Following our Marathon experience and after a delicious lunch of souvlaki and salad we carried on with our history lessons.
We first visited the site of the 1st c BC Roman Agora. Built to house Athen’s commercial activities, it was financed by Julius Caesar and then Augustus Caesar. The only significant building still standing on the site is the octagonal Tower of Winds. Also known as the Clock of Kyrrestos, the building is considered to be the first the meteorological station in the world. It features relief figures of the eight wind gods, eight sundials and a water clock. It was surely an impressive “machine” in its day.
Then we travelled further back in time to what is referred to as the Ancient Agora. These ruins date back to about 5 BC and were the center of Athen’s democratic system. Pericles and Socrates walked here, as did both senators and commoners. Among the ruins are Athen’s oldest court, several sanctuaries, numerous temples and altars, the Council House, the Library of Pantainos, the Odeon of Agrippa (a theatre) and quite a few stoas, which are column-lined covered walkways.
On the hill overlooking the entire grounds is the classical Temple of Hephaestus and Athena Ergane, the patron god of metal work/crafts and (accordingly) the god of fire. The temple stands pretty much as built; construction was sporadic between 459 - 415 BC.
The Museum of the Athenian Agora is housed in the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos, a 2nd c BC walkway that had 21 shops along the rear side. Now the shops are joined into just a few exhibition halls. On display are items related to political and administrative activities as well as to the day-to-day life of citizens. These include official clay measures, bronze weights and ID tags. Coins too, but not much. bronze ballots and lots and lots of pottery shards that had also been used as ballots. Other bits of daily-use pottery round out the exhibit.
Between these large buildings are the ruins of several others, including evidence of the complex underground water works and a few notable statues.