The Smallest Temple of the Acropolis

The Temple of Athena Nike was built during the interruptions of the Peloponnese War, and was the earliest Ionic Temple to be built on the Acropolis, with work starting in 427 B.C.

Temple of Athena Nike

Though this temple is a small one, it is made entirely of marble. Its position on the front of the Acropolis was purposeful, in that the people of Athens could easily worship the Goddess of Victory during times of war, in the hope of a prosperous outcome.

It was Athens ambitions to be seen as a world power, such as Persia, that prompted the decision to build the temple. As with other temples on the Acropolis, the temple was beautifully decorated with friezes. These depicted the meeting between the Gods Athena, Zeus and Poseidon.

This meeting signifies the religious beliefs of the Athenians, and the hope of creating favour with the Gods, in order for the temple to be worshiped. This would have been particularly necessary especially during the political climate at this time.

The frieze also illustrated the victory by an alliance of Greek city states over the Persians at the battle of Plataea, which took place in 479BC. This depiction was to remind the Athenians of their past days of glory, and to raise moral and spur them on in the current climate.

On completion of the temple, a Parapet (lower wall) was added for extra protection. This parapet was one of the several signs that Athens wanted to resolve her battle with Sparta. In the temple, there was a statue of Athena as “Nike Apterus”, the Goddess without her wings, in the cellar. It is believed that the wings were removed by Athenians, who hoped that this would make Athena remain in the city for success over the Spartans.