Athens Walls: From neolithic times to ottoman period

Athens Walls could be examined better in 5 main interventions, the first on Acropolis, second on the foot, third until Piraeus, fourth in medieval times and fifth in ottoman times.

Acropolis wall view

1. It is commonly known that Acropolis hill was inhabitanted since the Neolithical era. In the beginning of 13th century BC the first palace was built and the first fortification- Cyclopean Wall, when mythological king Aegeas, father of Theseus, was rulling Athens. During Aegeas’ great grandfathers’ times Athenians were taught farming and wine making. Athens became a small city, not yet a state.

2. The second phase of the Wall, is called Pelasgic or Pelargic Wall or Nine Gates Wall (Enneapylon), at the foot of Acropolis.  During the Archaic period, more building we made, and in the end of 6th century it was no longer a fortress, but a religious center and a treasure.

3. Athens was destroyed after Persian invasion of 480 BC and its defense strategy was redesignhed. The third and best

Athens Walls today next to Agora

fortification line connection Athens with Piraeus was Themistocles’ wall, built in 479 BC, the Wall that gave Athens the defense to rule the ancient world. It was 6500 metres in perimeter and had 13 gates. The Walls were finished by Cimon in 456 BC and completed by Pericles ten years later.

Most of the Long Walls’ parts were demolished after Athens defeat in Peloponnesian War in 404, but Athens regained its power very soon and in 395-394 BC a part of the Wall was rebuilt again. Athens was rebuilding its empire, but Macedonias stopped it. In order to defense them, Athenians built Proteichisma in 338 BC, so the Nymph, Mouson and Pnyx hills were protected by a defense wall. After Alexander’s Macedonia the Long Walls had no use.Diateichisma was built in 280 BC. 

Fauvel plan, Athens map end of 18th century. γ =Rizokastro, ε=serpetzes, στ=Ypapanti’s Wall, Ζ= Haseki’s Wall

Athens Walls were in not that bad condition, but were destroyed during Roman Sulla raid to Athens (87-86 BC). It was the time that Athens lost its ancient glory, and the time that was becoming a more religious center started. Athens was already a Roman province.

Valerian built new fortifications in 260 AD, in order to protect city from Barbarians attacking Roman empire. Following the sack of Heruli in 267 AD, a new fortification was added in 280 AD. After 529 AD, Athens lost its glory, but remained an important city during Byzantium.

4. Rizokastro was built in 11th century around Acropolis.

5. Haseki Wall, built in 1778.