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"… the barbarians had reached Attica and were destroying all of it by fire."
Herodotus, 8. 50.1, translation by A. D. Godley, 1920

In 480 BC the Persians invaded Attica burning and destroying almost everything. The city was empty, as shortly before their invasion the Athenians had abandoned it and had taken refuge to Troizen and the islands of the Saronic Gulf.

When the Athenians returned after the victory, they faced the sad spectacle. The first thing they did was to protect the sacred relics, the remains of the temples and the broken statues, burying them in cavities on the rock of the Acropolis. They stayed there for many centuries, until the archaeological excavations brought them back to light at the end of the 19th century. The wrath of the Persians has been traced indelibly, as proven by the marks of fire and violent blows which are visible to this day.

The Athenians started to rebuild their city. They fortified Athens and the port of Piraeus in no time. On the Acropolis they reinforced the existing fortification with a new wall, on the north and south sides. On the northern wall they used debris from the destroyed Archaic sanctuaries, so that the memories of the destruction would be alive forever. The temples, however, remained derelict for about thirty years.

In the middle of the 5th cent. BC, after the conclusion of a peace treaty with the Persians and the Spartans, and the transferal of the fund of the omnipotent First Athenian League from Delos to Athens, new conditions are set, when the lead of the city is within the hands of Pericles. The Athenian leading statesman envisions the rise of democratic Athens not only into a political but also into an economic super-power and into a top intellectual and artistic center through a magnificent building program.
This inspired plan focused around the construction of the magnificent monuments on the Rock of the Acropolis.

CREDITS

Directorate of Archaeological Museums, Exhibitions & Educational Programs
Acropolis Museum
Ephorate of Antiquities of the City of Athens
National Archaeological Museum

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