The Temple of Hephaestus is the best preserved ancient temple in Greece. It was dedicated to Hephaestus, the ancient god of fire and Athena, goddess of ceramics and craftsmanship. According to archaeologists, the temple was built around 450 BC on the western edge of the city, at the top of the Agoraeos Koronos hill, and is a classic example of Doric architecture. The temple was designed by Ictino, one of the talented architects who also worked on the Parthenon, however, many other craftsmen worked on this fantastic temple.
The temple has 6 columns on the short east and west sides and 13 on the north and south sides. Its friezes and other decorations have been badly damaged by earthquakes and invasions over the centuries. The temple is located in Thiseion, a short distance from the Acropolis and Monastiraki, just above the Ancient Agora and the Stoa of Attalos. It was built of Pentelic marble, while its sculptures are made of Parian marble. It has a pronaos, a nave and a backdrop. The temple is perimeter, with columns surrounding the centrally enclosed cella. Both are decorated with friezes.
The east and west sides of the temple are shorter, while the north and south sides are longer. On the east front of the temple there are sculptures depicting the labours of Hercules and Theseus’ battle with the Pallentines, the fifty children of Pallada. On the west side, sculptures depict the fall of Troy.
From the 7th century AD until 1834, this church was an Orthodox church dedicated to St. George Akamatos. The last Divine Liturgy was celebrated in February 1833, when King Otto arrived in Greece. In the 19th century, the church was used as a burial place for non-Orthodox Europeans and Philhellenes. Indeed, archaeological excavations revealed many graves. In 1834, King Otto ordered the building to be used as a museum, where it indeed remained as such until 1934. Today, this temple is one of the most important ancient monuments in Greece. Reconstruction and excavation work is still ongoing.
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