The Temple of Hephaistos Captured My Heart


We all have those transcendent moments. This one is from quite a while back, June 22, 2008. I have so many wonderful memories from our time in Greece; I find myself returning to them fondly and frequently. At first, I wasn't quite certain what grabbed me about this temple, but grab me it did, and honestly, it has not let go.

Temple of Hephaistos

In the ancient Agora of Athens, atop Agoraios Kolonos hill, stands this beautiful 5th century temple, largely intact. Hephaistos is one of the best preserved Doric temples in Greece, and yes, that does grab me. I loved the combination of the temple, the Mediterranean vegetation, and the setting on the hill.

View of Athenian Agora and Hephaistos from Acropolis

My first view of the temple was from atop the Acropolis. The stand out building with its majestic columns, in the green space, is the temple that captured my heart. Athens spreads far afield in the background.


The golden age of Athenian culture blossomed under the direction of Pericles, who is hailed by Athenian historian Thucydides as "the first citizen" of democratic Athens. Having grown up surrounded by artists and philosophers, Pericles developed both artistic sophistication and political acumen. During the 440s and 430s BCE, he used the treasury to fund vast cultural projects within Athens, wishing to make Athens the centre of Greek power and culture. The most well known of these projects are the Acropolis and the Parthenon.

Hephaistos is the best preserved, most complete temple from Classical Greece

Among the first structures of Pericles' rebuilding program was the Temple of Hephaistos. This white marble structure was built in stages along with the other Greek treasures in this area, all to the highest standards of engineering and mathematics and aesthetics, carved by the greatest sculptors of the age.

The marble was quarried from nearby Mount Penteli

Hephaistos (Hephaestus) is the ancient god of fire, honoring craftsmen, blacksmiths, and metalworking, and yes, in its day, the temple had neighboring metalwork shops in this ancient gathering place. The temple housed two bronze statues, one of Hephaistos and one of Athena, goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and warfare.

The western frieze depicts the mythical battle between the Athenians and the centaurs

The temple became a Christian church presumably around 700 ADE. In 1834, this was the location of the last public assembly of Athenians, for the celebration when Athens became the official capital of Greece. Then in the 19th century, the temple was used as a burial site for non-Orthodox Europeans. King Otto I, first King of Greece, ordered the building to be used as a museum beginning in 1834. In 1922 and 1923, the structure served as a shelter for refugees from Asia Minor. Finally in 1934, its status was reverted to an ancient monument, with the temple and grounds becoming an ancient Greek archeological focal point.

Catch a glimpse of the Parthenon from between the columns of Hephaistos on your way out

Quite a bit of history has passed between those columns. When in Athens, make certain to visit the Temple of Hephaistos, a perfect combination of history, architecture and beauty. I hope you have enjoyed my photographs.

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