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ATHENS: The Arch of Hadrian

The Arch of Hadrian is a monumental gateway resembling – in some respects - a Roman triumphal arch. It was erected by the Athenians north-west of the Temple of Zeus and spanned an ancient road from the center of Athens, Greece, to the complex of structures on the eastern side of the city that included the Temple of Olympian Zeus.

It is believed that the arch was built to celebrate the arrival of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and also to honour him for his many benefactions to the city.

It is not certain who commissioned the arch, although it is probable that the citizens of Athens or another Greek group were responsible for its construction and design. 

There were two inscriptions on Hadrian's arch, facing in opposite directions, naming both Theseus and Hadrian as founders of Athens.

On the west side:

This is Athens the ancient city of Theseus

On the east side:

This is the city of Hadrian not of Theseus

While it is clear that the inscriptions honour Hadrian, it is uncertain whether they refer to the city as a whole or to the city in two parts: one old and one new. 

The early idea, however, that the arch marked the line of the ancient city wall, and thus the division between the old and the new regions of the city, has been shown to be false by further excavation.

The entire monument is made of Pentelic marble, from Mt. Pentelikon, 18.2km north-east of the arch. Pentelic marble was used for the Parthenon and many other notable structures in Athens, although its quality can vary significantly.

In 1778 the triumphal arch was incorporated into the eastern section of the Turkish fortification known as 'Haseki Wall', at which time was converted into a gate, then known as the 'Vasilopoulos Gate' or 'Kamarophorta'.

The Arch of Hadrian is located just 325m south-east of the Acropolis as is easily seen from this vantage point.

For related articles click onto:
ATHENS: How to get to Athens City from Athens International Airport
ATHENS: The Arch of Hadrian
ATHENS: The Parthenon
GREEK HISTORY: Who was Archimedes?Photos are all mine

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures and interesting story! I really have a soft spot for this city. I like long walks around ancient sights and modern houses in Athens (like that they keep them in style) Look forward to many times when I come back there