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Parthenon, Acropolis, Athens

The Parthenon was a temple of Athena, built in the 5th century BC on the Acropolis of Athens. It is the best-known remaining building of Ancient Greece, and has been praised as the finest achievement of Greek architecture. Its decorative sculpture is considered one of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece and of Athenian democracy, and it is regarded as one of the world's greatest cultural monuments.

The name of the Parthenon likely derives from the monumental cult statue of Athena Parthenos housed in the eastern room of the building. This statue was sculpted in ivory and gold by Phidias; Athena's epithet parthenos ("virgin") refers to the goddess's unmarried and virginal status.

The Parthenon replaced an older temple of Athena that had been destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. Like most Greek temples, the Parthenon was used as a treasury, and for a time served as the treasury of the Delian League, which later became the Athenian Empire.

In the 6th century AD the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin; after the Turkish conquest, it was converted into a mosque. In 1687 AD, a Turkish ammunition dump inside the building was ignited by a Venetian cannonball; the resulting explosion severely damaged the Parthenon and its sculptures. In the 19th century AD, Lord Elgin removed some of the surviving sculptures and took them to England. These sculptures, now known as the Elgin Marbles, are on display in the British Museum. An ongoing dispute concerns whether the Elgin Marbles should be returned to Greece.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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