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Dipylon Gate

a Pleiades place resource

Creators: Tyler Blackburn, Jonathan Tallmer, Rachel Holcomb, Davis Emery Copyright © The Contributors. Sharing and remixing permitted under terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (cc-by).
Last modified Jul 16, 2020 10:30 AM History
The Dipylon Gate was the sole double gate in Athens, erected next to the Holy Gate, near the Kerameikos.

37.9784536, 23.7189316
  • Dipylon Gate at Athenae (unspecified date range)

gate (of a city), city gate


A massive wall surrounded the ancient city of Athens. This wall was a way to keep intruders out and to also mark the boundaries of the city. In this wall were many gates that had different functions and importance. One of the most vital gates for war and pleasure was the Dipylon Gate (Fields, 22). The Dipylon Gate, later known as the Thriasian Gate, was built in 478 BC (Fields, 22). It went through two major building phases. The first phase was the original construction of the wall, when it was formed along with the corner towers out of mud brick. Then in 307-304 BC, the gate underwent repair. The Dipylon Gate was refurbished and strengthened with peiraieic limestone, which greatly increased the size of the four corner towers located on top of the gate (Fields, 23).

One reason that the Dipylon Gate was vital to Athenian life was because of the structural design of the gate. For the social aspect of Athens, the Dipylon Gate consisted of two double doors that separated the landside and the city side of Athens. On the land side of the gate was a large courtyard which was used for social matters and events in Athens. Some sources say that the open courtyard was used for the Panathenaic festival, one of the biggest in Athens. In addition, the Panathenaic Procession could have possibly used this courtyard as a meeting place (Fields, 22). The Dipylon Gate was not only vital for social functions but also useful in times of war. It had four corner towers that could be used to spot approaching enemies.  The “corridor gate” style, where attackers/enemies could be targeted if spotted by any of the four towers surrounding it, benefitted the city of Athens and its defense during times of turmoil. For example, when Philip V attempted the siege of Athens in 200 BC he could not breach the Dipylon Gate because of its multifaceted structural design (Fields, 22).

Directly next to the Dipylon Gate was another prominent landmark known as the Holy Gate. The general area around these two Greek structures was known as the Kerameikos, the Greek word for pottery (Iliopoulos). The inner area of the Keramaeikos was populated with potters who created and painted vases, and was therefore known as the “potter’s quarter” (Glowacki). The outer area of the Kerameikos, on the other hand, was used as a burial ground. This burial ground was eventually considered to be the most important burial ground in Athens. Here, famous political and military figures such as Pericles and Cleisthenes were buried (Roberts).

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Tyler Blackburn, Jonathan Tallmer, Rachel Holcomb, Davis Emery, Rachel Holcomb, Jeffrey Becker, Davis Emery, Brady Kiesling, and Tom Elliott, 'Dipylon Gate: a Pleiades place resource', Pleiades: A Gazetteer of Past Places, 2020 <> [accessed: 28 October 2020]

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