The South Slope of the Acropolis was from the beginning a pole of attraction for the inhabitants of Athens because of its terrain, its natural protection and the existence of sources of drinking water. From the archaic times on, the establishment of important sanctuaries and theatrical buildings on the south side of the Acropolis gave great religious, cultural and spiritual significance.

The oldest traces of human presence in the South Slope of the Acropolis, dated from the Neolithic period (4th millennium B.C.) recovered at the west of the Asklepieion and from the cave north of the theatre of Dionysus. West of the Asklepieion a prehistoric tumulus, probably of Middle Helladic times (1900-1600 B.C.), was excavated at the end of the 19th century. North of the Stoa of Eumenes have also been discovered wells of the Late Helladic period (1600 - 1050 B.C.)

ิhe springhouse constructed in archaic times on the natural terrace, where later the Asclepieion founded and the archaic temple of Dionysus in the Sanctuary of Dionysus Elefthereus consisted the first proven constructions of the archaic period in the South Slope of the Acropolis. The formation of a circular area slightly north of the temple, used for the celebration of the cult dance in honor of the god, is dated in the same period (second half of the 6th century BC.). This area gradually took the form of the Theatre of Dionysus where the works of the great dramatists of antiquity were "taught".

In the 5th century. B.C., in the western part of Asclepieion, a stoa erected with four rooms, which is considered the earliest building of the sanctuary as well as the Odeon of Pericles, to the east of the theatre of Dionysus. In the 4th century. B.C., in the eastern part of the Asclepieion the temple of Asclepius together with the altar and the Doric stoa at the north, were constructed.

Around 330 B.C., in the archonship of Lykourgos, the Sanctuary and the Theatre of Dionysus in the eastern part of the South Slope of the Acropolis were completely configured. In that period the Later Temple of Dionysus, with the altar in the east, and the so-called Doric stoa in the northern part of the sanctuary are, probably dated. At the same time, the theater acquired its monumental dimensions and form. It was constructed entirely by stone and was extended up the foothill of the Acropolis rock, including Peripatos, the road that ran around the hill. Around 320 B.C. the choregic monuments of Thrasyllos, north of the theater of Dionysus and the choregic monument of Nicias west of the cavea of the theatre, were added.

In the 2nd century B.C., in the area west of the theater of Dionysus, the Stoa of Eumenes erected, which was donated to the city by the king of Pergamon, Eumenes II. In the 2nd century A.D., on the western edge of the area, Herodes of Atticus built the magnificent Odeon which bears his name, in memory of his wife, Regilla.

The predominance of Christianity brought about significant changes in the South Slope of the Acropolis. The 5th-6th century A.D. almost the entire area of the old Asclepieion was occupied by the three-aisled Early Christian Basilica of the Aghioi Anargyroi, in the construction of which the temple of Asclepius, its altar and the most part of the Doric stoa of the Sanctuary of Asclepius and the Roman stoa, were incorporated. Another Early Christian Basilica was built in the middle of the same century, in the east parodos of the theatre of Dionysus. Several centuries later, in the 11th or 12th century A.D., slightly further east of the basilica which had been already destroyed, the church of St. George the Alexandrian was built, which was destroyed during the Greek Revolution.

In the 13th century A.D. the so-called Rizocastro fortification wall was built around the base of the Acropolis. The section of the wall from the Odeon of Herodes of Atticus until the theatre of Dionysus, known as the bastion of Serpentze, was maintained during the first phase of Turkish domination (1456-1687). It seems that in those years the South Slope of the Acropolis was resettled, since it remained deserted during the Frankish domination. In 1778 the entire area of the south side was enclosed by the Hasekis wall. By then the monuments of the area were already covered by enormous earthfills. Only the settlement grown up during the Turkish domination in the south east edge of the area continued to exist in the years that followed. In the 1960s, the buildings of the settlement gradually expropriated and demolished, expanding eastward as far as Thrasyllos street and southward to Dionysiou Areopagitou street.

The exploration and excavation of the South Slope of the Acropolis was a major project of the Archaeological Society with main periods those as followed: From 1848-1858 the Archaeological Society began clearing of Odeon of Herodes Atticus. In the years 1862-1867, the Archaeological Society in collaboration with the German Archaeological Institute was undertaken the excavation of the most part of the Theatre and the Sanctuary of Dionysus. Finally, from 1876-1879 the Archaeological Society conducted extensive excavation over nearly all the South Slope of the Acropolis, where the ruins of Aslepieion as well as the Stoa of Eumenes were fully exposed. The remnants of Odeon of Pericles were discovered in 1914-1931. The years that followed archaeological and restoration works carried out by the 1st Ephorate of the Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, which revealed smaller monuments of the site or contributed to a better understanding of the already revealed ones.
Efi Gianikapani, archaeologist
Mythological / Historic Persons