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The Greek Legacy of Erechtheion – Temple in Athens

By Sruthi - April 17, 2020
caryatids at Erechtheum

The Eternal Saga

The Erechtheion temple in the city of Athens is an ancient Greek temple dedicated to the Goddess of Wisdom and War, Athena and The God of the sea, earthquakes, and horses, Poseidon. Also known as The Erechtheum, was built during the classical period, 5th century. The architect may have been Mnesikles. The original structure was damaged in the Persian attacks of 480 BCE. The replacements of the damaged temple were ordained by the then General of Athens, Pericles during 447 BCE.

The structure was built to sheathe the wooden cult statue of Athena and to praise the glory of the powerful city. The elevation of the temple along with the porch of 6 Caryatids provides a prominent setting above the city. This remains one of the most remarkable buildings of the great age today.

Caryatids at Erechtheion temple
Image by Panagiotis Lianos from Pixabay

The Erechtheion was named after the mythical Athenian king, demi-god Erechtheus. Across time, the temple has served multiple purposes like operating as a shrine centre for other ancient religions as well. The temple was built from Pentelic marble, which was known for its white, fine grain marble, with a faint yellow tint, which makes it shine with a golden hue under sunlight.

The notable features of the temple are the Caryatids in the south porch, the sacred olive tree to the south-west, the mark of Poseidon’s trident to the north marked by the saltwater well. Mythology states that the sacred serpent of Athena lived in the western chamber and was provided with the best care, feeding on honey cakes. This sacred place is also said to be the burial place of Kings Kekrops and Erechtheus.

How to Get There

By Metro:
The Erechtheum is centrally located in the Acropolis of Athens. The Propylaea is well connected by 3 Metro stations situated conveniently around the mountain. The tickets can be brought from any of the stations – Monastiraki and Thesion on the Southside and the Acropolis metro station near the new museum.

Erechtheum structure

By Bus:
You can take the Line 227 bus from the Acropolis to reach the site in around 40 – 60 mins.

By Taxi:
Taxi is the quickest way to get to the site in under half an hour. This is highly recommended if traveling with kids as the drop off is directly at the temple

Entry details

The temple is open everyday ( excluding major Greek holidays ) from 8 Am to 5 Pm. The Acropolis Athens pass costs 20 Euros per person and this covers entry to The Erechtheion. This ticket is valid for 48 hours and covers entry to other archaeologically important sights as well. The best time to visit Erechtheion Temple is early in the morning for beautiful weather or late afternoon for amazing sunset views. This will also help avoid peak hours between 1000 hrs and 1500 hrs.

Tips and Tricks

  • Do the tour with a guide to fully understand and appreciate the soul of the temple. Also, read up on the Erechtheion history before getting there. This will help you relate more to the place.
  • Wear comfortable shoes with a good grip. The marble tends to be slippery.
  • Bring water, as there is limited shade at the top of the mountain.
  • This site will be difficult to navigate for the differently-abled as it is not wheelchair accessible.
  • Combine this visit with the Acropolis Museum

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