Posted by: Debra Kolkka | May 21, 2017

Up close with the Karyatids

I was most impressed with the Karyatids (female figures) on the Erechtheion at the Acropolis when we visited last week.

The amazing sculptures are copies, the originals, 5 of the 6, are in the Acropolis museum. One was stolen by Lord Elgin and is in the British Museum.

We visited the Acropolis Museum. It is a huge building located 300 metres south of the foot of the rock. It sits above remains revealed during excavations.

Photos are not allowed in some areas of the museum, but I was happy that find that the Karyatids are not on that list.

The 6 korai are 2.2 metres high. Instead of columns, they supported the low flat roof of the south porch of the temple. They are dressed in pleated robes, like flutes of columns. Their elaborate hairstyles are both decorative and add strength to the neck area of the sculptures.

It is an amazing feeling to be able to walk around and admire these beautiful sculptures that were created between 421 and 406 BC. Oh to have seen them when they were new!

The faces are worn away, but you can see how stunning they must have been.

From the back the hairstyles seem to have survived almost intact. The lighting is giving the sculptures a different colour.

On the third floor of the building is the rectangular gallery housing the Parthenon sculptures. The display is big enough to accommodate the entire sculpted decoration of the Parthenon. As far as possible the friezes are in the position they would have occupied on the Parthenon.

The frieze has a total length of 160 metres and a height of 1 metre and comprises of 115 stone blocks. An actual event is depicted. The Procession of the Panathenia, a festival celebrated every 4 years in honour of the goddess Athena.

This metopes was taken down recently from the Parthenon recently after 25 centuries to be exhibited in the museum. The battles of the centaurs were a favourite subject of the Athenians, a metaphor for the struggles between civilisation and barbarism.

It is difficult to describe the magnificence of the antiquities on display. People have created wonderful things for thousands of years.

What a pity greed, aggression and war have destroyed so much. How amazing the world would be if time, energy and money was put to good use instead of bad. All lives would be better.


  1. Debra, great to see how much you’ve enjoyed Athens.

    • We loved Athens! The 2 islands we visited were excellent too.

  2. As you say they are absolutely stunning I love sculptures like These It was great of you to find them The Greeks is where western Philosophy started Excellent well Done. Laurence x

    • It is incredible to walk among things that are so old.

  3. How fabulous! Thank you for sharing your visit and photos.

    • Greece is great, we will return to see much more.

  4. The details of those hairstyles are amazing. Thank you for sharing these great photos.

    • They all pretty good for their age.

  5. The skill of the long dead artists, standing in silent testimony, must be such an awesome and thrilling thing to stand beside. I agree that it is the most dreadful shame that ignorance and greed could destroy such things.

    • Greed destroys everything.

  6. They are all great sculptures and art… Especially the hair of women fascinated me. Amazing details… I can imagine. Thank you dear Debra, Love, nia

    • It was great to be able to see them close up.

  7. It is not only the skill in creating the carving that is fascinating but also how they were put into position at the Acropolis. What a great museum to visit.

    • The museum is amazing.

  8. The elaborate detail still visible is incredible!

  9. The sculptures, well. I am (almost) speechless. Trying to comprehend their age is one thing; but the skill and detail; the plaited hair, the flowing folds in their robes…mind boggling. Have shared this jaw-dropping post with others. Thank YOU!

    • They looked great from a distance, but even better close up.

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