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(əkrŏp`əlĭs) [Gr.,=high point of the city], elevated, fortified section of various ancient Greek cities.


Acropolis of Athens, a hill c.260 ft (80 m) high, with a flat oval top c.500 ft (150 m) wide and 1,150 ft (350 m) long, was a ceremonial site beginning in the Neolithic period and was walled before the 6th cent. B.C. by the Pelasgians. Devoted to religious rather than defensive purposes, the area was adorned during the time of CimonCimon
, d. 449 B.C., Athenian general and statesman; son of Miltiades. He fought at Salamis and shared command (with Aristides) of the fleet sent to rescue the Asian Greek cities from Persian domination. From 478 to 477 he helped Aristides form the Delian League.
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 and PericlesPericles
, c.495–429 B.C., Athenian statesman. He was a member of the Alcmaeonidae family through his mother, a niece of Cleisthenes. He first came to prominence as an opponent of the Areopagus (462) and as one of the prosecutors of Cimon, whom he replaced in influence.
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 with some of the world's greatest architectural and sculptural monuments.

The top was reached by a winding processional path at the west end, where the impressive Propylaea (see under propylaeumpropylaeum
, in Greek architecture, a monumental entrance to a sacred enclosure, group of buildings, or citadel. A roofed passage terminated by a row of columns at each end formed the usual type. Known examples include those at Athens, Olympia, Eleusis, and Priene.
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) stood. From there, the Sacred Way led past a colossal bronze statue of Athena (called Athena Promachus) and the site of the old temple of Athena to the ParthenonParthenon
[Gr.,=the virgin's place], temple sacred to Athena, on the acropolis at Athens. Built under Pericles between 447 B.C. and 432 B.C., it is the culminating masterpiece of Greek architecture. Ictinus and Callicrates were the architects and Phidias supervised the sculpture.
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. To the north was the ErechtheumErechtheum
[for Erechtheus], Gr. Erechtheion, temple in Pentelic marble, on the Acropolis at Athens. One of the masterpieces of Greek architecture, it was constructed between c.421 B.C. and 405 B.C. to replace an earlier temple to Athena destroyed by the Persians.
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 and to the southwest the temple of Nike Apteros (Wingless Victory). On the southern slope were the Odeum of Herodes Atticus and the theater of Dionysus.

Although the Acropolis was laid waste by the Persians in 480 B.C. and was later further damaged by the Turks and others, remains of the Parthenon, Erechtheum, and Propylaea still stand. Many of its treasures are in the national museum of Greece, in Athens. Over the years, the Acropolis has suffered severely from pollution and from well-intentioned but badly executed attempts at repair. In 1975 the Greek government began a major restoration project. A number of works that were originally on the Acropolis have been moved to the New Acropolis Museum, which lies at the foot of the hill and opened in 2009.


See studies by R. J. Hopper (1971) and J. M. Hurwit (2000); Bernard Tschumi Architects, ed., The New Acropolis Museum (2009).


Elevated stronghold or group of buildings serving as a civic symbol: those of ancient Greek cities usually featured the temple of a deity, such as at Athens.


acropolis: Acropolis at Athens. A, Propylaea; B, Temple of Niké Apteros; C, Parthenon; D, Erechtheum; E, foundations of old Temple of Athena 6th cent. B.C.
1. The elevated stronghold of a Greek city, usually with the temple of the patron divinity.
2. (cap.) The Acropolis of Athens.
3. Any elevated group of buildings serving as a civic symbol.


the citadel of an ancient Greek city