Tower of the Winds
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The Tower of the Winds is an octagonal clock tower of pentelic marble, which was functioning as a sundial. This place of interest is situated in the Roman Agora in Athens. Scientists suppose also that this tower is the world’s first weather station. The structure was presumably built around 50 BC. At the same time, other sources suppose that it was erected by the astronomer Andronikos Kirhestes from Kirr in the 2nd century BC.

Architecture of the Tower of the Winds

Old shrines and temples are the major part of the archaeological landmarks in Athens, but the Tower of the Winds in Athens had a mainly scientific purpose. From the moment it appeared on the map of the capital, it immediately began to perform several important functions, serving as a sundial, a water clock, and a weather vane. The fact that this is not a myth or fiction of scientists is confirmed by the images on the building. Each of the eight sides faces a cardinal direction. All of them are decorated with a frieze with relief figures that depict winds blowing from this direction. Their names have been preserved to this day: Boreas (Northern), Caicias (North-Eastern), Apeliot (Eastern), Eurus (South-Eastern), Notus (Southern), Lips (South-Western), Zephyrus (Western) and Skiron (North-Western).

Under the friezes 8 vertical sundials were located. The shadow was produced on the hour lines, which are still slightly distinguishable today. Originally, on the top of the roof a bronze weathervane was placed with the image of the Greek ambassador of the Sea Triton. His hand was showing from where the wind was blowing. Inside, the internal Clepsydras (water clocks) with a complex design were located. Under the Acropolis there was a well from which water was flowing down. It was putting the clock in motion. This mechanism was pivotal for determining during the cloudy weather or at dark time when the sundial did not work.

The Tower had the shape of octagon. Almost the whole structure was built of the same type of pentelic marble as the Parthenon. By the way, this material was not usually used for other structures, except for temples. This fact points up the exceptional importance of the Tower of the Winds in Greece. Its height was 12,1 m and its diameter was about 8 m. Recent research has confirmed that the structure was quite sizable because the sundial and the weather vane had to be placed there, so that everybody could see them on the Agora.

This is why the Tower of the Winds in the Roman Agora has been holding a fascination not only for historians, but also for art historians for many centuries. It is really unique both in design and structure. But that's not all. The “Clepsydra” tower or “Aerides”, as the Athenians call the building, was created in two unique styles for those times. The outer part of it was attributed to the Corinthian style because of the propylon and two columns, and the inner part — to the Doric one.

Interesting facts about the Tower of the Winds

The weather vane was invented namely by the Greeks. The Romans were using it because they considered that the direction of the wind could predict the future.

In Early Christian times, the tower became a church, and the space outside in the northeast was used as a cemetery. During the Turkish reign, the tower became a place for prayers of the Sufi Muslim dervishes. When they left Greece after the Greek victory in the war of Independence, the building went to ruin. The first restoration was carried out here between 1837 and 1845, when it became clear that one half of the structure was covered with earth and wreckage that had accumulated for centuries, and the second half was already underground.

In 1976, the building underwent a second large-scale restoration, which was carried out by highly qualified specialists. But even they did not manage to restore the legendary hydraulic clock, its pipes and the entire mechanism for pumping water.

The Tower of the Winds in Greece has become the prototype of many structures around the world. The observatories of Radcliffe in Oxford and of Daniel S. Shank in the United States, the tower of the same name in Sevastopol and the Temple of the Winds in Northern Ireland are among them.

Before visiting the attraction, be sure to check the opening hours of the Tower of the Winds. Most often, it works every day, except for holidays.

The Tower of the Winds is located in the city centre on the territory of the Roman Agora. It is not far from the Agora of Athens. If you decide to take the metro here, follow the green line to “Monastiraki” station. From here, the historical building is a 3-5-minute walk away.

There are also bus routes No 25, 26, 27, 35, 227 and 500. If you go by one of them, reach the bus stop “Monastiraki Square”. A few minutes towards the Roman Agora — and you are there!

If you decide to get to the Tower by car or by scooter, follow two streets. The first one is the Pelopida street, which runs directly near the building, and the Epaminonda street frames the attraction from the opposite side.