This ancient market and meeting place has benefitted from extensive restoration and also houses a fascinating museum.
The origins of the Stoa of Attalos lie in the generosity of King Attalos II of Pergamon, who wished to commemorate his happy time studying philosophy in Athens with a gift to the city. This fine double colonnade is the result. The stoa, or covered walkway, served as a market and meeting place in ancient Greece and the gift of Attalos is one of the most impressive stoae in all Athens. Situated within the Ancient Agora, it was the city’s most prestigious shopping location from around 150 BC until it was destroyed by the Herulians three centuries later.
The two-storied double colonnade originally comprised 42 shops and extends to 115 metres in length. Ancient and modern visitors alike have appreciated the way it is cleverly designed to fan cool breezes through its arches, providing much-needed relief from the heat of the city and the glare of the midday sun.
During the 1950s the stoa was painstakingly restored, using materials similar to the original limestone and marble sourced from quarries in Paraeus and on Mount Penteli. Over 150 master masons and craftsmen incorporated the new materials into the historic remains to recreate the original features of this architectural masterpiece.
Within the stoa you will find the Museum of the Ancient Agora, which takes around an hour to visit. This fascinating museum houses artefacts from ancient Greece as well as coins, sculptures and other treasures from the 4th century BC to the 6th century AD, examples of exotic Byzantine pottery and items of historical interest dating from the Turkish occupation. The compact museum occupies ten of the refurbished shop premises on the first floor. Near the entrance are some impressive sculptures depicting historical and mythological figures, which are worth pausing to admire at the beginning or end of your visit.
The Stoa of Attalos is in the centre of Athens and is easily reached on foot from the Acropolis or by public transport. It is open daily, and entrance is included in the price of admission to the Acropolis.