Hadrian’s Arch In Athens

Hadrian's Arch is one of the must-see landmarks in Athens when visiting the city. Here’s some information about the Arch of Hadrian.

hadrian's arch in athens, greece

Arch of Hadrian

If you are planning to spend a day or two in Athens to check out the highlights, you’ll come across the Arch of Hadrian sooner or later.

This triumphal arch is one of the best preserved surviving monuments of ancient Athens. It’s not surrounded by fencing, and is free to walk around and admire.

Hadrian's Gate is found just outside the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and you’ll pass it when walking from the this temple to the Acropolis Museum and Acropolis.

The Arch of Hadrian in Athens Greece

Hadrian's Arch

The arch is a prominent historical landmark in Athens, stands as a testament to the city's rich Roman heritage and architectural prowess.

This grandiose structure, built in 131 AD, was erected to honor the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Notable for its historical significance and architectural grandeur, the Arch has been a witness to the evolution of Athens through centuries.

The ceremonial arch of Hadrian is one of the most important landmarks in athens

Roman Emperor Hadrian

Emperor Hadrian, ruling from 117 to 138 AD, was a fervent admirer of Greek culture and significantly enriched Athens. He was bestowed Athenian citizenship and held the title of eponymous archon, highlighting his deep connection to the city. Under his patronage, Athens saw architectural marvels like Hadrian's Library. This Roman Emperor's reign symbolized a harmonious blend of Roman and Greek cultures, with Athens flourishing culturally and architecturally during his time.

Visiting The Arch of Hadrian in Athens

There's no entry fee to the arch, and you can include it as a photo stop of a walking itinerary around Athens.

You don’t need to spend more than 5 minutes here really. You will probably need longer if you want a photo without other tourists in the way though!

There is an information board by the arch, describing its link with Roman Athens. Here are some of the basic facts about the arch which was once a part of the ancient city wall of Athens.

Hadrian's Arch in Athens

Key aspects of Hadrian's Arch include:

Historical Context and Construction: Hadrian's Arch was constructed by the Athenians in 131 AD as a tribute to Emperor Hadrian. It was built during a period when Hadrian undertook several projects in Athens, contributing significantly to the city's development​​. The arch is made from Pentelic marble and stands on the ancient road that led from the old section of Athens to the newer Roman section.

Architectural Features: Standing at 18 meters tall, the Arch is a monumental gate made of marble. It's not just a historical artifact; it's also an impressive example of Roman-era architecture. The Arch has remarkably survived through the centuries and remains intact to this day​​​​.

the arch of hadrian athens greece

Symbolic Inscriptions: On the structure, there are two inscriptions. One side of the Arch states Athens as “the ancient city of Theseus,” while the other side refers to it as “the city of Hadrian and not of Theseus.” These inscriptions symbolize the duality of Athens' ancient heritage and its Roman influences, acknowledging both the city's past and its evolution under Roman rule​​.

Location and Significance: The Arch is strategically located just outside the Temple of Zeus and on the walking route to the Acropolis. This positioning highlights the transition from the ancient part of Athens to the newer city developed under Hadrian's administration. It's a popular spot for tourists, offering a unique photo opportunity with the Acropolis visible along one of the side streets​​​​.

Part of a Larger System: Interestingly, Hadrian's Arch was part of a larger system that included walls and gates encircling the entire city of Athens. This fact underscores its role not just as a ceremonial monument but also as an integral part of the city's urban structure during the Roman era​​.

Why does Hadrian's arch stand in Athens, Greece?

Hadrian's Arch stands in Athens as a tribute to the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who visited the city in the 2nd century AD. It symbolizes the strong historical ties between Athens and the Roman Empire.

Where was the Arch of Hadrian?

The Arch of Hadrian is located in the city of Athens, Greece. It specifically marks the boundary between the old city of Athens and the new city built under Hadrian's rule.

When was Hadrian in Athens?

Emperor Hadrian visited Athens in AD 131-132. During his visit, he made significant contributions to the city's architecture and culture, including the construction of the arch.

What is the inscription on the Arch of Hadrian?

The arch bears an inscription that reads, “This is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus.” It reflects Hadrian's respect for Athens' rich history and heritage.

Exploring Hadrian's Arch offers a glimpse into the historical layers of Athens, where ancient Greek and Roman elements intertwine. Its enduring presence amidst the modern cityscape of Athens makes it a fascinating stop for any history enthusiast or traveler.

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Dave Briggs visiting an island in GreeceDave Briggs
Dave is a travel writer from the UK who has been living in the city of Athens since 2015. As well as writing about Hadrian’s Arch, he's written hundreds of other insightful travel guides to destinations all over Greece. Follow Dave on social media for travel inspiration from Athens and beyond:

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