What Is a Acropolis in Ancient Greece?

An acropolis was a fortified hilltop in ancient Greece that was used for a variety of purposes. The word “acropolis” comes from the Greek words “akron,” meaning “highest point,” and “polis,” meaning “city.” Acropolises were typically located in the center of a city and were used for religious, political, and military purposes.

Religious Purposes

One of the primary uses of an acropolis was for religious purposes. Many ancient Greek cities had temples located on their acropolises, which were considered to be sacred sites.

The most famous example of this is the Parthenon, which is located on the Acropolis in Athens. The Parthenon was built in honor of the goddess Athena, who was considered to be the patron deity of Athens.

Political Purposes

Acropolises were also often used for political purposes. In many cases, they served as a citadel or fortress that could be used to defend the city against invaders. They also served as a symbol of power and authority, as they were often visible from throughout the city.

Military Purposes

As mentioned above, acropolises were often used for military purposes. Due to their elevated position and defensive walls, they provided an advantageous position from which to defend against attackers. Additionally, they often contained armories and other military facilities.

The Structure of an Acropolis

The structure of an acropolis varied depending on its location and purpose. However, most acropolises had several common features.

They typically had fortified walls that surrounded the perimeter of the hilltop. Within these walls were various structures such as temples, palaces, and other buildings.


Temples were one of the most common structures found on an acropolis. They were typically located at the highest point of the hilltop and were dedicated to various gods and goddesses. The most famous example of this is the Parthenon, which was built in honor of Athena.


In some cases, acropolises also contained palaces or other residences for the ruling elite. These structures were often highly ornate and served as symbols of power and authority. They were typically located towards the center of the hilltop, close to the temples.

Other Structures

In addition to temples and palaces, acropolises also contained a variety of other structures such as theaters, stadiums, and marketplaces. These structures were used for a variety of purposes such as entertainment and commerce.

The Significance of Acropolises in Ancient Greece

Acropolises played a significant role in ancient Greek culture. They were not only important for religious, political, and military purposes but also served as symbols of power and authority. Additionally, they were often highly ornate and served as examples of ancient Greek architecture.

Overall, acropolises are an important part of ancient Greek history and culture. They provide insight into the beliefs, values, and practices of this fascinating civilization.