Tower of the Winds

Athens is a city steeped in history, and its remaining landmarks from time gone by offer up pieces of history that date back thousands of years. Found below the great Acropolis and its venerable Parthenon sits the Tower of the Winds at the site of the ancient Roman Agora Athens. Some sources claim that the Tower of the Winds was built in the 2nd century BC, which would place it on the site before the Roman Agora Athens was constructed. Other sources purport that The Tower of the Winds was the work of Macedonian astronomer and architect Andronikos Kyrrestes and thus built around 40-50 BC. One of the most notable Roman relics of the city, the Tower of the Winds was an important structure in its day and it continues to attract people to its base today to marvel at its reliefs and immaculately preserved appearance.

The Tower of the Winds can be found at Plaka, near the Plaka flea market shopping area, and on each of its eight sides reliefs can be found that personify the different winds. The north wind is represented by the deity Boreas, while the southern wind is depicted through the deity Notus. Kaikias represents the northeast wind, Skiron the northwest wind, Lips the southwest wind, Zephyrus the western wind, Eurus the eastern wind and Apeliotes the southeastern wind respectively. The Tower of the Winds Athens is also known as the Horologion of Andronikos, as sundials fixed on the outside were created so that wherever you were standing outside the tower you would be able to tell the time.

Inside the Tower of the Winds, a turning device that was powered by water brought down from the Acropolis was used to show the passing hours. The Tower of the Winds Athens once even had a bronze figurine on its top that served as a weather vane. The vane was created in the likeness of Triton, who was a Greek mythology god of the sea and also the son of Poseidon. The Tower of the Winds was, and still is, pretty ingenious and it is really amazing when you consider how it has managed to weather all these years without more damage. This is largely in part because it was built with pentelic marble that comes from the mountains near Athens. While it looks delicate, it is actually quite strong and resistant. The Tower of the Winds Athens measures about 26 feet in diameter and is approximately 40 feet tall.

Most of the Roman Agora Athens, which was primarily an extension of the greater Athenian Agora, is mostly reduced to ruins, yet the Tower of the Winds Athens remains splendid. What is left of the Roman Agora are some various monuments from equally varying eras, and columns and part of the Gate of Athena Archegetis, which originally dates to the 2nd century AD. Inscriptions that are found on the gate inform those reading them that the fund provided for its construction were supplied by Julius Caesar and Augustus. Another inscription found on a square pillar in the Roman Agora Athens was carved by Hadrian and it supposedly reads as a regulatory edict for oil sales. The Agora was once a thriving center where a yearly market would take place. Items sold at the market likely included the oil referenced, as well as salt and wheat. There is also an ancient Roman latrine found near the Tower of the Winds, which makes for some fun photography opportunities.

At the northern end of the Roman Agora there is a mosque from the late 15th century when the city was under Turkish rule. It is called the Fethiye Mosque, and while not too complex, it is beautiful to look at. It was erected on the site where a Christian church once stood, and was intended to both honor Mehmet II and to celebrate Turkish victory and control of Athens. When Venice eventually conquered the city and eradicated the Turks, the mosque became a Roman Catholic Church. Today, its use is rather bland, as it serves as a storehouse and can not be accessed by the general public.

The Tower of the Winds is included in the price of admission for the Roman Agora, which costs around $3. You can also purchase the Unification of Archaeological Sites pass for around $17 that includes the Tower of the Winds. From May-October, the Tower of the Winds is open daily from 8 a.m.- 7.p.m. From November-April it is open daily from 8 a.m.- 3 p.m.

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