Temple of Hephaestus (Athens)

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Temple of Hephaestus, previously known as the Theseion or "Theseum" erroneously, is an exceptionally preserved ancient Greek temple devoted to Hephaestus. It stands mostly undamaged to this day. This temple follows the Doric peripteral style and is situated on the north-western side of the Agora of Athens, atop the Agoraios Kolonos hill.

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Between the seventh century CE and 1834 CE, it functioned as the Greek Orthodox church of Saint George Akamates. Its remarkable state of preservation can be attributed to its diverse history of utilization.


circa 415 BCE

Following the battle of Plataea, the Greeks made a solemn oath to refrain from reconstructing their sanctuaries, which had been destroyed by the Persians during their invasion of Greece. Instead, they chose to leave the sanctuaries in ruins as a lasting reminder of the war. The Athenians, focusing their resources on rebuilding their economy and consolidating their influence in the Delian League, pursued a different path. When Pericles assumed leadership, he envisioned an ambitious plan to transform Athens into the epicenter of Greek power and culture. The construction of this grand project commenced in 449 BCE, although some experts believe it took nearly three decades to complete, as funds and labor were redirected towards the construction of the Parthenon.

Between 445-440 BCE, the western frieze of the structure was finished, coinciding with the addition of the statue of Athena Hephaistia to the shrine adjacent to the cult statue of Hephaestus. Scholars deduce that the eastern frieze, western pediment, and certain modifications to the building's interior were executed around 435-430 BCE, primarily based on stylistic analysis. It was not until the Peace of Nicias (421-415 BCE) that the roof was finalized, and the cult images were installed.

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