The Parthenon is one of the most emblematic sights of Greece and the whole world and is considered by historians and architects as the perfect match between simplicity and power. A pole of attraction for millions of visitors every year, the Parthenon still holds some secrets of the unseen, let's go and discover them.
The Parthenon is one of the most famous monuments in the world, however, it was not the first building erected in the Acropolis area. In fact, on the exact same spot, there was a temple under construction dedicated to the goddess Athena, which today is called the pre-Parthenon. This temple seems to have been destroyed during the Persian War in 480 BC and after about 30 years began the reconstruction of the current Parthenon by the team of Iktinos and Kallikratis in collaboration with the sculptor Phidias, which took about 10 years of construction (447-438 BC)
2. The Parthenon was colored.
Despite the fact that the image of the Parthenon in everyone's mind is identified with the white hue, recent studies using infrared lighting have discovered the existence of traces of red, blue, and gold colors that adorned its decoration, which in places can be seen with the naked eye. The reason why today the monument presents this light gray hue is due to the decomposition of the color that has taken place over the centuries.
3. It's the biggest construction expense.
Through the years, some of the economic elements of the construction of the Parthenon have survived to the present day, highlighting that the biggest expense of the construction was the transfer of the Pentelicmarble to the Acropolis hill, a route of about 16 kilometers. For the purpose of construction, about 20 thousand tons of marble were needed, while the distance from the quarry was covered within six hours, with the final ascent being achieved with the use of improvised cranes.
4. The exact copy in America.
The architecture of the Parthenon has been a source of inspiration for the construction of many buildings worldwide that have seemed to copy its appearance, such as the British Museum in London. In the area of Nashville in the state of Tennessee, United States, there is even an exact replica of the monument, standing adorning the center of the city park, from 1897. In 1990, a replica of the famous statue of Athena was installed, completing the reconstruction.
5. The funding was not made by the Athenians.
The Athenians with the outcome of the Persian wars managed to turn into a leading power. As a result, the funding of the monument came from the capital of the other member states of the Delos alliance that were allies of the Athenians and not directly from its own citizens.
6. The use of the golden mean.
The golden ratio is the ratio between length and width that makes a rectangle pleasing to the eye. The sculptor Phidias, who used it extensively in his sculptures, also constructed the Parthenon as a "golden" rectangle, which was built with the extreme precision of this mathematical ratio.
7. The theft of the statue's gold.
The statue of Athena the Virgin, inside the Parthenon, was hijacked by the tyrant Lacharis in the 3rd century BC, who took gold from her hair and clothes to mint coins to pay the mercenaries of the army. In place of the once precious metal, it is believed by experts that plates were placed this time, which had been gilded.
8. The name Parthenon.
Although the name Parthenon is identical to the monument, in texts of the 5th century BC. Its building was referred to as "The Great Temple". The first appearance of the name, which was to become synonymous with awe and high architecture, is presented in texts by the orator Demosthenes a century later and it is considered that its roots are based on a specific room inside the building without it being clarified exactly what it was.
9. The restoration of the Parthenon.
Dating back to the 70s, the Greek state has begun the process of restoration and maintenance of the Parthenon, where the original construction materials are supplemented with more resistant to weather conditions and corrosion, in order to support the integrity of the monument over the centuries.
10. The plan for the construction of the palace.
The Parthenon in its long dramatic history has experienced many transformations with one of them wanting it to become a middle wall with the newly built modern palace of the first King, in the recent history of Greece, Otto. After the creation of these bold designs by the German architect Sinkel, the idea was finally imprinted only on paper. If you want to read five more shocking facts about the Parthenon, click here.
The unique Parthenon during its thousands of years was burned, looted, and changed identity and purpose, but always managed to rivet anyone who climbs the sacred rock to visit it.