Temple (Sanctuary) of Athena Polias in Pergamon: The Oldest Temple of Anatolia

Temple (Sanctuary) of Athena Polias in Pergamon: The Oldest Temple of Anatolia
The Temple of Athena in Pergamon, Depiction Picture by Yadegar Asisi

The Temple of Athena which was built on a point of the Pergamon acropolis that dominates the city and the sea is the first and only Doric Temple of Archaic Anatolian architecture. It was the oldest temple built in ancient times in Anatolia.

The temple, estimated to have been completed in 525 BC, was dedicated to Goddess Athena Polias. It was built in commemoration of the Goddess of Athena, “the messenger of victory”, “protector of the city” and “goddess of wisdom and victory”.

The Temple of Athena

The andesite stone extracted from the nearby quarries was used in the temple. The durability of the andesite stone, which is difficult to process, has brought the temple to the present day.

The Temple of Athena

The crepe of the temple consists of 2 steps. Originally built by carving rocks, the temple was further strengthened with andesite stones over time. In other words, the temple rests on a ground consisting of 2 steps.

The temple is surrounded by 6 dor columns on the short side and 13 on the long side.

The Temple of Athena

The altar of the Temple which was built inside or outside the temple for sacrifices to the gods as a tradition in ancient Greek temples was not found in the temple. It is estimated that the altar of the temple used to offer votive offerings to the gods might have been destroyed during the Byzantine period.

The Propylon of the Temple of Athena was smuggled to Germany in the 19th century. It is currently exhibited at the Berlin Museum.

The Propylon of Temple of Athena
Propylon is an outer monumental gateway standing before a main gateway.

Propylon, built by Eumenes II of Bergama at the beginning of the 2nd century BC, consists of two floors. There are 4 Doric columns on the ground floor and 4 Ionic columns and armor-weapon reliefs on the upper floor. Above the ground floor, there is an inscription dedicated to Eumenes by Athena Nikephoros.

The inner structure of the temple consists of a front room called “pronaos” and a sacred room called “naos”.

Thus the Sanctuary had been the science and art center of the Acropolis beside its religious role.

The temple was transformed into a library later.

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