The Columns of Olympian Zeus
Construction began in the sixth century BC, during the rule of the tyrant of Athens, Peisistratus. Construction was halted under Athenian democracy, as the temple was deemed a symbol of tyranny.
In the Hellenistic period Antiochus IV Epiphanes, King of Syria, attempted to resume construction but work was again interrupted when he died. Still only half-finished, the temple was seriously damaged by Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who sacked Athens in 86 BC.
The project was finally completed according to its original design, under the Philhellene emperor Hadrian in 131 AC. The temple was abandoned and badly damaged again during the Herulian sack of Athens in the third century, when most of the columns were quarried for use as building materials.
Sixteen columns remain today, 15 of which are still standing. Apart from the main temple, the site also contains the remains of Roman thermal baths, Classical-era residences, foundations of an early Christian basilica and parts of the city’s Roman fortifications.