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Choragic Monument of Lysicrates

The Lysicrates Monument has a long history about it, and is one site that many will see when passing through the streets of Plaka. It is situated very close to the “Dionysos Theatre”, and it was a performance at the theatre itself which led to the building of this monument.

Lysicrates Monument in Athens

In ancient Athens, many of the wealthy citizens would sponsor performances held at the “Dionysos Theatre”. The wealthy Athenians were known as “choregoi”. Lysicrates was one of these people, and in 344 BC, one of the performances that he had sponsored was awarded first prize. After receiving the honours, Lysicrates financed and built the monument which we see today.

In 1658, a Capuchin monastery was founded on the site by a group of French monks, who had purchased the monument from the Turks. The monument was used as a library and reading room for the monks. One of the panels of the monument on the north side was removed when the monks opened an entrance. During his second visit to Greece, Lord Byron, (whose name is celebrated all over the country in the form of street names– Vironos), stayed here as a guest.

In 1818, the first tomatoe plant in Greece was grown here, after Father Francis brought the seeds from abroad and planted them. During the Greek revolution, the monastery was destroyed. Strangely, in 1829, a foreign traveler was actually granted permission by the monks to take the monument with him, but it was too heavy to do so. Lord Elgin also had his eyes on this monument, after looting much of the treasures of the Parthenon and Acropolis, though he was stopped this time by the monks.

The monument itself is 6.5 meters (21 ft) in height, with a diameter of approximately 3 meters (9 ft). The body of the monument, known as the cella, is decorated with six Corinthian columns. The monument was actually the first building to have external Corinthian columns, which had previously been used internally. The monument was also adorned with decorative friezes and sculptures.

Archaeological work undertaken in the second half of the 1840s, was carried out in search of missing architectural parts of the monument. By 1887, restoration work had been carried out and completed.

At Lysicrates Square, where the monument is located, excavations were carried out between 1982 and 1985. Here, the remains of foundations of other choregic monuments were discovered, as well as some Byzantine tombs. Though small in size, this site is well worth a visit, especially during the evening when it is beautifully lit up. Around the square are various cafes and restaurants where one can enjoy a meal or drink.

Useful Information

Opening Hours:
The site of the Lysicrates Monument is always viewable any time of the day.

Entrance Fee / Prices:
No Admission Fee

Location:
The Lysicates Monument is located in Plaka at the end of Lysicrates Street, a short walk from Hadrian's Arch.


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