Thiseio is a neighborhood in Athens, which attracts visitors for a stroll and for the terrific view of Acropolis hill and the temple of Hephaestus. Just off Andrianou street is Apostolou Pavlou street which has been pedestrianized. Apostolou Pavlou street is the main road of Thiseio. If you walk from Thiseio metro station towards Apostolou Pavlou street you will meet an open air market where vendors sell handmade jewelers, antiques and souvenirs. Crossing the street you will meet Herakleidon street which is also a pedestrian street full of cafeterias. The more you cross the street away from Acropolis you will meet bohemian locales and traditional ouzo bars that serve local mezes.
Why the area was named Thiseio?
The place was named Thiseio by the temple in the area that was mistakenly named temple of Theseus. The accurate name was the temple of Hephaestus who was the patron god who protected the metal workers of the area. Theseus was the mythical king of Athens who had gone to Crete to kill the minotaur. There is a statue of Theseus outside the Thiseio Metro Station. The church of Agioi Asomatoi which is also near the metro station is one of the oldest churches in Athens.
The temple of Hephaestus
The temple of Hephaestus is in the hill of Agoraios Kolonos, on the west side of the ancient Agora. It is a doric order temple and the entire building is made of pentelic marble.
About the name “Hephaestus” of the temple
The temple was first mistakenly named “ Theseion” from the mythical king Theseus. The depiction of Theseus to the metopes was the reason for this misunderstood. The temple was finally named “ Hephaestus” from the god Hephaestus who was the protector of metallurgists who had working installations around the temple.
Structure of the building
The temple is consisted of a pronaos where was the main entrance and opisthodromos( back entrance). The exterior of the building was surrounded by a doric colonnade. On the interior of the cella there was a pedestral that supported the cult statues of Hephaestus and Athena, sculptured by Alkamenes.
Metopes decorated the external colonnade. On the east side, the subject of depiction was the victorious battles of Hercules. On the north and the south side, the subject of depictions was the king Theseus. The slaying of the Minotaur is a characteristic depiction related to the myth of Theseus.
The ionic frieze adorned the epistyle above the columns and the pronaos pilasters. Theseus is depicted winning Pallades, a family which also claimed the thronos. Opisthodromos is aslo adorned with pediments.
How the temple of Hephaestus was used?
In the 7 th century AD the temple was converted into a church dedicated to St George. The early Christians destroyed the metopes feauturing ancient greek gods. Burilas of people who died during the Greek War of Independence ( 1821- 1828) were placed inside the temple. After 1834 the temple was used as a museum since 1937 when the antiquities were taken away and excavations began around the area surrounding the Ancient Agora.
Sightseeings on Herakleidon street
On 66 Herakleidon and Thessalonikis street you will meet the Melina Merkouri Cultural Center. On the first floor there is a reproduction of an Athenian street in the early 20 th. The Haridimos shadow Puppet Museum-theater hosts a collection of puppets. Performances of the traditional show Karagiozis take place. The cultural center organizes lessons of figure- making every week.
On 16 Herakleidon Street you will meet the museum of Herakleidon. The philosophy of the museum is based on Science, Art and Mathematics. The visitors have the opportunity to learn through interaction with exhibits. On the first floor are exhibited the works of the French painter Victor Vasarely ( 1906-1997). The painter supported the “ social art” that communicates with all social classes and is not the privilege of the elite. On the second floor is housed the work of the Dutch print maker and graphic artist Maurits Cornelis Escher ( 1898- 1972). His prints are based on the interpretation of art in mathematical terms. The Museum Herakleidon involves art with the logic of mathematics.
Visit the Museum Gift Shop and buy souvenirs inspired by contemporary art.
37 Apostolou Pavlou street , Thiseio, +30 2110126486, access from the street level of Herakleidon
Pnyx Hill is a rocky hill surrounding Acropolis. It was the place where male- citizens gathered together to discuss on political issues and vote (ekklesia). The first form of democracy is considered to be born to the Pnyx Hill.
About the history
Pnyx A was probably constructed in the early 5 th century. It was a natural area where people sat on the hill and there was a retaining wall to the north. Pnyx B was probably constructed in the late 5th century. Nowdays it is preserved a part of the step terrace wall and a stone platform with stone steps leading to Bema where the orators could speak. Pnyx C was rebuilt in the 4 th century B.C. Male citizens met there and discussed on political issues and took decisions about war issues. Part of the Pnyx was used as a sanctuary of Zeus Hypsistos according to archaeologists. In 1 st century BC , the assembly gathered in the theater of Dionysus where there was more place . Other findings of the excavations are the two large stoas. They were used as shelters from people when the weather was bad, the altar of Zeus Agoraios and the sanctuary of Zeus Hypsistos.
Church of Saint Dimitrios the Bombardier
Between Pnyx Hill and Phillipappos hill is the church of Saint Dimitrios the Bombardier. According to a truly tale in 25 October 1658, Yusuf Aga, the commander of the Turkish garrison planned to bombard the church and the faithful. A thunderstorm broke out destroying the cannon before getting fired and the people were saved.
Hill of the Nymphs
The National Observatory is on the hill of the Nymphs. The building hosts the Geoastrophysics Museum, the library and the first optical telescope.
About the history
In 1842 the construction of the building began, after the donation of George Sinas who was a wealthy man and ambassador of Greece in Vienna.
The 16 cm meridian refracting telescope is housed to a small building next to Sina building. The telescope was used until 1964 to calculate the official time of Greece based on the transit time of stars.
Don’t miss to observe the Athenian sky by night with the Doridis telescope. Groups are organized for evening tours, so for reservations call 2103490160 or 2103490055.
Opening hours: from Monday to Friday from 9 am until 2 pm.
Entrance fee: 5 € for adults, 2,5 € for students
Train: station Thission
Entrance: from “ Pnikos” or “ Otrineon” streets
The church of Agia Marina
According to mythology nymphs protected women in childbirth. Christians consider Saint Marina as the protector of childbirth and pray for the health of children. The church of Agia Marina was incorporated to an older church. In the interior of the recent church visitors view wall paintings and icons from the period of the 13 th and 18 th century.