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Temple of Hephaestus

The Temple of Hephaestus is the best preserved ancient temple in the country.

  1. Modern and Contemporary era (1821 - )

    1834 Until that year it was also used as a Protestant cemetery, after many British and European philhellenes who had fought for Greece were buried (also known as the "great mausoleum of British travelers"). In the same year all Christian elements were removed and Eduard Schaubert assumed its restoration.

  2. Ottoman era (1453- 1821)

  3. Byzantine era (331 AC- 1453)

    In the 5th century AD it was transformed into a Christian church dedicated to Saint George (Akamas).

  4. Roman era (30 BC- 330 AC)

    267 AD It suffered significant damage by the Heruli.

  5. Hellenistic era (322- 31 BC)

    A rare discovery was that the hill of Agoraios Kolonos, on which the temple was built, was a garden around 3rd century BC.

  6. Classical era (478-323 BC)

    460 BC It was built in two phases. The first is either 460 BC or from 449-444 BC and the second from 421-415 BC. Delays were both due to the works of the Acropolis and the Peloponnesian War.

  7. Archaic era (800-479 BC)

  8. Geometric era (-1100- 800 BC)

  9. Prehistory (-1100 BC)

What I can see

It was believed that the temple of Hephaestus was dedicated to Theseus, Hercules or Ares because of the decoration, which represented the labours of the – first two– mythological heroes. The former hero gave Thission its name. Research -based on Pausanias- has concluded that it was dedicated to Hephaestus and Athena Ergani. It is located on the Agoraios Kolonos hill and is the best preserved ancient temple in Greece. It is of Doric order, peripteros (i.e. surrounded by porticos or columns), with six columns on the shorter sides and 13 on the longer ones. It is made from Pentelic marble, apart from the sculptures which were made with marble from Paros and the lower step of the platform with poros stone. It also had a pronaos (vestibule) and an opisthonaos, where the sole frieze was found. In fact, the frieze is an element of the Ionian order (not of the Doric order), but it is found as a decorative practice in both the Parthenon and the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio. Inside, a double Π-shaped colonnade has columns engraved with historical events and names of visitors, who left an epigraph of their visit in stone.

What I can't see

Inside the temple there were two large bronze statues, one of Hephaestus and another of Athena Ergani. The former was the patron of metalsmiths and the latter of potters and handicraft makers. Their worship is associated with the large number of workshops that existed in the area. It is said that from this hill, the sculptor Pheidias saw the procession of the Panathenaia and got his inspiration for the Parthenon’s frieze. During the Ottoman period when it was a Christian church –already since the Byzantine period– it was given many nicknames and came close to being demolished and converted into a mosque, which was eventually prevented by special order. It was also used as a cemetery for Christians. Most of the monument’s destruction, especially of the metopes and the frieze, was at the hands of the Christians around the 7th century. During the country’s more recent history, it was associated with major events such as the declaration of King Otto in 1833, the surrender of the city to the Greeks by the Turks, the designation of Athens as the new capital of Greece and the major celebrations hosted here. Later on, the surrounding area was filled with refugee shelters and during the December events and Greek Civil War, became the site of violent conflict. It has also been used as an archaeological museum until the start of excavations in the Ancient Agora.


Archaeology of the city of Athens, (d.u), Ηφαιστείον (460-450/ 48 π.Χ)., [Hephaesteion (460-450/ 48 BC)], NRF

Last visit 18/4/2022

Yohalas T., Kafetzaki Τ., (2013), Αθήνα, Ιχνηλατώντας την πόλη με οδηγό την ιστορία και τη λογοτεχνία [Athens, Tracing the city guided by history and literature], ESTIA Bookstore

Zivas D.A.., (2012), Αρχιτεκτονικός Οδηγός Αθηνών, [Architectural Guide of Athens], Cultural Foundation of Pireos Group

Theochari A., (2021), Η αθηναϊκή δημοκρατία μέσα από τη σημειολογία των δημόσιων μνημείων: από τον 5ο αι. π.Χ. ως το τέλος της αθηναϊκής δημοκρατίας. [The Athenian democracy through the semiology of public monuments: from the 5th c. BC until the end of the Athenian democracy], Dissertation, University of the Aegean, Rhodes

Labropoulos V., Vomvogianni Ch., (1999), Ο ναός του Ηφαίστου στην Αρχαία Αγορά των Αθηνών: μορφές φθορών και προτάσεις προστασίας, [The Temple of Hephaestus in the Ancient Agora of Athens: forms of damage and proposals for protection], in Αρχαιολογία και Τέχνες [Archaeology and Arts], 73, 83-90.

Tsogka K., (2012), Ναός Ηφαίστου, [Temple of Hephaestus], Odysseus, Ministry of Culture

Last visit 28/8/2013

Foka Ι., Valavanis P., (1994), Περίπατοι στην Αθήνα και την Αττική, τόποι, θεοί, μνημεία [Strolls in Athens and Attica, places, gods, monuments], Kedros

Thompson, D. B. 1937. The Garden of Hephaistos, in Hesperia, Vol. 6, No. 3, 396-425.

Thompson H.A., Wycherley R.E., (1972), The Athenian Agora, results of excavations conducted by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, v.6, The Agora of Athens, the History, shape and uses of an ancient city center, The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Princeton, New Jersey

Travlos J., (1980), Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Athens, New York: Hacker Art Book