erechtheion sketch

Inside the Acropolis of Athens, on the south façade of the temple of Erechtheion we find the Portico of the Caryatids, a tribune composed of six sculpted figures of women 2.3 meters high, which serve as a column to support the entablature.

They are representations of female citizens from Caria, in Lacedemonia. That city had collaborated with the Persian enemy in the Medical Wars and Athens had declared war, and after exterminating the men had sold their women as slaves.

temple of athena niketemple in athens, greece

I transcribe the article published by Ariadne’s Ananda: The address of the Blog is given at the end of the article. The page is about art comments and not about architecture. Very well written article.

The Erechtheion is one of the most complex and irregular buildings of all Greek architecture. This is an exception to confirm the rule of uniformity and constructive rationality of Greek art.

All these circumstances forced the architect to build obviating the irregularities of the terrain and the unevenness of the space, because the obligation to respect the sacred place as it was had to prevail.

From the purely architectural point of view, the Erechtheion is an austere building, because it lacks columns on the side walls and Ionic order. The eastern and main portico is higher, gives access to the cella of Athena Polyas and is a hexastyle Ionic facade. Inside was the statue of the goddess made of olive wood. The western part is dedicated to Poseidon, and is three meters lower than the eastern one. Access to the cella is through a vestibule located on the north side, which opens a tretrástila and Ionic facade with four columns in front and two on the sides.


Pilar de carga con la figura de una mujer, Antigua Grecia y posteriormente El pórtico de la Cariátide del Erecteión en Atenas, Grecia. Actualmente son réplicas. Los originales se encuentran en el Museo de la Acrópolis (y uno en el Museo Británico).

Una cariátide (/ˌkæriˈætɪd/ KARR-ee-AT-id; griego antiguo: Καρυάτις, pl. Καρυάτιδες) es una figura femenina esculpida que sirve de soporte arquitectónico ocupando el lugar de una columna o un pilar que sostiene un entablamento sobre su cabeza. El término griego karyatides significa literalmente “doncellas de Karyai”, una antigua ciudad del Peloponeso. Karyai tenía un templo dedicado a la diosa Artemisa en su aspecto de Artemisa Karyatis: “Como Karyatis se regocijaba en las danzas del pueblo de los nogales de Karyai, esos Karyatides, que en su extático baile en redondo llevaban sobre sus cabezas cestas de cañas vivas, como si fueran plantas danzantes”[1].

El origen del término no está claro. El arquitecto romano Vitruvio lo utilizó por primera vez en la forma latina caryatides. En su obra De architectura (I.1.5), del siglo I a.C., afirmó que las figuras femeninas del Erecteión representaban el castigo de las mujeres de Caria, una ciudad cercana a Esparta, en Laconia, condenadas a la esclavitud tras traicionar a Atenas al ponerse del lado de Persia en las guerras greco-persas. Sin embargo, la explicación de Vitruvio es dudosa; mucho antes de las guerras persas, las figuras femeninas se utilizaban como soportes decorativos en Grecia[2] y en el antiguo Oriente Próximo. Sea cual sea el origen, la asociación de las cariátides con la esclavitud persiste y es frecuente en el arte del Renacimiento[3].

the acropolis where the parthenon is

ANALYSIS OF THE WORK: Made of Pentelic marble, we are faced with a complex and original temple that was to be erected in an enclosure where ancient cults were performed and where the miraculous gifts made by the gods Poseidon and Athena in their dispute for the dominion of Athens were preserved. It was also the place where the legendary kings Erechtheus and Cecrope were worshipped. Therefore the function of this building was religious, but also of political exaltation.

The building is surrounded by an entablature consisting of an architrave formed by three superimposed bands, frieze, with a continuous relief and cornice similar to the Doric. It had a pediment and a gabled roof. It highlights the evolution of the Ionic style visible in the slenderness of the columns and the refinement of the sculptural decoration.