Hadrian's Arch, is a monument which, in spite of the marks of time and repetitive acts of vandalism, still preserves its elegant silhouette and an admirable patina through the gradual oxidation of its pentelic (from the quarries of Mt. Penteli) white marble. It is located a short distance from Areopagitou Street or the Monument of Lycicrates, on Amalias Avenue.
Hadrian's Arch, Robert Sayer, London, 1759.
Above the ancient road leading from the Acropolis to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, aka Olympieion, a two-story triumphal arch was erected in 131-132 A.D., marking the boundary between the old city of Athens and the new city. The Athenian Neapolis stretches under the Zappeion and the National Gardens. Archaeological excavations to the site thus far have located luxurious mansions, baths, and a gymnasium.
The monument was erected in 131-132 A.D. in honor of Roman Emperor Hadrian, a benefactor of the city of Athens, as a triumphal arch, and in order to embellish the -then- new district of Athens, constructed mostly during his rule and bearing his name, Hadrianopolis (City of Hadrian), which began just where the ancient city of Theseus ended.
The monument is an isolated gateway, 13.5 m. (44 ft.) broad, 2.5 m. thick and 18 m. (59 ft.) high, with an arched 6 m. (20 ft.) wide passage. It was originally ornamented with two pilasters of the Corinthian order of architecture and their bases and capitals may still be partly seen; their architraves are almost intact, especially the one facing the city. Above the entablature rises a Corinthian portico with three window-like openings formerly filled with thin marble slabs and probably ornamented with statues, similar to the Philopappos Monument.
The central opening is surmounted with a pediment. The corner pilasters 0,88 m. wide, with a simple base are not channeled and their capitals, continued as cornices with small faces are of a composite shape. The gateway stood at the end of a street leading to the NW towards the impressive Temple of Olympian Zeus.
On the two sides of the architrave above the arch there are two inscriptions: on the West side, it reads, "This is Athens the old city of Thesseus", and on the East side, it reads, "This is the city of Hadrian and not Thesseus".
The remains of wall-paintings suggest that in the Middle Ages the arch had become part of a Christian church. In 1778 it was converted into a gate of the defense wall around Athens, and was known as the "Princess Gate".
Athens and Attica : History and Archaeology by Andreas G. Vlachopoulos Hardcover $39.95 The book presents the prehistory of Attica (Neolithic and Bronze Age) and then focuses mainly on the topography of the city-state of Athens over the centuries. The narration combines a discussion of the topographical, epigraphical and archaeological data, as well as of the great works of ancient Greek art created in Athens during this period. Apart from the city (asty), the book presents the archaeological evidence from the demoi in Attica, the vitally important rural territory (chora) of the city-state, integral to the functioning of the political system. Particular emphasis is placed on the demos of Piraeus, main port of Athens, which played a significant role in Athenian economy and history in general. The extensive appendix presents plans, architectural drawings, and graphic restorations of monuments with explanatory texts by Panos Valavanis and Lydia Palaiokrassa-Kopitsa, and enriches the illustrations.
Very close to Hadrian's Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus, we recommend The Athens Gate Hotel, an Airport Hotel known for its friendly service and its strategic location. There is a bar/restaurant on the top floor, offering grand views of the city and where you can take your breakfast, or use room service. There is also a bar in the reception area serving coffee, drinks and light snacks all day. All the front rooms have a view of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and 6th and 7th floor rear rooms, on request basis and upon availability, offer stunning views of the Acropolis. All units are equipped with a 27-inch LCD flat-screen TV.