The monumental gateway to the Acropolis, the Propylaea was built under the general direction of the Athenian leader Pericles. The gateway faces the strait of Salamis, site of the critical naval victory against the Persians in 479 BCE. According to Plutarch, the Propylaea was designed by the architect Mnesicles, but we know nothing more about him. Construction began in 437 BC and was terminated in 432, with the building still unfinished due to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War. Famous for its splendor and expense, the Propylaea was constructed of white Pentelic marble accented by gray Eleusinian marble or limestone. Blocks were bonded with iron clamps set in lead. The central building presents a standard six-columned Doric façade, with columns echoing the proportions of those of the Parthenon. There is no surviving evidence for sculpture in the pediments. The central passageway was the culmination of the Sacred Way, which led to the Acropolis from Eleusis. The gateway marks the boundary of the sacred space of the Acropolis, barred to those ritually unclean. The western wing on the north (to the left as one enters the Acropolis) was famous in antiquity as the location of paintings of important Greek battles. The wing on the south is much smaller, apparently due to the need to respect the Mycenaean fortification wall still standing from 1000 years earlier. The Propylaea survived intact through the Greek, Roman and Byzantine periods. During the period of the Duchy of Athens, the columns were walled off, and it served as the palace of the Acciaioli family, who ruled the duchy from 1388 to 1458. It was severely damaged by an explosion of a powder magazine in 1656. A Frankish tower, erected on the south wing, was pulled down in 1874. The Propylaea has been partly restored in a process ongoing since 1984 under the direction of Tasos Tanoulas.
[Judith Binder: Propylaia: 437-432 B.C.: IG I³ 462-466; SEG_50 67 (2000); Paus. 1.22.4 + Paus. 1.22.6 + Paus. 1.28.4; represented on Athenian bronze coins, 3rd c. A.C., e.g. M. J. Price, “Architecture on ancient coins,” The British Museum Yearbook 1 (1976) 42 fig. 80 (BM 1922.3-17.82); Bundgaard, J. A. 1957, passim; Tanoulas, T. 1994a, 52-57; idem 1994b, 181-183, idem, 1997, 2 vols.; W. B. Dinsmoor and W. B. Dinsmoor Jr., The Propylaia to the Athenian Acropolis: Volume II. the Classical Building, Princeton, 2004 [a work ignoring the publications of T. Tanoulas to its detriment]
Cuttings for monument bases in niches in the west front: G. P. Stevens, “The Periclean Entrance Court of the Acropolis at Athens,” Hesperia 5 (1936) 446-447, fig. 2 G, H
Propylaia northwest chamber with paintings, the so-called Pinakotheke: Paus. 1.22.6 (oikema); Dinsmoor Jr. W. B. 1982,18-33, figs. 1-7; [implausibly] restored as a dining room, Travlos, J. 1971, 482, figs. 614, 618-619; [the modern name “Pinakotheke” having somehow acquired an ancient patina has become entrenched in the terminology] ]Wikidata ID: Q3407649
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