Architecture / Greece / History / Travel

Temple of Athena Nike: Third Time’s a Charm!

IMG_3556 - Version 3

As most designers will tell you, simple and classic never goes out of style. And after 2500 years, the Temple of Athena Nike atop the Acropolis in Athens is still a rock-solid, gorgeous classic.

Athena was the patron saint of Athens, and there are three temples on the Acropolis built in her honor. The Nike Temple was built to recognize Athena’s help in bringing Athens victory in war.

IMG_3524 Like many Greek ruins, it’s surprising that this temple still exists, given that it’s been assembled and reassembled THREE times. The original building dates to 425 BC; then 21 centuries later the Ottoman Turks decided they had a better use for the stone, so they tore it down.

After independence, the Greeks gathered up the parts (I’m sure this project had the archaeologists scratching their heads.), and put it back together. In 1935 it was taken down again, but the the repair and restoration wasn’t done very well, so over the past 10 years it has been meticulously disassembled, restored, and rebuilt. IMG_3518

Hopefully, the third time’s a charm, and The Temple of Athena Nike will stand for another 25 centuries. 

Happy Trails,
James

athena-fiP.S. And if you’d like to see Athena, dressed to the nines, and a modern-day replica of the Parthenon, check out these posts.

Athena: Music City’s Biggest Celebrity

The Perfect Greek Temple: Right at Home in Nashville

 

 

27 thoughts on “Temple of Athena Nike: Third Time’s a Charm!

  1. James I had no idea about the temple being built three times. When we were in Athens two years ago there was major construction going on at the Parthenon. Perhaps part of the final rebuild?

    • Sue, a friend who visited recently told us that the scaffolding is still there, so I don’t think that we’ll be hearing the word “final” for a while. The process of rebuilding and restoring must be long a laborious. And after reading about the Nike Temple, I can understand them wanting to get it right the first time. ~James

      • Yes I imagine the project manager being rather meticulous in approving each stone for fear for the need of a fourth re-do. Good point James.

    • Andrew, I know that the Elgin Marbles are a touchy subject between Greece and the UK. Are there any ongoing discussions for their return, or can we just plan on a trip the British Museum? ~James

  2. 25 centuries and more I hope. Better technology enables us to restore ancient monuments to their former glory, indeed. Hopefully the same thing happens to the sites in conflict zones like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan in the future.

    • I agree Bama. When we lived in Khartoum, it was always a bit sad to visit their museums and ruins. The exhibits were covered in dust and the building was crumbling. We also visited the ancient ruins at Meroe in Northern Sudan, and while there had been some restoration, it was minor. I understand that in poor countries the government must spend funds based on countrywide priorities, but it’s still sad to see. ~James

      • Engaging local communities to preserve ancient sites near where they live can be a good alternative for governments who have limited budget. Preserved sites means greater chance for tourists to come and provide income to the communities. However sustainability will be another issue to address.

  3. The worst reconstruction has to be the Acropolis at Lindos on Rhodes. A nice book about the islands is Lawrence Durrell – “Greek Islands”, it is an out of date perspective but still quite charming.

    • I didn’t know about the Parthenon at Lindos Andrew, and after a bit of online research, I can see what you mean. The original structures were quite grandiose, and what remains seems almost insignificant by comparison. Thanks for the book rec. ~James

  4. It is easy for those who have not traveled much to think these ancient ruins are well-preserved for posterity. However, in my experience there are precious few structures still in existence that date back beyond 800 years that have not been rebuilt or renovated.

    One school of thought in archeology is to leave remains as they are found as opposed to rebuilding ancient structures. I have to go along with those who prefer to do the rebuilding. I truly hope the Greeks get these temples rebuilt to preserve their ancient glory. That way perhaps I and others will get to see them someday as something other than piles of rubble. You provide great images, as always. – Mike

    • Mike, I’m with you on reconstruction. Like you, I’ve seen all types of ruins, and despite all my efforts to envision what the original looked like, it helps to have a bit of rebuilding to appreciate the sight. I appreciate both side of this argument, but ultimately, I guess it depends on what the archaeologists want to accomplish. If the ruin is going to be an academic lab, then just leave it. But if it’s going to be an attraction that the public can appreciate, some reconstruction should be done. ~ James

    • Thanks Yvette. I’d like to take credit for being artsy, but if you’ve hiked up the Acropolis, you know that the path is steep. These shots were me taking a break on the path. But, they did turn out nicely. ~James

  5. Truly, a design that transcends time! I would love to see it partly reconstructed as well. And see at least some of its marbles returned 🙂

    • I suspect that Greek architecture has inspired more building designs around the world than any other ancient culture Madhu, and for good reason. I agree on the Marbles, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. ~James

    • It really is beautiful Juliann, and luckily it was salvaged. As Greek temples go (at least the ones I’ve seen) it’s relatively small, which makes it even more attractive to me. If you go to Athens, I’m sure that it will be sitting there, at the top of the steps to the Acropolis, waiting for you. ~James

    • Thanks for the comment and for dropping by the blog Kan. This temple certainly has an interesting story, and it’s amazing that they were able to find so much of the original stone. Hopefully, the only threat now is an earthquake instead of invading Turks. ~James

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