Come and visit the oldest meteorological station in the world! Come and visit the roman Agora in Athens. Situated right in the heart of the capital, you cannot miss a visit to this monument.
The roman agora is a public place directly linked to the ancient agora, which is Greek. On the site there are several other monuments and one of them is considered as the oldest meteorological station known today! It is also one of the oldest prototypes of a clock tower, as its height and size of the water clock made the time visible from far way. From the outside gate you won’t see much, and it would be a shame to not have a sense of the true beauty the site has to offer. The Tower of winds is a one a kind gem you will only see during your visit to the roman agora.
When the Roman Agora was used during antiquity, it was called the Eretria. During the first century before Christ, the roman agora was built under the supervision of Emperors Augustus and Hadrian, Hadrian is known for being passionate about arts and culture and for funding a lot of different projects in Greece. The roman agora is also referred to as the forum. It was the ancient town center of the city, but it also was used as commercial center and generally a market place. It is situated up north of the Acropolis nearby the ancient agora which had to be extended as it wasn’t convenient anymore to contain any more new commercial activities, as the place was becoming increasingly popular . The new design offered a larger open space. Different monuments where built before such as the Horologion also known as the tower of the winds. Stores were framed by fancy colonades. There were two entrances, one was at the gate of Athena Archegetis and the other entrance was more subtle and consisted of a simple propylaea at the south.
The Roman agora is a hundred and twelve meter square, surrounded by columns of ionic marble and propylaes that consisted of two gates. The tower of the winds is an octagonal tower located on the east region of Athens. It was constructed way before the agora itself, around forty eight before Christ by the Syrian astronomer Kyrrestes. It is forty feet high, and you will see at the top a frieze representing the eight gods of the winds. Under each god is a sundial and inside of the tower you will find a water clock, originally powered by a water stream coming from the Acropolis. The weather vane is shaped in a triton. This monument is situated near Aiolou street, which is another minor wind deity.
A large public latrine was also found during excavations near the tower of wind. They were called the Vespasianai, as there use was taxed. There were sixty eight places available, with almost no privacy which is normal since these places were usually used to socialize. During the byzantine period this area was covered with houses and the Fetiyie Mosque was built. They were mainly destroyed unfortunately through time.
What to do and see at the Roman Agora
Today you will see parts of the columns, a small zone of the public latrines and the entire Tower of Winds as it was successfully conserved. An inscription on the monumental gate says: “Athena the leader”, which indicates that the site was funded by Caesar and Augustus. It is a spacious courtyard, with many remains of fountains. Even though this agora is roman, it resembles very much the Greek architecture. The emperor Hadrian much admired the Greek culture and wanted to respect as much as possible the original agora in its restoration.
The Tower of the Wind is still in good shape. It is built in white marble. It was always possible to know what time it was as there was water clock when the sun dial wasn’t operational at night, or the rare times when there were clouds. On the frieze at the top of the columns there are representations of all the major gods of the wind. Boreas; north wind, is cold fierce and relatively stormy. Skiron ; Northwest is the driest kind of wind and is a pretty violent wind. . Zephyrus; west wind brings sultry weather but very pleasant weather in spring, giving a warm embrace to vegetation. Lips ; south west blows directly on the Saronic gulf. Notos; south wind is sultry and wet. Euros; south east ; is gloomy and brings a lot of rain. Apeliotes ; east wind and brings a gentle rain. Kakas; north east brings clouds, and is wet and cold. It is a interesting monument that blends elements of nature ; sun, water and wind, and symbolizes them in a original representation. The other elements (fire, earth) weren’t associated with changes in weather so they weren’t represented.
These monuments are a combination of the Greek passion for symmetry, beauty and the roman power, rational thought. The main style of the agora is roman but the methods of construction are definitely Greek. Until the 17th century, it was commonly thought that this tower was the prison of Socrates or the tomb of Philipp II of Macedonia. The west gate is a built in a Doric propylon gate. Another monument was found on site but its use is object to controversy : it is called the Agoranomeion. The building is said to be used for regulating the market. Only ruins remain of it. The Roman Agora is an easy site to visit as it it right in the heart of Athens.
How to go to the Roman agora
The exact address of the site is: Adrianou 24, Athina 105 55
By metro: line one and three at Monastiraki stop .
By bus: 25,26,27,35,200,227,500.
By foot: From Monastiraki square follow Ermou street towards Syntagma onto Aiolou Street, and you will find the archeological area in front of you.
By car: as it is in the town center, you will have a tough time finding a public parking space nearby, so you should probably walk there from the center.
Opening hours and rates
Admissions are permitted half an hour before the closing time of the site.
The site is opened everyday :
- Winter-autumn season : from 08:30 to 15:00
- Summer-spring season : from 8:00-19:30
Closed on the 25th of march.
- General entrance : 2 €
Free entrance for :
- Students of Greek or EU students (on presentation of the student ID)
- Students of fine art schools of non EU countries on presentation of a student card
Combined ticket :
- For adults : 30 €
- For students : 15 €
The combined ticket includes : the Acropolis, the Antique Agora, The Dyonysos Theater, Kerameikos, the Olympieion and Hadrian’s library.
Days of free entrance for all visitors on these days :
- Sundays from November the 1st to March 31st
- 1st Sunday of every month except for July, August and September
- March 6th(in Memory of Melina Mercouri)
- April 18th (National monument day)
- May 18th (national museum day)
- June 5th (World environment day)
The last weekend of September of every year (European day of cultural heritage).
GOOD TO KNOW:
It is best to visit the Roman Agora in the early hours of the day due to the heat in the summer.
Watch out for the many turtles that wander around the site.
There are no signs or explanations on the site or ancient representations of what it originally looked like, so it can be hard to imagine how the site used to look like without any research done beforehand. It is advised to have an audio tour.
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