Roman Agora

The Roman Agora


The Roman Agora (1) in Athens was built as a commodity market without a clear representative function. Nevertheless, the Romans did their best to provide the market with a monumental entrance in the form of a Doric temple with four columns, the gate of Athena Archegetis. An (eroded) inscription above the architrave mentions work by Caesar and Augustus on the market. The market itself was surrounded by a colonnade, which allowed the visitor to walk around the stalls sheltered from rain or sunshine. The Hadrian’s library (2), the public toilets from Roman times (3) and the Tower of the Winds (4) adjoin the market. The latrines are of the usual Roman type, with multi-person seats on the sides, and a water channel directly in front of the feet. The Tower of the Winds, also called the horologion of Andronikos Kyrrhestes, is one of the best preserved ancient structures of Athens. In the middle of the Roman Agora is another mosque from the time of Turkish rule.

The Tower of the Winds




The famous Tower of the Winds was built in the first century BC. built by the Syrian-Greek architect Andronikos of Kyrrhos. The tower served as a water and solar clock, weather vane and possibly a planetarium. On the marble frieze, the eight cardinal directions are depicted as flying wind gods, each with its own characteristic appearance. Originally the roof was decorated with a bronze triton that turned with the wind and indicated the prevailing wind on the frieze. A semicircular turret on the south side once contained the water reservoir needed for the water clock to work. The frieze is easily recognizable and shows different gods.

Boreas: He brings icy cold from the north. He is depicted as an old man with a beard and a stern face, feral hair and a beard  and with round cheeks. He is  blowing on a tritonshell.

Skiron: The northwest wind, the driest of them all. He is depicted as a bearded man holding a vase with the opening facing down.

Zephyrus: The mild westerly wind that brings spring-like weather. He looks like a happy young man, naked because of the warmth he brings, and he wears flowers in a separate rag or shawl.

Lips: A hot desert wind from southwestern Africa. The wind god holds part of a ship in his hands, possibly the remains of a Persian warship. After the battle of Salamis, a southwest wind blew the remains ashore.

Note: The humid south wind, a wild young man and a rain shower just like Eurus. He carries a pitcher in his hands.

Eurus: A wind that arrives from the southeast with oppressive rain and thunderstorms. The god looks surly, with disheveled hair and a beard, and is wrapped in a thick cloak.

Apeliotes: The warm east wind, depicted as a powerful young man wearing corn and fruit in his robes.

Kaikas: The wind from the northeast, bringing a storm and obscuring the sky with its clouds. Kaikas shakes hailstones from his shell.


In the Middle Ages, it was believed that Socrates was buried in this tower. Around 1750, the tower belonged to a Muslim sect, that of the dancing Dervishes.