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The Roman Agora

Lying east of the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora actually has nothing to do with Romans, but took this name because it was constructed during Roman times -1st century CE- in order to serve a growing Athens. It is a single architectural complex consisting of a vast rectangular court, measuring 367 ft by 315 ft, surrounded by colonnades. The courtyard was surrounded by stoas, shops and storerooms. It has an east, Ionic propylon and a west, Doric propylon, known as the Gate of Athena Archegetis, which linked it to the Greek Agora. It was built between 19 and 11 BCE with a donation of Julius Caesar and Augustus. During the reign of Hadrian the court was paved with slabs. After the invasion of the Herulae in 267 CE, the city of Athens was restricted to the area within the Late Roman fortification wall, and the administrative and commercial center of the city was transferred from the Ancient Agora to the Roman Agora and the Library of Hadrian.

Click on the thumbnails below in order to see pictures of the Roman Agora.  Use your browser's back button to return to this page.

The Roman Agora from the eastGeneral view of the Roman Agora as seen from the east. The Fethiye Djami, a mosque built in 1456 CE by the Turks to celebrate their occupation of Athens, is partially visible on the north side (right). The Roman Agora from the westGeneral view of the Roman Agora from the west.  The Tower of the Winds (Horologion of Andronicos) and the East Propylon are visible in this picture. East PropylonThe East Propylon was the east entrance into the Roman Agora. It had a row of four Ionic columns made of gray Hymettian marble. It was built in 19-11 BCE.

Tower of the Winds from the Acropolis









The Tower of the Winds as seen from the Acropolis with the southwest, south, southeast and east winds visible. The Pentelic marble structure was built in the shape of an octagonal tower with a pyramidal roof. At the top of the pyramid was a revolving copper Triton which showed the direction of the wind. The name of the tower comes from the external friezes, containing carved depictions of the eight winds, each holding a special symbol, with its name on the cornice: Boreas (north), Skiron (nouthwest), Zephyros (west), Lips (southwest), Notos (south), Euros (southeast), Apeliotes (east), and Kaikias (northeast). Each wind was given a personality according to its characteristics and each promises different conditions.

The east and northeast windsThe east and northeast faces of the Tower of the Winds. Apeliotes (east) is a young man bringing fruits and grains. Kaikias (northeast) empties a shield full of icy hailstones on those below. Built in the 1st century BCE by the Syrian astronomer Andronikos Kyrrestes, this octagonal structure served as a clepsydra (water-clock), compass and weather-vane. High up, in the corners on the sides, were iron rods with carved lines that indicated the hours of the day when it was sunny. Inside the tower was a water-clock which showed the time when there was not any sunshine. The clock ran on water from the spring on the Acropolis.

The northwest and west windsThe northwest and west faces of the Tower of the Winds. Skiron (northwest) scatters glowing ashes from a bronze vessel and Zephyros (west) is a semi naked youth scattering flowers.
Tower of the WindsThe south, southeast and east faces of the Tower of the Winds.  The tower is located at the eastern end of the Roman Agora. The tower is well preserved, standing today at over 12 meters (40 feet) high with a diameter of 8 meters (26 feet). The south, southeast and east windsDetail of the south, southeast and east winds from the Tower of the Winds. Notos (south) is the bearer of rain, emptying a pitcher of water. Euros (southeast) is a bearded man, warmly wrapped in a cloak. Apeliotes (east) is a young man bringing fruits and grain. The west, southwest, and south windsDetail of the west, southwest, and south winds from the Tower of the Winds. Zephyros (west) is a seminaked youth scattering flowers. Lips (southwest) holds the aphlaston (stern ornament) of a ship as he steers. Notos (south) is the bearer of rain, emptying a pitcher of water.
Gate of Athena Archegetis from the AcropolisThe Gate of Athena Archegetis as seen from the Acropolis. The monumental entrance stands on the west side of the Roman Agora. The Gate of Athena ArchegetisThe Gate of Athena Archegetis has a row of four Doric columns and a socle (base) made of Pentalic marble. It was built in 11 BCE with the donations of Julius Caesar and Augustus. Detail of the Gate of Athena ArchegetisDetail of the Gate of Athena Archegetis.  It was dedicated by the People (Demos) of Athens to their patroness, Athena Archegetis.
Statues in the Roman AgoraStatues in the Roman Agora A tub in the Roman AgoraA tub in the Roman Agora Hadrian's LibraryParallel to the Roman Agora and only 52 feet away is Hadrian's Library, built in 132 CE by Emperor Hadrian. It measured 120 x 80 meters (390 x 260 feet). Smaller rooms and a garden with a pool were contained in the complex in addition to the vast library itself.

 
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All pictures are Copyright 2000 Grisel Gonzalez and Jeff Prosise