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Discover the Secrets of the Caryatids of the Erechtheion at Athens

The goddess of wisdom protects Athens from her abode in the Acropolis while the faithful Caryatids keep her company.

THE ERECHTHEION AT ATHENS

Six maidens guard the tomb of the mythic King Crecrops, founder of Athens. From up above, they look after the mortals who wander around the city at their feet and they carry in eternal silence the weight of the heavy marble that remains sturdy and serene throughout the centuries.

WHO WERE THE CARYATIDS?

These statues of women known as the Caryatids represent the female citizens of Carya, located in the Peloponnese, which during the Greco-Persian Wars collaborated with the Persian invaders. For that reason, Athens declared war against that city, and as a punishment, its inhabitants were exterminated and its women were sold as slaves. They sculpted their silhouettes in marble and they gave them the function of columns so that they would carry on their heads a heavy architrave that would remind them of the consequences of their treason. And so, they remain eternally immobile in the southern portico of the temple known as the Erechtheion

ARCHITECTURE OF THE ERECHTHEION

DINKtravelers invites you to visit this temple located on the northern part of theAcropolis in Athens. It was designed according to the Ionic order. Since it was built on a hill, two of its porches are three meters below the rest. But the stories behind the Erechtheion go beyond the Caryatids Tribune. In fact, the Eastern part was dedicated to Athena Polias and the opposite side gathered the cult to other Olympian deities such as Poseidon, Zeus and Hephaestus as well as some mythical kings.

Its name comes from the epithet “Erechtheus” given to Poseidon, god of the ocean and earthquakes, and which means “that who makes the Earth shake”. At the same time, it is said that the area where the temple was erected was where Athena and Poseidon quarreled to become the protector of Athens. For that reason, each deity agreed to offer a gift to the city so that its inhabitants would choose their favorite. Convinced of his superiority, Poseidon struck the earth with his trident and a spring emerged from it. Even though it could have favored traveling for commercial purposes, salt water flowed from it, so the people could not drink it. On the other hand, Athena offered them the olive tree and from it they were able to extract wood, oil and food. For that reason, the goddess of wisdom was chosen as patron of the Athenians. Since then, Athena protects the city from her abode while the faithful Caryatids keep her company.

REPLICAS OF THE CARYATIDS

The six 7 foot tall Caryatids that are presently found in the southern portico of the temple are replicas of the original columns, which are kept in the Acropolis Museum and the British Museum.

HISTORY OF THE ERECHTHEION

In the seventh century, the Erechtheion was transformed into a Byzantine church. From that moment, the structure suffered multiple changes and it was used for different purposes. For example, in the fifteenth century, during the Ottoman period, it was home to the harem of the Turk commander of the Acropolis.

PHOTOGRAPHY AT THE ACROPOLIS IN ATHENS

When you take pictures of the Caryatids, use the zoom of your camera to capture the fabric creases of their dresses, their delicate hairdos and the jewelry that adorns their beauty. All of them enrich their exquisite sensuality.