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Gateway to the Gods: The Propylea

Detail | The Propylea of the Acropolis of Athens | Graphite on White Paper | Yannis Fotiadis © | 2020

There are few architectural experiences greater than the slow and winding path that takes one from the bottom of the Acropolis hill to the top and to the threshold that is the gateway of the holy temple precinct dedicated to Athena, protectress of the Polis and goddess of wisdom. In antiquity it was the culmination of the Sacred Way, a path that connected the Acropolis to Eleusis, the setting of the great and profound mysteries.

The view here is taken just before one begins the final climb to the gate. We are still in the realm of man, but we can see the realm of the gods. The sky behind which is so dominant in the view, shows us what true transcendence can lead to. But to do that, we must apply the Delphic maxim «ΓΝΩΘΙ ΣΕΑΥΤΟΝ», among others.

The Propylea of the Acropolis of Athens | Graphite on White Paper | Yannis Fotiadis © | 2020

Even in its ruined and decayed state, the Propylaea is imbued with a beauty and majesty that is rarely seen in contemporary structures. Its architectural merits would justify a whole study dedicated to its design and construction.

Suffice it to say that there is no doubt in my mind, having visited these sites of classical antiquity again and again, that my ancestors had an understanding of the cosmos and their place in it, that we fundamentally lack, despite all of the technology, scientific knowledge and advancements of our age. We are left with more questions than answers.



A modern day Renaissance man whose creative endeavors span architecture, music, and the visual arts, Yanni Fotiadis has designed projects in the U.S., Greece, Dubai, Turkey and Russia, among other destinations. A graduate of Columbia University, Fotiadis recently designed the Radisson Hotel at Tsinandali, Republic of Georgia, which was one of four finalists for Best Tourist Hotel of 2020 at the MIPIM Awards.


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