Ancient Greeks were famous for their passion for symmetry, analogy and beauty. Romans became famous for their ability to efficiently govern the world by military force, rational thought and practical wisdom. This can be viewed in their different approaches to architecture. Greeks were mostly interested in erecting marvelous temples and Romans were interested in making streets, aqueducts and public buildings.
Roman agora, is a rare combination of both attitudes. The style is Roman but the methods of construction and its architectural parts come from the classical ancient Greek tradition. Roman Agora is quite close to ancient Greek Agora, only few hundred meters to the east. The place's name was Eretria and it was used already as an open market place, even before Romans.
Around 100 A.D., a comfortably wide street linked Agora with the Roman Agora, signifying their ultimate connection. At that time, the Greek Agora was mostly a place for meeting people, light-shopping and hearing philosophical lectures. Roman Agora was the real market of the city of Athens. Roman Agora is a rectangular courtyard, full of shops and store rooms. It's building started around 11 B.C by a direct order of Caesar and it was completed few years later by his successor Augustus. This is why the Roman Agora's full name is 'Roman Agora of Caesar and Augustus'.
It was dedicated by the people of Athens, demos, to Athena Archegetis, Athena the Leader. It was Athena the one who gave the Athenians the gift of olive-tree. In the Roman Agora, the most valuable commodity was olive-oil, after all! There are two main gates. The west Doric propylon, gate, is dedicated to Athena Archegetis. The east Ionic propylon counter-balances the austerity of its Doric companion. Besides these two gates, we can find other important edifices too, such as: Agoranomeion, the building in which was located the service with the authority to implement the laws of the market and the Public latrines, 'Vespasianae'.
Just few meters away from the east enclosure of Roman Agora stands proudly the 'Tower of the Winds'. It is a 12-meter high building. It was designed by the famous astronomer Andronikos of Kyrrhos. Its nickname 'Tower of the Winds' comes from the personifications of the eight winds, which are sculptured on the eight sides of the building. Until the 17th century, people used to believe that it was the prison of Socrates or the tomb of Philip II of Macedonia. Inside it is a brilliantly designed water clock. On the outside is a sundial and a weather vane.
Its most impressive feature are the friezes on the top with these unique and distinguished representations of the winds. It is a worthy deed to mention the Greek names of these eight winds: Boreas, north wind, Skiron, north-west wind, Zephyrus, west wind, Lips, south-west wind, Notos, south wind, Euros, south-east wind, Apeliotes, east wind and Kaikias, north-east wind. Only to spell these ancient names can bring us the fresh breath of the Mediterranean Sea!