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Athenian Agora - The Stoa of Attalos 1

Athenian Agora - The Stoa of Attalos Page One

stoa of attalosThe Stoa of Attalos, restored to its former glory in the 1950s and now housing the Agora Museum, dominates the east side of the Agora. (left center) It was originally built by Attalos II, who ruled the Hellenistic kingdom of Pergamon (on the west coast of modern Turkey) from 159-138 BC.

Like his older brother Eumenes, who also dedicated a stoa to the city of Athens (the Stoa of Eumenes on the South Slope of the Acropolis), Attalos II had studied in Athens.

When Eumenes died, Attalos married his widow and became king. An inscription on the architrave of the Stoa of Attalos gives the name of its benefactor: ‘King Attalos, son of King Attalos and Queen Apollonis, built the stoa … to the demos of the Athenians.’ In front of the Stoa a ‘Donor’s monument’ was set up, consisting of a high stone base, reaching to the second storey, that would have carried a bronze quadriga (chariot with four horses).

The Stoa of Attalos is an impressive rectangular building, 116 m long and 20 m deep, with two storeys. Each of these storeys has two rows of 45 columns. On the bottom floor, the outer row is in the Doric order, and the inner one in the Ionic order. Upstairs (not accessible) there are Ionic columns along the balustrade and so-called Pergamene columns inside. The latter do not belong to the traditional Greek orders, but have stylized palm leaves and are based on Egyptian prototypes. Each storey also had 21 rooms against the back wall, which were rented out by the state as shops. The Stoa of Attalos may therefore be considered as the first ‘shopping mall’.

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