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The Areopagus in Athens

The Areopagus (Arios Pagos), is located just to the right of the exit of the Acropolis. It is also known as the “Hill of Ares”. In classical times, this was the site of the Council of Nobles and the Judicial Court, that mainly dealt with homicide.

The Areopagus Hill

It is said that Ares was tried here by the Gods for the murder of Alirrothios, one of the sons of Poseidon. Another trial said to have taken place here was that of Orestes, who was alleged to have killed his mother Clytemnestra, and her lover Aegisthus.

In the preclassical times, the Areopagus was where the council of the elders of the city would meet. The members were actually those who were held in high regard in public office. In 480 BC, the hill was used as a campsite by the Persians, when they were undertaking their siege of the Acropolis.

During the Roman period, the Areopagus continued to function, as did many other institutes of the various city-states. It was also at the Areopagus that Saint Paul preached the famous “Sermon on an Unknown God”, apparently after seeing an alter to the “Unknown God”. This speech is commemorated with a bronze plaque that you can see at the foot of the rock.

Visitors today will not find any ruins of temples on this hill. There are several cuttings into the rock of foundations, but nothing else. The hill though is one that offers a fantastic view over Athens, especially the Ancient Agora, which is located just underneath it.

However, be warned that this hill is very slippery as, after years of people climbing up and down, the rock has been worn down to a very shiny and slippery surface. If you do want to venture upwards, make sure you are wearing practical shoes. To climb up on to the Areopagus, there are large steps that you need to climb. There are only about 7-8 steps, though these are much larger steps than normal.

Though heading up the steps may seem relatively easy, it is coming back down them where you need to be careful. One method that many people use is to actually sit on the top step, and then move down slowly, to be seated on the step beneath. Once at the top, be careful when walking around, especially near the edges, as they drop downwards is a big one, and there are no barriers or protection around the edges to stop you from slipping completely over. If with young children, it is probably advisable to not take them up with you.

Useful Information

Opening Hours:
The site of the Areopagus is always open, though visiting during daylight is recommended.

Entrance Fee / Prices:
No Admission fee

Location:
The Areopagus is located just a short distance from the Entrance to the Acropolis.


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