Nika Apteros Temple is an ancient Greek temple in the center of Athens, built on the Acropolis in honor of Nike, the goddess of victory.
Acropolis of Athens
The Athenian Acropolis erected after the victorious end of the Greco-Persian wars during the reign of King Pericles, when the Greek capital at its peak. The Acropolis, built on a 156-meter rocky hill, rose high and proudly above the city.
The complex of temples erected on a gentle summit with an area of 300 * 130 meters. Pericles’ friend, the sculptor Phidias, was responsible for the artistic direction of the construction work .
Once every four years in honor of the patroness of Athens – the goddess Athena – the festival “Great Panathenes” held. Citizens of the city in a solemn procession ascended the Acropolis to conduct a festive ritual in the sanctuary. A paved road led to the top of the Acropolis, laid out along a gentle slope.
Temple of the Goddess of Victory
Approaching the hill, the townspeople saw the graceful temple of Nike Ateros, made by the architect Kaliktrat. In the temple, built in 424 BC, the Greeks, tired of endless wars with the Persians, prayed to the almighty Nike – the goddess of Victory – for a successful outcome in the Peloponnesian War.
To the right of the entrance to the Acropolis of Athens, on a steep rock ledge, is a light structure, the entrance to which is located behind the building. Nearby – the Propylaea, a heavy monumental gateway to the Acropolis .
The architect Kallikrates designed a graceful rectangular building with pillared porticoes. A small structure (8.27 * 5.44m) of white marble, built in a fashionable Ionian style, stands on a three-stage stylobate platform.
Around the perimeter, the building surrounded by a continuous relief belt 23.6 meters long. On the sculptural frieze there are scenes of battles between the Persians and the Greeks, watched by the Olympic gods: Athena, Zeus, Poseidon.
The structure fenced off with a 41-meter-long parapet made of 1-meter-high slabs. On each slab of the parapet there are scenes of sacrifices in honor of the goddess of Victory. Nika, depicted on the reliefs, is striking in its elegance.
Interesting! The lightness and airiness of the structure is emphasized by thin columns 4 meters high, carved from solid pieces of marble and decorated with spirals.
The use of the temple by the Greeks
Nika’s temple considered the home of deities, and commoners not allowed to enter here. The privilege of entering the temple belonged to the priests. Believers performed rituals in front of the temple, on a small altar, through the space between the columns, they saw the sculptural figure of the goddess.
Interesting! The marble Nika was holding in her hands a ripe pomegranate fruit – a symbol of abundance and a battle helmet – a symbol of victory.
In honor of the goddess, festivals and sacrifices arranged. They prayed for the messenger for favor and built a temple in honor of the capricious mistress, airy and light, like the winged goddess Nike herself. However, in this temple there is a statue of Nike without wings: this is how the Greeks wanted to instill in the hearts of the townspeople hope for eternal peace.
According to legend, the inhabitants of ancient Athens deprived the goddess of her wings so that she, forever remaining in the city, would protect them from adversity. After all, victory is fickle and flies from one enemy to another. Several decades passed, and victory left Athens along with prosperity and prosperity, although in the time of Pericles everything seemed possible.
From the site of the sanctuary, one can see the Saronic Gulf, washing the coast of Attica. An ancient myth tells that here King Aegeus was waiting for the white sails to appear – a symbol of the return with the victory of Theseus’ son.
Theseus forgot to change the black sails – a symbol of his death in the battle with the centaur – for white ones, although he returned victorious. Aegeus, deciding that his son was dead, threw himself down the cliff and crashed.
From the history of the temple of Niki Apteros
In the 5th century, the Acropolis destroyed by the Persians, and Nike’s temple converted into a Christian church. Later, the Acropolis became a Turkish fortress, and the Turks dismantled the Nika temple to build bastions.
After the restoration of the independence of Greece in 1832, the temple reconstructed. In 2000, a thorough restoration carried out, so that people admire the grandeur and beauty of the building from anywhere in the city. The temple is especially beautiful at night when the illumination that decorates the ancient building is on.