perfectly preserved and makes the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens look like a building site.
Where is the Temple of Hephaestus
The temple of Hephaestus is situated in the Ancient Agora of Athens just off Adrianou Street, the oldest street in Athens, dating back more than 2000 years. The nearest metro stations are Thissio and Monastiraki, both of which are within a very easy 10-minute walk of the Temple. If you’re walking from the Acropolis, then it’s about 20 minutes. If you are coming from the Thissio metro station, I recommend you pop over to the Statue of Theseus as it’s only about 100 feet in front of the exit and is on the same path toward the temple.
Why is it called the Temple of Hephaestus
It’s called the Temple of Hephaestus because it was dedicated to Hephaestus, the god of fire and metalwork (who made the legendary shield of Achilles), and to Athena, the goddess of pottery and crafts.
Interestingly, archaeologists discovered the remains of a number of small pottery and metal workshops surrounding the temple. These shops likely produced the items used in worship at the temple or perhaps even items that were sold to pilgrims as souvenirs.
The Temple of Hephaestus used to be called the Theseion or Theseum. This was because it was attributed to the monument in modern times under the mistaken assumption that it housed the remains of the Athenian hero Theseus brought back to the city from the island of Skyros by Kimon in 475 BC, but refuted after inscriptions from within the temple associated it firmly with Hephaestus.
When was the Temple of Hephaestus built
When Pericles came to power in 461 BC, he devised a plan to transform Athens into a centre of Greek influence and culture. In 449 BC, construction began and took around thirty years to complete as funds and workers were directed to building the Parthenon. The western side was constructed between 445 BC and 440 BC. During that time, the statue of Athena Hephaistia had been added to the shrine next to the cult statue of Hephaestus.
The temple is built of marble from Mount Penteli, the same marble used to make the Parthenon. The temple dimensions are 13.71 m (45 ft) by 31.78 m, with six columns on the short sides and thirteen columns along the longer north and south sides.
Around 700 AD, the temple became a Christian church dedicated to Saint George.
When is it open
As the Temple of Hephaestus is located in the Ancient Agora of Athens, it has the same opening times.
Winter Season – November 1st to March 31st
Monday to Sunday 08:00 – 17:00
Summer Season – April 1st to October 31st
Monday to Sunday 08:00 – 20:00
January 1st, March 25th, May 1st, Easter Sunday, December 25th and 26th
What about access for those with disabilities or impairments
In the Temple of Hephaestus area, wheelchair access is possible through the entrance at the Thiseion Square (Apostolou Pavlou Street), or upon communication (+30 210 3214824 or +30 210 3210180).
However, since the Temple of Hephaestus is located in the Ancient Agora of Athens, you could consider using the entrance to that.
How much does it cost to enter
The Temple of Hephaestus is just one of the many things to do and see in the Ancient Agora of Athens, so you are buying a ticket to much more than the temple. The Ancient Agora of Athens was the heart of Ancient Athens, the centre of Athenian democracy, and religious and social activity. and the seat of justice. You will also be walking the very same places and paths as Socrates, St. Paul, and Plato
Tickets are €10 per person in the summer season (April 1st to October 31st), and it’s €5 per person in the Winter season (1st November to 31st March). The dates of the seasons are set entirely by the Greek government, and sometimes these can change, but that does not necessarily mean prices will adhere to the changed dates.
People with disabilities or impairments can, upon presentation of their ID card or passport and Disability Certificate, be admitted free of charge. In case of 67% disability or more, one escort is also entitled to free entrance.
As with charges to many ancient sites and museums in Greece, there are many other categories in which you can pay a reduced rate or enter for free. For information about free and reduced admission to Greek State Archaeological Sites, Monuments and Museums, just click here.
However, there are key dates for many of these ancient sites and museums that anyone can enter for free. But be very careful going on these days, as, because they are free, there are often queues of people before opening time, and the places become very busy quickly. The date are:
- 6th March (in memory of Melina Mercouri)
- 18th April (International Monuments Day)
- 18th May (International Museums Day)
- The last weekend of September (European Heritage Days)
- 28th October (Ochi Day)
- Every first Sunday from 1st November to 31st March
What are the best things to do and see at the Temple of Hephaestus
Look for the many square-carved plaques that are just below the roof and go all the way around. The ten on the east side depict the labours of Hercules. The other side shows four of the labours of Theseus, and the rest shows the battle of troy.
One of my favourite things to do whilst there is to enjoy the spectacular views you have of the Acropolis of Athens, the Parthenon, the Ancient Agora of Athens, and also the surrounding areas over Athens.
Best places for photos, selfies and the perfect Instagram
- As you walk up the hill towards the temple, there are several opportunities to get some spectacular photos.
- From the front steps of the temple, looking up at the columns and pediment.
- From the side, looking down the row of columns.
- Standing with your back to the temple, you can take some fantastic photos of the Ancient Agora of Athens, The Stoa of Attalos, The Acropolis of Athens, and the Parthenon.
- From the back of the temple, framing the building with the Acropolis in the background.
- Inside the temple, looking up at the coffered ceiling.
- In the surrounding park area, with the Temple of Hephaestus in the distance.
- At night, when the temple is illuminated.
- In the rain, with the Temple of Hephaestus reflecting in a puddle.
Good places to eat nearby
One of my favourite places to eat in Athens is almost outside the entrance to the Acropolis of Athens. It’s called Antica Cafe Restaurant, and here’s the Tripadvisor Review. It’s just to your right as you stand with your back to the entrance. It’s one of my go-to places in Athens for any time of the day. If you go, I would appreciate you mentioning I recommended them. I don’t receive any commission, I just think it’s a lovely place, and as well as great service, food and prices, you’ve also got the pleasure of dining on the oldest street (about 2000 years) in Athens and a view of the Stoa of Attalos.
There you have it, a pretty good guide to the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens: the best preserved ancient temple in the world. It and the Ancient Agora of Athens really are great places to visit, and I highly recommend that you do.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog. If you’re interested in learning more about other great things to do in Athens, then take a look below or for much more, just wander through my site.