September 26, 1687: Venetian forces at war with Ottoman Turks stationed in Athens bomb the area and destroy part of the Parthenon. The Parthenon was built by the ancient Greeks in the 5th century BC as a temple to Athena. The name of the temple probably derives from the name of the monumental statue of Athena Parthenos that was in the eastern room of the building. The “Parthenos” refers to Athena’s virginal and unmarried status.
The Parthenon replaced an older temple that was destroyed by an earlier war with the Persians. The temple was not used only for religious purposes, but like most temples of the time, as a treasury as well. The temple was built on The Acropolis, or raised city, of Athens. It represented the ideal form of civilization with architectural masterpieces erected. The most important of these was the Parthenon.
Measured at the top step, the base of the Parthenon is 228 x 101.4 feet while the inner temple is 97.8 x 63 feet with two tiers of Doric columns. The columns are 31 feet [10.4 m] tall and measure 6.2 feet in diameter. The roof was overlapping marble tiles and needed the columns for support. There were 92 marble panels carved with each side of the building having a theme of various battles by the gods and man.
In the 6th century AD, the Parthenon was converted to a Christian church. During the Turkish and Venetian war, the Turks were using the building as an ammunitions dump. When it was hit with a Venetian cannonball, the explosion damaged a large portion of the wall and many sculptures. In the 19th century, Lord Elgin removed many more of the marble sculptures and took them to England where they are displayed in the British Museum.
“Earth proudly wears the Parthenon as the best gem upon her zone.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The Parthenon without the marbles is like a smile with a tooth missing.” – Neil Kinnock
“I can’t really remember the names of the clubs that we went to. “– Shaquille O’Neal, when asked whether he had visited the Parthenon during his trip to Greece
“Architecture is inhabited sculpture.” – Constantin Brancusi
Also on this day, in 1774 John Chapman, known to history as Johnny Appleseed, was born.