What Were the Hilltop in Ancient Greece City States Called?

What Were the Hilltop in Ancient Greece City States Called?

When studying ancient Greece, one cannot help but be fascinated by the architectural wonders that adorned the city-states. One particular feature that stands out is the hilltops, which held great significance in ancient Greek society.

These elevated areas were not only strategically advantageous but also served as centers of power and worship. Let’s explore what these hilltops were called and their importance in ancient Greece.

The Acropolis

The most famous hilltop in ancient Greece is undoubtedly the Acropolis. Derived from the Greek words “akron” meaning edge or summit, and “polis” meaning city, the Acropolis was a fortified complex situated on a high rocky outcrop overlooking a city-state.

The Acropolis served as a symbol of pride and unity for the people living below. It was often home to important temples dedicated to various gods and goddesses, such as the Parthenon dedicated to Athena, the patron goddess of Athens.

The Agora

While not technically a hilltop, the Agora played a significant role in ancient Greek city-states. The Agora was an open space located at the foot of hills or near marketplaces where people gathered for various activities.

The word “agora” translates to “gathering place” or “assembly.”

It was here that citizens would meet to discuss civic matters, engage in commerce, and socialize. The Agora was often surrounded by important buildings such as government offices, law courts, and sanctuaries.

The Pnyx

Another noteworthy hilltop in ancient Greece was the Pnyx. Located just west of the Acropolis in Athens, it served as an outdoor assembly area for democratic meetings.

The Pnyx was an amphitheater-like space where citizens gathered to debate and vote on important issues. It was the birthplace of democracy, with notable figures like Pericles delivering influential speeches from its elevated platform.

The Cadmeia

In Thebes, the hilltop known as the Cadmeia played a crucial role in the city-state’s history. The Cadmeia served as a fortress and citadel, protecting the city and symbolizing its strength.

Legend has it that the Cadmeia was named after Cadmus, the mythical founder of Thebes. It housed important structures like palaces and temples dedicated to deities such as Dionysus.

The Lycabettus

Lastly, we have the Lycabettus Hill in Athens. While not a prominent center of power or worship, it offers breathtaking views of the city.

The Lycabettus Hill is often visited by tourists and locals alike who climb to its summit to witness magnificent panoramas of Athens stretching all the way to the Aegean Sea.


Ancient Greece’s hilltops represented more than just geographical features; they were symbols of power, culture, and civic life. From the grandeur of the Acropolis to the democratic spirit of the Pnyx, these elevated areas played a significant role in shaping ancient Greek civilization.

Next time you visit Greece or study its rich history, pay attention to these hilltops and appreciate their significance in ancient Greek city-states.