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The Tower of the Winds

The Tower of the Winds, also called horologion (timepiece), is an octagonal Pentelic marble clocktower on the Roman agora in Athens. The structure features a combination of sundials, a water clock and a wind vane.[1] It was supposedly built by Andronicus of Cyrrhus around 50 BC, but according to other sources might have been constructed in the 2nd century BC before the rest of the forum.



The 12-metre-tall structure has a diameter of about 8 metres and was topped in antiquity by a weathervane-like Triton that indicated the wind direction.[2] Below the frieze depicting the eight wind deities — Boreas (N), Kaikias (NE), Eurus (E), Apeliotes (SE), Notus (S), Livas (SW), Zephyrus (W), and Skiron (NW) — there are eight sundials.[2] In its interior, there was a water clock (or clepsydra), driven by water coming down from the Acropolis. Recent research has shown that the considerable height of the tower was motivated by the intention to place the sundials and the wind-vane at a visible height on the Agora, making it effectively an early example of a clocktower.[3] According to the testimony of Vitruvius and Varro, Andronicus of Cyrrhus designed the structure.[4]

In early Christian times, the building was used as the bell-tower of a Byzantine Church. Under Ottoman rule it became a tekke and used by whirling dervishes. At that time it was buried up to half its height, and traces of this can be observed in the interior, where Turkish inscriptions may be found on the walls. It was fully excavated in the 19th century by the Archaeological Society of Athens.

The design of the 18th-century Radcliffe Observatory in Oxford, England, is based on the Tower of the Winds, as is the mausoleum of the founder of the Greek National Library Panayis Vagliano at West Norwood Cemetery, London. It has also inspired the 15th-century Torre del Marzocco in Livorno. There is a similar tower in Sevastopol, built in 1849. Another building based on the design of the Tower of the Winds is the Temple of the Winds, which stands in the grounds of Mount Stewart near Newtownards in Northern Ireland[5].

See also


  1. ^ Joseph V. Noble; Derek J. de Solla Price, p. 345
  2. ^ a b Joseph V. Noble; Derek J. de Solla Price, p. 353
  3. ^ Joseph V. Noble; Derek J. de Solla Price, p. 349
  4. ^ Joseph V. Noble; Derek J. de Solla Price, p. 354
  5. ^ National Trust page

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 37°58′27.04″N 23°43′37.21″E / 37.9741778°N 23.7270028°E / 37.9741778; 23.7270028



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