Arguably, the Parthenon is one of the most recognizable images in the world. It was built between 447 and 438 BCE, to honor the goddess Athena, patroness of Athens.
The building of the Parthenon was supervised by the sculptor Phidias and built by the architects Ictinus and Callicrates during the "Golden Age" of Greece,
also known as the Classical Period of Greek architecture and sculpture.
The ambitious building program on the Acropolis was initiated by Pericles when the Athenian empire enjoyed its greatest period of political and cultural influence.
The Parthenon is one of several structures on the Acropolis, (which means "high city"), and it
originally held an enormous cryselephantine (gold and ivory) statue of the goddess which has long been lost and is only known from descriptions.
The tyrant Lycares is thought by some to have removed the statue in 296 BCE and sold the gold to pay his army;
The Parthenon was converted into a Christian church in the 5th century AD. By the 1460's it had been turned into a Mosque.
The current state of the Parthenon's destruction is due to its being used by the Turks to store gunpowder,
which was blown up during a Venetian siege in 1687, demolishing the major part of the temple, including Phidias's pediment sculptures.
Between 1801- 1805, the Turks (who controlled Greece at that time), allowed Lord Elgin, then British Ambassador to the Sultan's court in Istanbul,
to remove the Parthenon's remaining marble pediment sculptures, along with material from other temples on the Acropolis, and take them to England.
These architectural features were bought by Parliament and in 1816 given to the British Museum in London, where they are now on display.
The Greek government continually petitions the Brits for the return of the marbles, to date with no success.
Meanwhile, the New Acropolis Museum's top floor (which looks out on the Parthenon through a glass wall)
is structured with copies of the marbles as they were originally placed so that the visitors can understand how they were originally sited,
and with the hope that someday the originals will be returned and set in place of the copies.
Originally the Parthenon's sculptures were brightly painted, as was most all ancient sculpture.
The paint has weathered and worn off through the ages, making it hard to visualize the original appearance
when we look at the pristine white Greek sculpture today.