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The Library of Hadrian, Athens

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:41 pm
by MrMacSon
The Library of Hadrian (aka Hadrian’s Library) in Athens was constructed circa 132-134 CE as part of Roman Emperor Hadrian’s grand re-building plan for the city. The library was the largest in Athens and with its columned façade and high surrounding walls, built to impress. The building was used to store important literary works and legal and administrative documents, as well as offer a place to hear lectures and host various philosophical schools.
... During the invasion by the Heruli in 267 century CE, the library suffered notable damage and in 277 CE, when the city sought to better protect itself, the library was made part of a fortification wall. The library was renovated by Herculius (407-12 century CE), the Prefectus (Eparch) of the Illyricum, and a statue of him was erected at the building’s entrance. The inscription related to this statue is still visible on the left side of the entrance. It is possible that at the same time an early Christian church was built in the central garden space, although this four-apse structure may have been built in the mid-5th century CE. This Christian church, Athens’ first in fact, was destroyed in the 6th century CE and so replaced by a large three-aisled basilica.

Like many ancient buildings the library complex saw an eventful and chequered history in the last 1000 years. The large 7th century CE basilica at the site was destroyed by fire in the 11th century CE and so was replaced by another basilica, the Megali Panagia, in the 12th century CE, only this time on a smaller scale with only a single aisle. Contemporary with this new cathedral was a smaller church, the Agios Asomatos sta Skalia dedicated to the Archangel Michael which was built near the entrance.

When Athens came under Turkish control the library was once again used as a centre of administration and became the residence of the Turkish Administrator of Athens. From the 15th century CE it was also the site of two important bazaars and some residential buildings. During the 18th century CE the building served both as a mosque and as a fortress. A tower was built in 1814 CE which would later carry a clock given by Lord Elgin and in the 19th century CE the library saw service as an army barracks and then as a prison. ... an-athens/