The Parthenon is a former temple, on the Acropolis of Athens. It is dedicated to the Goddess Athena, whom Athenians considered their patron. In 447 BC construction began, when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power. Finally it was completed in 438 BC. The decoration of the building continued until 432 BC.

It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece and is generally considered the Zenith of the Doric Order. Its decorative sculptures are considered to be some of the high points of Greek art. It is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian Democracy and western civilization. Moreover it is considered one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments.

The Temple is archaeoastronomically aligned to the Hyades. While a sacred building dedicated to the city’s patron goddess, the Parthenon was actually used primarily as a treasury. For a time, it served as the treasury of the Delian League, which later became the Athenian Empire. In the final decade of the sixth century AD, the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

After the Ottoman conquest, it was turned into a mosque in the early 1460s. On 26 September 1687, an Ottoman ammunition dump inside the building was ignited by Venetian bombardment. The explosion severely damaged the Parthenon and its sculptures. From 1800 to 1803, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin removed some of the surviving sculptures with the alleged permission of the Ottoman Empire. These sculptures are now known as the Elgin Marbles or the Parthenon Marbles. They were sold in 1816 to the British Museum in London, where they are now displayed. Since 1983 (on the initiative of Culture Minister Melina Mercouri), the Greek government has been committed to the return of the sculptures to Greece.

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