The Parthenon, dedicated by the Athenians to Athena Parthenos, the patron of their city, is the most magnificent creation of Athenian democracy at the height of its power. It is also the finest monument on the Acropolis in terms of both conception and execution. Built between 447 and 438 BC, as part of the greater Periklean building project, this so-called Periklean Parthenon (Parthenon III) replaced an earlier marble temple (Parthenon II), begun after the victory at the battle of Marathon at approximately 490 BC and destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. This temple had replaced the very first Parthenon (Parthenon I) of c. 570 BC. The Periklean Parthenon was designed by architects Iktinos and Kallikrates, while the sculptor Pheidias supervised the entire building program and conceived the temple’s sculptural decoration and chryselephantine statue of Athena.

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O land of Byzantium, o thrice blessed city, thou center of the earth, jewel of the universe, far-beaming star, lamp of the nether world … ”

Konstantinos Manasses: “Οδοιπορικόν” (12th century)

Constantinople, the capital of an ecumenical empire, was the Imperial City where the Emperor of the Romans, as well as the ecumenical patriarch, had his seat. It was the heart and the symbol of the empire and its fall marked its end.

The city’s origin is traced to Greek antiquity, when, according to legend, Byzas from Megara founded it in the 7th century BC. The Roman emperor Septimius Severus restored it and the first Christian emperor, Constantine, inaugurated the New Rome on 11 May 330.

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Hagia Sophia

– Chora, Pammakaristos and the Church of Saints Sergius & Bacchus, notable churches of Constantinople 

The Church of Divine Wisdom – Hagia Sophia – has a place among the greatest architectural masterpieces of the world. Through the ages the church has undergone many changes and alterations, but nothing can ruin the awe and magic that visitors feel.

The church was inaugurated in 537 under the Emperor Justinian. In the Frankish period, Hagia Sophia was converted into a Roman Catholic Church. After 1453 it served as mosque, eventually being turned into a museum in 1935. The buttresses, that were added to support the massive building, have altered the outer shape partially, as have the added minarets and mausoleums.

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Athens in the Ottoman Period

The Ottoman period for Athens began in 1458 with the city’s peaceful occupation, following a treaty between the Ottomans and the last duke of the Acciaioli, and ended in 1821 with the proclamation of Greek Independence. During this period the city was in Ottoman hands continuously with the exception of a brief interval of Venetian occupation between 1687 and 1688, which is usually taken as the boundary between the historical subdivisions of the first and second Ottoman periods. Continue reading Athens in the Ottoman Period

Neoclassical Athens

It remains an undisputed fact that what was called neoclassical architecture at the end of the 18th and the first part of the 19th centuries was an international style that was born as a response to the elegant and decorative court aesthetic movements of Baroque and Rococo. The rising social middle class sought new ethical and aesthetic models. These models were found in the ancient democracies of Athens and Rome.

In Greece, this style arrived via Germany. Let us not forget that Bavaria under the rule of King Ludwig was, in that period, among the most important centers of Neoclassicism. Nonetheless, the neoclassical style in Greece acquired its own dynamic and particularity, the main characteristics of which were its re-immersion in classical models, its wide acceptance, which exceeded the monumental structures and the well-heeled classes to reach the wide mass of the population and, finally, its long persistence, which runs to the interwar period. Continue reading Neoclassical Athens