The graceful octagonal tower is located in Greece on the Roman square of Athens, at the foot of the Acropolis. The poetic name Tower of the Winds is meant for tourists.
Purpose of the tower
This is the oldest meteorological station . Its main purpose is to determine wind direction and time. For this purpose, the Greeks used it for several centuries in a row. The construction evokes genuine admiration for human genius during the times of ancient civilization.
Facts from history
The building was erected in the first century BC by the astronomer Andronnik from the city of Kirr. The Greeks themselves prefer to call him Aerides or Clepsydra. Each of them very accurately reflects the main purpose.
Despite this assortment of names, the correct name for the meteorological tower is “Kirrist’s Clock” after its founder. The tower is dedicated to the pagan deity Athena.
In Christian times, it served as a bell tower.
During the Turkish rule in Greece, Muslims offered prayers to Allah here, decorating with Muslim symbols. After liberation from the Turkish yoke, Orthodox Christians were baptized in the tower.
The structure is a freestanding octahedral tower 12 meters high and 8 meters in inner diameter. The material for the building is an expensive kind of marble. The walls are completely composed of it, connected in a regular octagon.
The tower is crowned with a conical ceramic roof. In ancient times, a copper weather vane in the form of a triton (a mythical creature, half-human, half-fish) stood at the top. In his outstretched right hand he held a stick indicating the direction of the wind. Each corner is strictly oriented to the cardinal point.
Inside there is a water clock – clepsydra, for which water was supplied from the Acropolis.
Myths come to life
The most impressive element of the tower is eight bas-reliefs, the personification of the number of winds, the heroes of ancient Greek mythology. They are depicted on the friezes of each side of the octahedral building with characteristic symbols and names.
These are allegories of the winds. Looking at them, you can understand what to expect from the weather:
- The harsh northern Boreas, which never brings anything good, is depicted as an old man vegetating from the fierce cold even in warm clothes.
- On the northeastern edge of the wind Kekiy. He generously sprinkles hail all around from his huge shield.
- On the southern edge, the gentle Note brought the long-awaited rains and is depicted with a vessel filled with water.
- On the western edge, a beautiful wind named Zephyr is buried in flowers and brings spring, joy and warmth to Greece.
- The soft oriental Apeliot looks like a youth with a cloak full of juicy fruit.
- Stormbringer southeastern Evres, a danger to sailors. This is a repulsive old man in long robes.
- Southwestern Lips, gentle and comfortable for sailing, a handsome youth pushing the ship.
- Northwest Skiron brings drought and heat. He is a bearded man with a pot of hot coals.
Just below the frieze is the dial of the sundial .
Under the weight of its own marble walls, the base of the tower plunged into the ground to a considerable depth. The first restoration work began only in the middle of the 19th century.
It took a long time to free the foundation from the earth. For a long time, painstaking work on the restoration of the elements of the building went on. At the present stage, restoration continues. The plans are to restore the hydraulic clock inside and try to start it. It is also planned to revive the lost weather vane.
The principle of the tower clock is very interesting and at the same time simple. On sunny days, by the shadow falling on them, the inhabitants of Athens could find out what time it was. For cloudy weather, another clock was invented – hydraulic.
The time intervals in them were measured by drops of water flowing out gradually from the opening of the vessel. Hence the winged expression “Time is up” came from. In ancient Athens, it had a literal meaning.
The area that grew up around was named by the name. This is one of the most picturesque areas in the center of Athens.
The Tower of the Winds in Athens served as the prototype for the Radcliffe Observatory in Oxford and the tower of the same name in Sevastopol.