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Athens Tower of the Winds is World’s Oldest Meteorological Station

Tower of the WindsTower of the Winds below the Acropolis Hill. Credit: NikosFF/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

The Tower of the Winds in Athens is the oldest meteorological station in the world, and one of the most important ancient monuments in Greece.

Standing just below the Acropolis, in the middle of the ancient Roman Agora, the Tower of the Winds was built in the 1st century BC. It is also called Αέριδες (Aerides) by the Greeks, meaning winds.

It is a beautiful-looking octagonal tower, standing 13.5 meters (44.3 feet) high with a diameter of about 8 meters (26 feet), and is made of the well-known Pentelic marble.

Grecian Delight supports GreeceTower of the WindsAnother view of the Tower of the Winds. Credit: Joanbanjo/Wikimedia Commons Joanbanjo – Own work

CC BY-SA 3.0

The tower through the ages

The history of the Tower of the Winds monument inside the Roman Agora followed the history of Athens itself.

In Christian times, the Aerides became an Orthodox church and a cemetery was built in the surrounding area.

When the Byzantine Empire collapsed after the fall of Constantinople, Greece was taken over by the Ottomans.

The monument became a place of prayer for the Order of the Mevlevi Dervishes and was named “Brakis’ tekke.”

It was then that dervishes opened the windows that did not exist when the tower was built.

Ironically, it was for the sake of the Mevlevi Dervishes that the Tower of the Winds is still in place in Athens.

Lord Elgin, the man who removed the Parthenon Sculptures to England, had his eyes on the particular monument as well.

Lord Elgin wanted to move the whole Tower of the Winds to England but the Mevlevi Devishes did not allow it.

After the liberation of Greece from the Ottomans, the Athenians of the time believed that the structure was a temple dedicated to the god of winds, Aeolus, hence the name of Aeolus Street that ended to the Roman Agora at the time.

After maintenance and restoration work by the Ministry of Culture, the monument is now open to the public.

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