The Parthenon in Athens is perhaps the most famous structure of the ancient world. What are some features of this remarkable building?

Answer: A former temple on the Acropolis, or high ground, it is dedicated to the goddess Athena, the people of Athens’ patron.

Building began in 447 BCE when the Athenian empire was at its apex. Designed by architects Ictinos and Callicrates, the Parthenon was built of marble from Mount Pendeli by skilled craftsmen and artists.

The building is a sublime architectural structure not just for its striking beauty but its sophisticated and minute refinements.

A Doric temple with eight columns at the façade, and seventeen columns at the flanks, it is on first appearance a pure expression of linear and rational thinking, frozen in stone. This is, in fact, a clever illusion.

The Parthenon has not a single straight line. Each column bends slightly. The temple embraces the ratio of nine to four, which governs its vertical and horizontal proportions.

Other features include an upward curvature of the base, gentle convexity of the columns as they diminish in diameter toward the top, and a thickening of the four corner columns to offset the thinning effect of being viewed at certain angles against the sky.

In all, sublime, sculptured art – but on a majestic scale.

Source: Modern World Encyclopedia

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