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Petit Futé's opinion on OLD AGORA

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History. The Agora is certainly the centre of any large Greek city: it is here that political decisions are made, prisoners are tried and shops are also set up. Initially a simple esplanade, the Agora of Athens was gradually enriched with colonnaded porticoes where citizens could refresh themselves. It took the form we know it today in the 6th century BC. The buildings then lined the site on its western side, but were destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. During the rest of the5th century, the Athenians rebuilt their Agora and decorated it with other buildings to the north and south. Shortly after 450 BC, construction began on the Temple of Hephaestus, better known as Theseion, the one you see still standing overlooking the entire site. The 4th century is marked by great building efforts, but it is only in the 2nd century BC that the colonnades (portico or stoa) that surrounded the Agora were added to it, such as the Attalos portico, rebuilt by the American School of Archaeology to house the museum of the Agora site. In 86 BC, the sack of Athens by the Romans of Sylla seriously damaged the buildings south of the Agora. Around 15 B.C., Agrippa had the Odeon built along the axis of the central square, and the temples of the Attica countryside were also dismantled and rebuilt on the Agora site, in particular the temple of Ares. In the 2nd century AD other buildings were constructed, such as the Library of Pantainos, the Nymphaeum and the Basilica. In 267 AD, the Heruli, barbarians from the north, sacked Athens. Stones were then torn from the monuments to build a wall around the Agora, the sophists built luxurious dwellings on the northern slopes of the Areopagus, and the Palace of the Giants was built on the ruins of the Odeon. Towards the end of the 6th century AD, the site was abandoned and gradually covered with thick layers of alluvium. Around the year 1000, the church of the Holy Apostles was built here.

Guided tour of the site. We propose you a guided tour of the Agora site, which starts from the southern entrance, i.e. the closest to the Acropolis. You enter the site by following the ancient Panathenaean Way, where a huge procession started from the Ceramics to reach the Erechtheion on the Acropolis by crossing the Agora by the Sacred Way. You can also see the traces of the marble paving that covered the road as well as the deep marks probably left by the passage of the chariots. On your right, before entering the actual site, a series of shops sheltered by a colonnade, on the other side of the road is the south-eastern temple whose deity is unknown. It is known, however, that these columns were recovered from the temple of Athena of Sounion. After passing through the gate of the site, you will see on your left, near the small church of the Holy Apostles, the foundations of the public fountain of the southeast, dating from the 6th century BC.

We suggest that you turn left to walk along the remains of the south portico of the Agora. This vast group of colonnades consisted of a first intermediate portico that framed, with a second portico further south, a vast rectangular square. To the west of this was a square building that served as a court, although inscriptions found on the site tell us that sessions were held outside under the colonnades. Adjacent to the court, known as the Heliée, is a square paved pit which is the remains of a water clock or clepsydra and probably dates from the 4th century BC.

Continuing westwards past the fountain, you will come across a building that may have been the prison of Socrates, as well as busts of prisoners, one of which may represent Socrates himself.

We now suggest that you go up north of the site, passing at the foot of the rocky promontory on which stands the temple of Hephaestus. You will then pass the western buildings of the Agora, the oldest of the site. You first pass in front of the circular base of the tholos. Built around 460 B.C., it served as headquarters and canteen for the Prytanes, the presidency committee of the Council of 500, or boulê. It also housed a set of standard weights and measures. Council meetings were held in the building whose foundations can be guessed behind the tholos: the bouleutêrion. The archives of the Council were kept on papyrus, parchments or in marble, in another building built next to the tholos: the metrôon. You will recognise it by the Ionic portico in the front, which dates from the 2nd century BC. In front of the metrôon, on the other side of the path provided for the visit, stands a large rectangular platform surrounded by a restored balustrade. This is the monument to the eponymous Heroes. In the middle of the balustrade stood the bronze statues of ten legendary heroes who had given their names to the ten tribes or political districts in the territory of Athens. Behind them, you can see the base of a huge altar that was to be dedicated to Zeus.

Continuing northwards, you pass in front of what remains of a small Ionic temple dedicated to Apollo Patrôos, built in 340-330 B.C., and then in front of a more imposing building composed of two wings: this is the portico of Zeus Eleutherios, god of Liberty. It was here that all the figures who contributed to the freedom of the city were venerated. Still to the right of this building stands the royal portico, which is smaller than its neighbour. It was probably built around 460 B.C., certainly first to house and display the laws enacted by Solon. It then served as the headquarters of one of the principal magistrates of Athens: the Archon King. It was here that Socrates came to answer the interrogation that was to lead to his death sentence.

Now we invite you to take a closerlook at the wonderful temple that stands above your heads: the temple of Hephaestus, better known as Theseus. The sculptures of the two pediments have been lost, but fragments of the Doric frieze and the metopes that illustrate the work of Heracles and the exploits of Theseus, from whom he took his nickname, remain. Let us now look at the buildings in the centre of the Agora. Going along the wall of the railway line to the east, we discover the corner of what was once the altar of the Twelve Gods, the rest of the monument being behind the dividing wall. Founded in 522 BC by Pisistrate the Younger, this sanctuary was dedicated to the twelve gods of Olympus and served as a landmark for measuring distances from Athens.

Let us now turn to the colossal statues that stand in the middle of the site: they represent newts (half-man, half-fish) and giants (half-man, half-snakes). These statues were taken from the façade of Agrippa's odeon, which has now disappeared. Passing between the giants, you come to the ruins of the odeon itself. Its architecture was remarkable for the absence of columns inside, which is probably the first cause of the collapse of its roof around 170 BC. Today you can admire the marble paved scene. The Heruli destroyed the Odeon in 267 AD and the Athenians used the stones of the building to provide the city with a new fortification. The cement foundations that now cover the old odeon square belonged to a large architectural complex known as the Palace of the Giants.

We now suggest you visit the stoa of Attale which now houses the Agora Museum. This portico owes its name to King Attalus II, king of Pergamum from 159 to 138 BC, a classic gesture of gratitude for a prince of Attica sent to Athens in his youth to receive a proper education.

The stoa consists of two floors with 21 rooms each. These rooms were occupied by shops but also by administrative offices.

4.3/5 (18 notice)
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Information on OLD AGORA

Every day from 8am to 8pm in summer. Ticket: 8 € (or 30 € combined with the Acropolis and other sites, valid for 5 days)

Members' reviews on OLD AGORA

18 reviews
4.3/5
Value for money
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FCoheur
5/5
Visited in march 2019
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Une belle balade au calme
Moins impressionnant que le site de l'Acropole, celui de l'Agora offre une plus grande balade en plein centre ville et un grand bol d'air frais, d'autant plus qu'il y a souvent moins de touristes. Il faut s'y balader tranquillement, découvrir les ruines et les temples qui s'y trouvent et ressentir l'Histoire qui a traversé ce lieu. La visite du lieu est comprise dans le pass d'Athènes, autant en profiter !
Natraops
4/5
Visited in may 2019
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Une très jolie visite
Bien que ce ne soit pas forcément le premier lieu que l'on penserait visiter à Athènes, il vaut pourtant largement la balade. Un peu plus ombragée et plus tranquille que la bouillante Acropole, c'est un autre beau voyage à travers l'Antiquité proposé par cette belle ville. Vaut la peine d'y penser!
maca84
4/5
Visited in september 2019
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Très bien
L'ancienne agora est vraiment un joli lieu , et moins touristique que l'Acropole ce qui est agréable. Plusieurs bâtiments à visiter, de belles maquettes qui permettent de se rendre compte du faste d'antan et des sculptures.
nownie
4/5
Visited in may 2019
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Moins de touristes qu'à l'Acropole
Un espace agréable moins visité que l'Acropole même s'il fait partie des sites les plus visités d'Athènes. Des vues différentes de l'Acropole depuis les jardins. Très agréable.
etoiles78
5/5
Visited in july 2019
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Joli!
Pas mal de choses à voir dans l'agora, il faut y passer au moins 1h si on veut prendre le temps de flâner entre les ruines. Vous avez un pass qui réunit l'Acropole avec l'agora donc c'est l'occasion de visiter l'agora. Très jolie visite!
cammmz
5/5
Visited in april 2018
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Originality
Site historique emblématique d'Athènes, situé à proximité de l'Acropole. L'Agora est très grand avec beaucoup de chose à voir il faut prévoir un minimum 1h30. Le site est ombragé et il est agréable de s'y balader.
LukaOudini
4/5
Visited in august 2017
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Contrairement à l'Acropole, l'Ancienne Agora est un lieu paisible où il fait bon s'y promener. Je fus impressionnée par le niveau de conservation du temple d'Héphaïstéion, un de mes coup de coeur. Quant à la Stoa, c'est une édifice neuf qui abrite un musée.
cheguemanu
4/5
Visited in january 2018
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L'ancien centre de la ville est un lieu où il fait bon flâner entre les ruines. Des ruines certes, mais pas que, car sur ce site historique se trouve également le temple d'Héphaïstos qui impressionne par sa taille certes, mais aussi et surtout par son état de conservation.
En se baladant ici, on imagine facilement l'animation qui pouvait y régner et ce quelques dizaines de siècles auparavant...
Dommage que lors de notre visite, le site fermait à 15h...
Nenelle74
3/5
Visited in january 2018
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Un peu déçue par ce site. Il est intéressant de s'y balader mais il y a très peu d'explications et ça manque!! Droit d'entrée compris dans le billet pour l'Acropole
drusa
5/5
Visited in january 2018
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L'intérêt principal du site est l'exceptionnel temple dit le Thésaion qui est très bien conservé, mais le parc contient plusieurs statues et ruines.
arwenbriseis
3/5
Visited in july 2017
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L'agora grecque est un site antique dominé par le Theseion, très beau temple bien conservé. Le site qui offre encore une fois un point de vue splendide sur l’Acropole. Il fait bon de s'y promener. Une belle église de style orthodoxe est également présente. En été, bon à savoir, il y a des distributeurs (payants) d'eau.
cazoocazoocazoo
5/5
Visited in august 2017
Value for money
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Originality
Le centre de la vie politique et économique durant l'Antiquité est très intéressant à visiter. Le temple d’Héphaïstos est particulièrement bien conservé.
Saffrenov
4/5
Visited in july 2017
Value for money
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Originality
Malgré la chaleur de juillet, il était très agréable de se promener dans l'ancienne Agora, où les ruines antiques se mèlent à la végétation. Le temple d'Héphaistos qui surplombe l'Agora est particulièrement bien conservé, et le Musée est à la fois rapide et sympa à visiter.
fc25
5/5
Visited in march 2016
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L’Agora fut l’un des lieux les plus fréquentés de l’antique cité grecque. Ce monument datant du 6ème siècle av. J-C. eut un rôle important dans la formation de la civilisation grecque. Siège de la vie publique de la Grèce Antique, l’Agora était à la fois un lieu sacré, lieu de commerce, mais aussi lieu de décisions politiques, de discutions philosophiques et éducatives. Tous les citoyens grecs de l’époque s’y retrouvaient, des philosophes tels que Platon, aux fonctionnaires, en passant par les acteurs politiques d’athènes. A l’époque se tenait également sur cette place le marché principal de la ville.
AnneSo60
4/5
Visited in april 2016
Value for money
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Originality
L'entrée à 8€ par adulte est raisonnable. Il y a un des plus beaux temples de Grèce. Très bien conservé. Il vaut le détour. Il y a également une jolie petite église avec de magnifiques fresques. Je recommande ce site.

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