In the south-east corner of the Acropolis is the Acropolis Museum, which is an ideal place for of the way in which Classical sculpture developed. Of particular interest are the statuary from the pediments of some of the small Archaic treasuries (or houses) which stood on the Acropolis (Heracles with the Hydra of Lerna, lions devouring a bull, the Apotheosis of Heracles on Olympus, the Olive Pediment, a three-bodied demon and Herakles wrestling with Triton) and the sculptures from the pediment of the Archaic temple of Athena, showing the Battle of the Giants (6th century BC). The Acropolis Museum has an extensive collection of Kores, those works so characteristic of Archaicart (the Peplos kore, the Lyon Kore, the Chios kore, the kore of Antenor). Among the works of sixth century art, special places are occupied by the Moschophoros, the Rampin horse-man and a statue of Athena, seated, which was executed by the famous sculptor Endoeus. The period of the severe order (early fifth century BC) is represented by the Blonde Youth, the Boy of Critias, the Mourning Athena, and the kore by the sculptor Euthydicus. The most important exhibits in the Museum are, of course, the sculptures from the Parthenon, and in particular the relief slabs from the Ionic frieze. These are works of unique value, which constitute the Classical ideal at its absolute peak. In the last room are four of the six Caryatids from the Erechtheum.
The important monuments of the Acropolis are not confined to the top of the rock: some of the major finds have been made on its south slopes. Here stood the sanctuary of Dionysus of Eleutherae, with the Theatre of Dionysus where the great ancient dramatists first presented their works (fifth/fourth century BC: the construction of the first stone theatre; thereafter successive stages of conversion and repair until Roman times). To the east of the theatre, a few traces have survived of the Odeum of Pericles, a building of unusual circular design where musical contests were held (447-442 BC). To the west, archaeologists have uncovered the Asclepium of Athens, which was inaugurated in 420 BC. Nearby were two choragic monuments (those of Thrasyllus) and Nicias – 319 BC), rected by the sponsors who had been victorious in drama contests. Many more of these choregist monuments stood along what is called the Street of the Tripods, sections of which 0 with the superb choragic monument of Lysicrates (334 BC) – have been discovered in Plaka. On the south side of the Acropolis there was also a long stoa erected at the expense of King Eumenes II of Pergamum (2nd century BC). The imposing structure called the Odeum of Herodes Atticus (160-174 AD), dedicated to the memory of its founder’s wife, Regilla, stands nearby; in the summer months, it is still a venue for artistic events.
The remains of the ancient Agora of Athens, which was the political and administrative centre of the city and the focus of all its social, commercial and religious activities, have been excavated on the north side of the Acropolis. Thie most northerly structure in the Agora is the Poikile (painted) Stoa, whose foundations are actually outside the fenced archaeological site. It was built around 460 BC and ornamented with works by some of the most famous painters of the time, including Polygnotus and Panaenus. The monuments on the west side of the archaeological site include: the Royal stoa (6th century BC), headquarters of the Archon-King, the Stoa of Zeus (5th century BC), the Ionic temple of Apollo Patro’s (4th century BC), the Metro n, or temple where Rhea-Cybele, mother of the gods, was worshipped and where the city archives were kept (2nd century BC), the Bouleuterium (late 54th century BC), and the Tholos, a circular building for administrative and, propably, religious uses (5th century BC). Nearby, on the hill of Colonnus in the Agora, was built in the mid-fifth century BC the monumental Temple of Hephaestus and Athena Erganes (patrons of artisans), usually-though mistakenly – called the Theseum. This is a Doric peripteral temple with superb sculptural ornamentation (on the pediments: the Battle of the Centaurs to the east, the Fall of Crete on the west; the feats of Theseus and Heracles on the friezes). Inside were kept statues of the deities worshipped in the temple, by the sculptor Alcamenes. In the triangular main square of the Agora, bounded by the Panathenaic Way on the west side, stood an altar to the cult of the twelve gods (522/1 BC), the Doric temple of Ares (5th century BC), the Precinct of the Eponymous Heroes with the statues of the heroes who gave their names to the ten tribes of Attica (mid-4th century BC), the Altar of Zeus of the Agora, and the Odeum, which was constructed in 15 BC by Agrippa, son-in-law of Augustus (the building was modified in the second and fifth centuries AD, and became the Gymnasium of the Giants). The south side of the Agora was occupied by two stoas of the second century AD (the Middle Stoa and Stoa II), the premise of the Helaea, the most important court of Athens after the fifth century BC, the Enneakrounos, or nine-spouted fountain (dating from the time of Pisistratus), and a Nymphaeum which was a gift from Hadrian. To the east was the Stoa of Attalus, donated by Attalus II, King of Pergamum (150 BC). The Stoa has been reconstructed and houses an archaeological collection, among the most notable exhibits in which are a cult statue of Apollo Patro’s by the sculptor Euphranor (4th century BC), important prehistoric finds, funerary offerings from Geometric burials, inscriptions, items connected with the military organization and public the of Athens, and vases in both the black and red-figure orders.
On the north-western outskirts of the city of Athens was the Kerameikos, the cemetery which contained the tombs of private citizens and those who had fallen in battle. This must have been an awe-inspiring place throughout the period when it was in use, for the tombs were adorned with outstanding art-works: statues and stelae. Casts of these now stand on the site itself, while the originals are kept in the Kerameikos Museum, together with the funerary offerings from inside the tombs. Though the kerameikos ran the walls of Athens, which divided the site into the Inner and Outer Kerameikos. The two main gates, the Dipylon and the Sacred Way, which ran west to Eleusis, while that which used the Dipylon was simply called the Dromos – the road. The building known as the Pompeium, between the two gates, was the starting-place for the Panathenaic Procession, which followed the Dromos into the Agora before winding up to the Acropolis. Some remains of the Pompeium and of the gates have survived in the Kerameikos site, together with sections of the city wall in which the successive phases of repairs can be seen (479/8 BC, 394BC, 253-60 AD, 6th century AD).
To the north-west of the Acropolis rises the rocky hill of the Areopagus, which after the seventh century BC was the seat of the administrative and judicial body of the same name. it was on the Areopagus that St Paul preached to the Athenians in 49/50 AD. To the west of the Sacred Rock was the Pnux, where the ecclesia of the deme (that is, theassembly of the people) met after the sixth century BC. Further to the south was the Hill of the Muses, known today as Philopappos Hill from the funerary monument to the Roman Gaius Julius Antiochus Philopappus which was erected on its summit in 115 AD. Another nearby hill was dedicated to the Nymphs, and it was there that the Observatory of Athens was built in the nineteenth century.
The area by the bed of the Ilissus river is notable for one of the most striking monuments in Athens, the temple of Olympian Zeus. Work on this temple. In the Doric order, began in the time of the Pisistradis (6th century BC), but the structure was only completed – in the Corinthian order – under Hadrian (131/2 AD). In order to welcome their benefactor the Roman Emperor to the inauguration of the temple he had finally finished, the Athenians erected the triumphal Arch of Hadrian; it still stands there today, beside one of the busiest streets in Athens.
In the Roman period (1st century BC), a new agora was built to the east of the ancient commercial area; this is also known as the Forum of Caesar and Augustus, or just as the Roman Forum. The Roman Forum occupied a rectangular area surrounded by Ionic porticoes. Further to the east, the astronomer Andronicus Cyrrhestes erected a structure which was simultaneously a water-click, a weathervane and a planetarium and which bore reliefs of the eight winds personified on its exterior (the Tower of the Winds, 1st century AD). To the north of the Roman Forum was the Library of Hadrian, a monumental building surrounded by porticoes. Here there were luxurious reading-rooms and lecture halls, and in the courtyard was a pond around which the scholars could take their ease.