Richard Nowitz

In 480 B.C. the Persians attacked Athens and destroyed much of its high, temple-rich Acropolis. Thirty years later, Athens had emerged as the capital of a league of city-states. In 447 B.C. the Athenian leader Pericles began a massive restoration of the Acropolis to show off the city’s newfound power; he commissioned architects to build the Parthenon (shown here) and the sculptor Phidias to oversee the carving of its marbles. The temple was completed in 432 B.C.

Over the millennia, the Parthenon has been badly damaged by fire, war and plundering. Today the great temple is plagued by corrosive pollution and tourist traffic. The Greek government has begun to reconstruct the Acropolis’s temples and is planning to build a special museum in which it hopes to house the Parthenon marbles.