The Stoa Poikile is one of the most known and famous buildings of ancient Athens. The 1981 excavations by the American School of Classical Studies revealed the western part of the Stoa , north of the electric railway line. The building dated between 475-450 B.C.

The portico was originally called Peisianakteios, named after the manufacturer Peisianax. However the name Poikile (colorful) prevailed later, as its walls were decorated with paintings of great artists of classical antiquity, including the names of Polygnotus, Micon and Panainos. The paintings were depicting military victories of the Athenians, both mythological and historical: the Amazon battle, the fall of Troy, the victory over the Spartans in Oinoe, the victory over the Persians at Marathon. In addition to the paintings, other mementoes of military victories of the Athenians were exposed too, like the shields of the Spartans that the Athenians took as loot after the victorious battle for them in Sfaktiria island in 425 B.C.

The Stoa had many uses. It served mainly as a meeting place for Athenians, but also it was used for formal events such as courts sessions. The building was used freely by ordinary people too, and also various by professionals such as jugglers, magicians and beggars. Regular visitors to the gallery were the philosophers, especially the Cynics, and the Stoics who took their name after the Stoa, since they frequented to this place to hear the teaching of the philosopher Zeno of Citium.

Author: Konstantinos Lazaridis
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