A visitor standing next to the statue of Athena

Room 19

Greece: Athens

430–400 BC

Visiting the gallery

Limited opening times

Closed until further notice.

Visit Room 19 at the British Museum to enjoy sculpture and architecture of Athens at the height of its political and cultural power.

For much of 5th century BC, Athens was the wealthiest and most powerful state in mainland Greece. 

Room 19 displays a number of sculptures from this period, which saw the rebuilding of numerous structures on the Acropolis, the sacred heart of the city of Athens, after the Persian sack of 480 BC. 

When the Parthenon was completed in 432 BC, Athens had already embarked on the disastrous 'Peloponnesian War' against Sparta. Final defeat in 404 BC brought about the end of Athens' golden age and stripped the city of its empire, defences and – for a time at least – its democratic government. The building programme on the Athenian Acropolis was interrupted by the war.

Take a virtual tour

Explore what life was like in Athens in the 5th century through pottery, sculpture and more, using Google Street View.

Pottery in Room 19. ©2020 Google

Gallery facts

  • Some of the sculptures in this room are from the Acropolis, the sacred heart of the city of Athens. 
  • From around 450 BC, Athens was rebuilt as a great showpiece of Athenian power, wealth and art. 
  • On display in Room 19 are parts of the Erechtheion and Athena Nike temple. 
  • The temple of Athena Nike, goddess of Victory, was built around 425–400 BC at the entrance to the Acropolis and is the smallest temple built from this period.  
  • The Erechtheion was the most important religious building in Athens. Probably begun around 421 BC during a lull in the long war between Athens and Sparta, it was completed around 404 BC.
  • Six female figures supported the roof of the Erechtheion. Known as Caryatids, one is on display in Room 19.

Accessibility

  • Some objects in this collection feature on the British Sign Language guide handset, available from the audio guide desk in the Great Court.
  • Some objects in this collection feature on the audio description guide, available from audio guide desk in the Great Court.
  • Step-free access. 
  • View sensory map.

Visit Accessibility at the Museum for more information.