Outstanding universal value
The Acropolis of Athens is the most striking and complete ancient Greek monumental complex still in existence in our time. It is located on a hill of medium height (156 m) which rises in the Athens basin. Its overall dimensions are approximately 170 m by 350 m. The hill is rocky and steep on all sides except the west side, and has an extensive and almost flat summit. Strong fortification walls have surrounded the top of the Acropolis for over 3,300 years. The first fortification wall was built in the 13th century BC and surrounded the residence of the local Mycenaean ruler. In the 8th century BC, the Acropolis gradually acquired a religious character with the establishment of the cult of Athena, patron goddess of the city. The sanctuary reached its peak during the Archaic period (mid-6th century to early 5th century BC). In the 5th century BC, the Athenians, buoyed by their victory over the Persians, carried out an ambitious construction program under the direction of the great statesman Pericles, including a large number of monuments including the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Propylaea and the temple. by Athena Nike. The monuments were made by an exceptional group of architects (like Iktinos, Kallikrates, Mnesikles) and sculptors (like Phidias, Alkamenes, Agorakritos), who transformed the rocky hill into a unique complex, heralding the emergence of thought Classical Greek and art. On this hill were born democracy, philosophy, theater, freedom of expression and speech, which still constitute today the intellectual and spiritual foundation of the contemporary world and its values. The monuments of the Acropolis, having survived for nearly twenty-five centuries wars, explosions, bombings, fires, earthquakes, pillaging, interventions and modifications, have adapted to the different uses and to the civilizations, myths and religions which have flourished in Greece over time.
Criterion (i): The Athenian Acropolis is the supreme expression of the adaptation of architecture to a natural site. This large composition of perfectly balanced massive structures creates a monumental landscape of unique beauty, composed of a complete series of architectural masterpieces from the 5th century BC: the Parthenon of Iktinos and Kallikrates with the collaboration of the sculptor Phidias (447-432); the Propylaea of Mnesikles (437-432); the Temple of Athena Nike of Mnesikles and Kallikrates (427-424); and Erechtheion (421-406).
Criterion (ii): The monuments of the Athenian Acropolis exerted an exceptional influence, not only in Greco-Roman Antiquity, during which they were considered exemplary models, but also in contemporary times. All over the world, neoclassical monuments were inspired by all the monuments of the Acropolis.
Criterion (iii): From myth to institutionalized worship, the Athenian Acropolis, through its precision and diversity, provides unique testimony to the religions of ancient Greece. It is the sacred temple from which the fundamental legends about the city were born. From the 6th century BC, myths and beliefs gave birth to temples, altars and votives corresponding to an extreme diversity of cults, which brought us the Athenian religion in all its richness and complexity. Athena was worshiped as the goddess of the city (Athena Polias); as the goddess of war (Athena Promachos); as the goddess of victory (Athena Nike); as the patron goddess of crafts (Athena Ergane), etc. Most of her identities are glorified in the main temple dedicated to her, the Parthenon, the temple of the patron goddess.
Criterion (iv): The Athenian Acropolis is an exceptional example of an architectural ensemble illustrating significant historical phases since the 16th century BC. First of all, it was the Mycenaean Acropolis (late Helladic civilization, 1600-1100 BC) which included the royal residence and was protected by the characteristic Mycenaean fortification. The Acropolis monuments are distinctly unique structures that evoke the ideals of the classical 5th century BC and represent the pinnacle of ancient Greek architectural development.
Criterion (vi): The Acropolis is directly and concretely associated with events and ideas that have never disappeared throughout history. Its monuments are still living testimonies to the achievements of classical Greek politicians (e.g. Themistocles, Pericles) who led the city to the establishment of democracy; the thought of the Athenian philosophers (e.g. Socrates, Plato, Demosthenes); and the works of architects (e.g. Iktinos, Kallikrates, Mnesikles) and artists (e.g. Phidias, Agorakritus, Alkamenes). These monuments are the testimony of a precious part of the cultural heritage of humanity.
The Acropolis of Athens contains within its boundaries all the key attributes which reflect the outstanding universal value of the property, as an ensemble of unique splendor in excellent condition. The perfection of ancient construction techniques ensured the resistance of monuments to natural forces over time. Despite the inevitable damage of time, they show their beauty and transmit their inestimable artistic and historical value, preserving all the characteristics that directly and concretely associate them with the events and ideas of democracy and philosophy. Inevitably, the vicissitudes of history between the 5th century BC and the present day have caused significant damage which is now being successfully resolved thanks to ongoing restoration and conservation work, which increases both stability and readability monuments.
The authenticity of the Acropolis Hill, crowned with masterpieces of classical Greek art and architecture, is well preserved. In order to maintain the authenticity and structural integrity of the monuments, an integrated intervention began in 1975 and continues today. The work is based on clear theoretical and scientific foundations and follows the principles of the Venice Charter. Interventions are limited to what is strictly necessary and respect the old structural system, while remaining consistent with the principle of reversibility. Additionally, the techniques and tools used for the restoration work are similar to those of ancient craftsmen, while the white marble used to complement the eroded architectural features is quarried from the same mountain as in ancient times (Mount Penteli). The restorations are therefore entirely compatible with the original parts of the monuments.
Protection and management requirements
The Acropolis has functioned as an archaeological site since 1833, shortly after the establishment of the modern Greek state. Today, the property is strongly protected by the provisions of Law No. 3028/2002 on the “Protection of antiquities and cultural heritage in general”. Furthermore, the Acropolis and its surroundings, which constitute monuments in itself, are protected by legislative decrees (ministerial decrees F01/12970/503/25.2.82 concerning the designation of its buffer zone; and F43/7027/425/29.1.2004 concerning the designation of the peripheral zone of the city of Athens and imposing compulsory control before the issuance of any building or development permit on its territory). The fact that the buffer zone of the property is itself a protected archaeological zone, as well as the implementation of a strict legal framework – in particular for the urban fabric of the historic center of Athens since 2002 – and the intense monitoring by competent Ephorate, ensure that development pressures are properly taken into account. Special protection is provided by Presidential Decree No. 24/2007, which declares the Acropolis area a no-fly zone.
The property is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs, through the Ephorate of Antiquities of Athens, its competent regional department, which is responsible for the security and protection of the site, as well as the establishment of a site and visitor management system. Furthermore, the Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs implements the legislative decrees concerning the safeguarding of the property and its peripheral area (which corresponds to the limits of the ancient city of Athens and its surroundings) and ensures the visual integrity of the site. Especially for the restoration, protection and monitoring of the property, an advisory body, the Committee for the Restoration and Conservation of the Acropolis Monuments, was founded in 1975 and is responsible for planning, directing and supervising the interventions. In 1999, the creation of the Ecropolis Restoration Service made it possible to increase the academic and technical staff and made possible the immense development of restoration work, under the supervision of the said Committee and in cooperation with the competent Ephorate. The extensive research program and the methodology implemented are innovative in this field and serve as a reference for other restoration projects. Financial resources for the work on the site come from the state budget as well as European Union funds.
Particular attention was paid to the accessibility of the site, the trails and the facilities intended for visitors, particularly people with disabilities. In addition, emergency plans for visitor safety and scientific studies for the protection of the site, such as monitoring seismic activity, are underway.
The New Acropolis Museum (inaugurated in 2009), in which most of the original sculptural and/or architectural pieces of the monuments are preserved, the ongoing project “Unification of the archaeological sites of Athens”, as well as the long-term project In the long term, the conservation work will improve the protection and enhancement of the property.