The History of Athens
“Myrtis!” Delphi pushed her way through the crowds and tried to catch up with her friend.
The girl looked behind her, saw Delphi, and frowned.
“What? I’ve got to go up to the temple,” said Myrtis. Delphi tried to smile at her, but she was a bit out of breath from the climb, so it looked a bit scarier than she meant it to.
“I know. I’m coming with you!”
Myrtis narrowed her eyes at her. She’d known Delphi long enough to smell trouble when it came running up to her.
“Why? You’ve never wanted to before…” Myrtis said. That was true. Delphi never really thought about the Acropolis. It was just there, like the Sun and the sea and the mountains. She’d only just found out that not every city had one. Delphi ignored her question and set off walking again, following the path up towards the Propylaia, the gateway to the top of the Acropolis.
Both girls kept their mouths shut as they climbed the stairs, Delphi trying to look dignified and holy, and Myrtis trying to look like she didn’t know Delphi. They passed the tiny temple to Athena Nike on their right and walked through the archway. There was a priest standing under the archway who nodded at Myrtis and looked quizzically at Delphi. Luckily, he didn’t say anything. They walked past without a word.
Delphi grinned. She had made it in.
“Thanks, Myrtis.” Delphi whispered. “I won’t get in any trouble, I swear!” Myrtis took one last look at her and ran away as fast as possible.
The Acropolis: Fact box
The Acropolis is the name of the huge hill that sits in the middle of the city of the Athens. It was the site of many important buildings, including the Parthenon, the Erechtheion and the Theatre of Dionysus.
The Acropolis looks quite barren and rocky today, but back in ancient times it was a vast decorated fortress. It had walls around the edge, and the top was filled with temples and statues, many of which would have been brightly painted. It looks spectacular today – just imagine how spectacular it would have looked back then! One of them, a statue of Athena, was 9 metres tall and could be seen from the sea – and there was an even bigger one inside the Parthenon!
The Acropolis has served several important functions throughout its history. At times, it was a religious and cultural centre, but at other times it was more like a military fortress, where Athenians would run to when the rest of the city was invaded.
The buildings on the Acropolis have survived for over 2000 years – but not without a few incidents along the way! The site suffered major damage when, during Turkish rule in 1687, there was a massive explosion. Maybe it wasn’t the best place to keep gunpowder!
Ancient Athens Timeline
4000-3000 BC: During this time, a small town grew up around the hill of the Acropolis.
1250 BC: Around this time was the Trojan war, a major conflict between the Greeks and the city of Troy. It became part of Greek legend because of the writings of Homer.
621 BC: Draco established the first code of laws in the city.
594 BC: A leader named Solon changed the laws in Athens to begin the first democracy.
507 BC: Kleisthenes established the first full democracy in Athens.
490 BC: Athens won the Battle of Marathon during the wars with Persia.
480 BC: The Persians invaded Athens and destroyed the buildings on the Acropolis. However, the Greeks won a major sea battle and managed to defeat the Persian army a year later.
461 BC: Athens began many years of war with Sparta, another city in Greece.
432 BC: The Parthenon was completed on the Acropolis.
430 BC: A deadly plague killed many people in the city.
404 BC: Sparta finally defeated Athens, and tyrants briefly ruled the city. Democracy was reintroduced a year later.
399 BC: The philosopher Socrates was put on trial and executed.
380 BC: Plato established his Academy – the first ‘university’.
336 BC: Alexander the Great became king of Macedonia, before conquering most of Greece and much of the known world.
323 BC: The death of Alexander the Great, and is known as the end of the ‘Classical Age’ of Ancient Greece. The period after this is known as the ‘Hellenistic Age’.
146 BC: The Romans invaded Athens, and Greece became part of the Roman Empire.
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