The Temple of Hephaestus is the best-preserved ancient temple in Greece, dedicated to Hephaestus, the ancient god of fire, and Athena, goddess of ceramics and craftsmanship. Built around 450 BC on the western edge of the city at the top of the Agoraeos Koronos hill, the temple is a classic example of Doric architecture, designed by Ictino, one of the talented architects who also worked on the Parthenon.
The temple has 6 columns on the short east and west sides and 13 on the north and south sides, with its friezes and other decorations badly damaged by earthquakes and invasions over the centuries. The temple is made of Pentelic marble, while its sculptures are made of Parian marble, featuring depictions of the labours of Hercules, Theseus’ battle with the Pallentines, and the fall of Troy.
After being used as an Orthodox church from the 7th century AD until 1834, the temple was used as a burial place for non-Orthodox Europeans and Philhellenes in the 19th century. In 1834, King Otto ordered the building to be used as a museum, where it remained as such until 1934.
Today, the Temple of Hephaestus is one of the most important ancient monuments in Greece, with ongoing reconstruction and excavation work. Its location in Thiseion, a short distance from the Acropolis and Monastiraki, just above the Ancient Agora and the Stoa of Attalos, makes it an easy and accessible attraction for tourists interested in history, archaeology, and ancient Greek culture.
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