Acropolis in Modern Era


Greek War of Independence

In 1821, after 400 years of occupation the Greeks revolted to overthrow the Ottoman Empire from their land. During the struggle, the Acropolis changed hands several times and the monuments were further destroyed as Greeks and Turks alternated positions on the rock until the final liberation of Greece in 1827.

The Acropolis After the Liberation of Greece

The newly formed Greek government immediately protected the Acropolis and further plundering of its cultural treasures was prevented, while all Turkish fortifications on the Propylaia were dismantled. Restoration of the monuments began and the temple of Athena Nike was reconstructed. After 1880 many Archaic sculptures, were revealed during excavations for the construction of the Acropolis Museum at the East end of the rock, along with the foundations of the old temple destroyed by the Persian invasion in 480 BCE.

Modern Acropolis

Since the late 19th century, the Acropolis of Athens has undergone systematic excavations and extensive restorations of its buildings. During the early days many errors resulted in buildings being distorted and the dismantling of older restorations was necessary once the errors were discovered. The monuments have been damaged by the inclusion of steel as a reinforcing element embedded in the marble parts of the buildings. As the metal oxidized, it caused significant damage to the stone around it and today during major reconstruction the early steel inserts are being replaced by titanium ones.

Today the modern city of Athens threatens to destroy in a short time what took eons to underscore. Air pollution from millions of vehicles and industrial complexes has corroded the marble, pulverizing its surface and causing irreparable damage to the monuments. The sulfuric acid of the polluted air, mixed with the rainwater reacts with the marble, transforming its surface into a layer of gypsum.

While experts and the Greek government search for the best way to preserve the monuments and attempt reconstructions of the monuments, many priceless artifacts have been removed from the buildings and sheltered in the Acropolis museum. Sculptures like the Caryatids from the Erechtheion today are exhibited in the protective atmosphere of a special room, and have been replaced by exact replicas on the temple’s porch.

Also See: Acropolis Architecture


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