The parthenon – interesting facts

Probably the only structure that has been blown up and yet remains one of the world’s most beautiful buildings is the Parthenon on Acropolis hill overlooking Athens.

The rectangular structure – built in 447-432 BC of white marble from Mt. Pentelicus, 11 miles from Athens – is 237 feet long by 110 feet wide by 60 feet high. In the middle of the building was once a two-room enclosure. One room housed an ivory and gold statue of Athena, the patron goddess of Athens, and the other was the treasury. The building was designed by Ictinus and Callicrates, Greek architects, and was embellished with sculpture by Phidias.

When Greece became Christian, the Parthenon became a church. When the Turks captured the city in the mid 1400s, it was made into a mosque.

Then the Venetians attacked Athens in 1687, and unfortunately the Turks had been using the Parthenon to store gunpowder. It exploded, destroying the central section.

The Parthenon is an excellent example of the “column and lintel” construction method invented by the Egyptians and improved upon by the Greeks. The columns are the posts, and the lintels are the horizontal blocks that fit across the top of the columns.

Column and lintel construction allowed designers to create huge, awe-inspiring covered structures, but the need for many columns could make the interior of these buildings look almost like forests.

The Greeks most notable addition to this construction method was artistic. They created three decorative column “capitals,” or tops, the simple Doric, the more slender and decorative Ionic and the highly ornate Corinthian. The Parthenon uses Doric capitals.



The parthenon – interesting facts