The Minoan civilization on Crete and the Mycenean civilization on the mainland emerged along the Aegean seashores. Later, city-states arose across the Greek peninsula and spread to the Black Sea, South Italy, and Asia Minor, resulting in unprecedented cultural booms expressed in architecture, drama, science, and philosophy and nurtured in Athens under democratic conditions. In a series of battles, Athens and Sparta led the way in repelling the Persian Empire. Both were eventually eclipsed by Thebes and then Macedon, with the latter, under Alexander the Great’s leadership, uniting and leading the Greek world to victory over the Persians, ushering in the Hellenistic era, which was only partially ended two centuries later with the establishment of Roman rule over Greek lands in 146 BC.
The Parthenon is a Greek goddess Athena temple built on the Athenian Acropolis in the 5th century BC. It is the most important surviving Classical Greek structure and the pinnacle of the Doric order’s development. Its decorative sculptures are considered to be one of Greek art’s pinnacles. The Parthenon is regarded as one of the world’s most significant cultural monuments and an enduring symbol of ancient Greece and Athenian democracy. A restoration and reconstruction program is currently underway by the Greek Ministry of Culture. The Parthenon replaced an older Athena temple known as the Pre-Parthenon, destroyed during the Persian invasion of 480 BC. The Parthenon was used as a treasury, as were most Greek temples, and was once the Delian League’s (later Athenian) treasury. In the sixth century AD, the Parthenon became a Christian church dedicated to Mary.
It was converted into a mosque in the early 1460s after the Ottoman conquest, and it even had a minaret. Venetian bombardment ignited an Ottoman ammunition dump inside the building on September 26, 1687. Extinction damaged the Parthenon and its sculptures. With Ottoman permission, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, removed some of the surviving sculptures in 1806. The Elgin or Parthenon Marbles, as they are now known, were sold in 1816 to the British Museum in London, where they are now on display. The Greek government is dedicated to bringing the sculptures back to Greece, but there has been no success so far.
The Acropolis of Athens is the world’s most famous Acropolis. Although there are many other acropolises in Greece, the Acropolis of Athens is so well-known that it is referred to as “The Acropolis.” On March 26, 2007, the Acropolis formally declared the most important monument on the European Cultural Heritage list. The Acropolis is a flat-topped rock in Athens that rises 150 meters (490 feet) and is about 3 hectares. After the first Athenian king, Kekrops or Cecrops, a legendary serpent-man, it was also known as Cecropia.