FAQ: Acropolis, Parthenon, what’s the difference?

The Acropolis is a rocky hill in the middle of Athens.  The Parthenon is the most famous monument on top of that rock.

The rocky hill of the Acropolis as seen from the Southeast.

The Acropolis, a rocky hill in the centre of Athens. On its flat top, three temples: the Parthenon, the Erechtheum and the temple of Athena Nike.

The name Acropolis derives from the Greek words AKRO (meaning peak, top) and POLIS (meaning city). Acropolis therefore means “top of the city.” The Parthenon is a temple dedicated to goddess Athena Parthenos (Athena the Virgin). The temple’s name, derives from the goddess’s appellation and literally means “place of the Virgin”. (It is no coincidence that when the temple was converted into a church, it was dedicated to none other than the Virgin Mary.) There are two other temples visible today on the Acropolis: the Erechtheum (with its famous Caryatids) and the tiny temple of Athena Nike (meaning Athena Victory).

If you think this is too simple, or “elementary, dear Watson,” my apologies. This article was written for those who confuse the terms or think they are interchangeable. They are not.

Sometimes the simplest thigns are taken for granted and are not sufficiently explained to the uninitiated. Many, especially the young, are too embarassed to ask. Well, there is no shame in not knowing; the shame is in not seeking (or not providing) the answers. 


3 comments on “FAQ: Acropolis, Parthenon, what’s the difference?

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