The Artist Eye: The Parthenon, Athens, Greece

by Keira on May 4, 2012

in Europe, Greece, Travel Destination Ideas, Travel Journal

Parthenon in Athens, Greece

Crowds at the Parthenon in Athens, Greece

Q: What is the Parthenon?

A: It is the Doric temple of Athena on the Acropolis in Athens.

The Acropolis in Athens

The Acropolis in Athens

Q: What is the Greek Doric style?

A: You can tell a Greek Doric column apart from other Greek column styles (Ionic, Corinthian) with relative ease. The Doric style is the simplest of the columns in terms of fancy work.

Detail of a pediment on the Parthenon

Detail of the Metopes and Triglyphs on the Parthenon

Q: Do the Parthenon Doric columns feature entasis?

A: Yes, they do. Entasis is an aesthetic applied to columns to make them fatter at the bottom than at the top. It is thought to correct the optical illusion of concavity. It also makes the columns look more grand, sturdy, and as a structural bonus, makes the column stronger.

Parthenon columns and metopes

Detail of the Architrave and Entablature at the Parthenon

Q: What are metopes?

A: Metopes are the rectangular spaces between two triglyphs. They are decorated with carvings at the Parthenon.

Keira in front of the Parthenon

Keira in front of the Parthenon

Q: Would you explain what a triglyph is?

A: They are the decorated vertically channeled tablets on either side of a metope. They look like the Roman numeral III.

Wall of columns at the Parthenon

Wall of columns at the Parthenon

Q: Where is the architrave on the Parthenon?

A: The architrave is 1 part of the entablature. It supports the frieze from column to column.

The Porch of the Caryatids at the Erechtheum

The Porch of the Caryatids at the Erechtheum

Q: Where is the entablature?

A: The entablature is the superstructure of architectural elements above the columns. It consists of the architrave, the frieze, and the cornice.

Precarious Column at Parthenon

Precarious Column at Parthenon

Q: So the pediments are on top of the columns?

A: Yes, and on top of the architrave. They are the triangle wedges, which unfortunately at the Parthenon were damaged. Many of the sculptures from the frieze are in the Athens Museum or among the Elgin Marbles collection.

Acropolis at Night, Athens, Greece

Acropolis at Night, Athens, Greece

Q: What are the friezes?

A: A frieze is an unmolded strip that may or may not be ornamented and is part of the entablature. The Parthenon frieze is the low relief, marble sculpture created to adorn the upper part of the entablature.

The Parthenon lit up at night

The Parthenon lit up at night

Q: Where is the cornice on the entablature?

A: The cornice is the decorative molding around the pediment.

Detail of fragmented pediment on the Parthenon

Detail of fragmented pediment on the Parthenon

Q: What building is the Erechtheum?

A: It is a temple dedicated to the Greek hero Erichthonius.

The Parthenon has entasis columns

The Parthenon has entasis columns

Q: What is the Propylaea?

A: The Propylaea is any monumental gateway. The original Propylaea is the entrance to the Acropolis in Athens. It means “before the gates.” We use it now to mean a gate building.

Crowds on the stairs of the Propylaea, Athenian Acropolis

Crowds on the stairs of the Propylaea, Athenian Acropolis

Q: Where is the Porch of the Caryatids?

A: The “Porch of the Maidens” is on the Acropolis. You can find it at the Erechtheum. It features six draped female figures known as caryatids.

The Erechtheum and the Porch of the Caryatids

The Erechtheum and the Porch of the Caryatids

Q: What are Caryatids?

A: A Caryatid is a sculpted female figure that provides the architectural support of a column. It can hold the weight of an entablature.

The Erechtheum from the side.

The Erechtheum from the side

Leave a Comment

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SharonS May 4, 2012 at 8:18 am

so cool! and informative :) thanks for that. It is truly amazing how something like this was built so long ago.

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2 Keira May 4, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Glad you like! I saw it in person before learning all about it in art history at university and what a difference that makes! It was beautiful. I would love to go back to Athens and Greece.

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3 Karin May 4, 2012 at 11:17 am

The Parthenon at night is simply breath taking. I dragged everyone up on top of the hotel to the outside restaurant for an amazing view of it.

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4 Keira May 4, 2012 at 7:36 pm

It was even more wowing when we walked toward the Plaka for shopping. It was a great guide when we got lost too! lol

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