Temple of Hephaestus

The Temple of Hephaestus has been a part of Athens Greece since 450 BC. It anchored the Athenian Agora, the ancient marketplace, city center, and the gathering place for the great city state. Also called the Theseion or the Hephaesteion, the temple remains one of the best preserved temples from its era in all of Greece.

The Doric Temple of Hephaestus Athens Greece was dedicated to an important god. While he may not as familiar today as Zeus or Apollo, Hephaestus played an important role in the life of early Athens. The god of metalworking, craftsmen, fire, the forger of technology might be better known by his Roman counterpart—Vulcan. Hephaestus was the son of Zeus and Hera, and a Temple of Zeus stands nearby in Athens, while the Temple of Hera and another one dedicated to Zeus remain in Olympia.

Athens was the industrial center of ancient Greece, so it makes sense that the Temple of Hephaestus was built in Athens. Many of the best craftsmen had shops in Athens, providing the goods and the materials to make Athens the premier city of the Greek world. These professionals, feeling they owed a debt their patron god, provided many of the funds and the visits that kept the Temple of Hephaestus Athens Greece prospering. They also provided the labor and the know-how that had the temple built in the first place. Archaeologists think the temple's history begins around 449 BC. It's amazing to think the temple has been standing largely intact for 2,500 years.

For a long time, the Temple of Hephaestus was called the Theseion, a nod to the king of Athens and military hero who was buried here. However, archaeologists aren't sure if he's buried here because they've found evidence of the king elsewhere. There's no question about Hephaestus's connection to the temple. When you add a visit to the ancient Agora to your Athens itineraries, you'll have the chance to see the ancient structure up close. A skilled guide can fill in on the story of this ancient structure. They'll tell stories of the crafters who worked in the shadow of the temple and the builders who laid the stone and designed the Doric-style temple.

It's likely that the same architect who designed the Parthenon (the nearby temple dedicated to Athena) crafted this one. The Temple of Hephaestus Athens Greece features six stone columns on both the west and the east side of the temple and there are thirteen marble columns on the other two facades. On the Eastern edge of the temple, you'll find a frieze artwork illustrating Hercules at work and another illustrating a battle led by Theseus. Walking to the west, you'll find sculptures that provide a picture of the Trojan War. After the fall of Rome, Hephaestus's temple was converted to a church, as happened with many ancient temples.

Seventh-century Christians rededicated the marble structure, naming it the Church of Saint George. In the 1800s, the temple-turned-church became a museum at the request of King Otto. One hundred years after the museum opened, officials discontinued the museum and returned to the status of an ancient monument. Archaeologists got to work, revealing the secrets of this ancient temple, for the historical record and the many people who include Athens in their Greece vacation plans.

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