The marble sculptures that form the Parthenon

Room 18

Greece: Parthenon

447–432 BC

Visiting the gallery

Opening times

Daily: 10.00–17.00 (Fridays: 20.30)
See full opening hours

Advance booking advised

Gallery audio guides

Listen on the Audio app, available on the App Store and Google Play.

The Parthenon was built as a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena.

It was the centrepiece of an ambitious building programme on the Acropolis of Athens.

The temple's great size and lavish use of white marble was intended to show off the city's power and wealth at the height of its empire. Room 18 exhibits sculptures that once decorated the outside of the building.

The pediments and metopes (square spaces between triglyphs in a Doric frieze) illustrate episodes from Greek myth, while the frieze represents the people of contemporary Athens in religious procession.

Rooms 18a and 18b feature fragments of the Parthenon sculpture and also pieces of architecture. Video displays using computer graphics explain how the sculptures were placed on the building, and a touch tour for visually impaired visitors includes a model, some original architecture and plaster casts of the frieze.

Take a virtual tour

Examine one of our most popular attractions, the Parthenon sculptures, away from the crowds.

Sculptures in the Parthenon gallery. ©2020 Google.

Gallery facts

  • The word parthénos (παρθένος) meant 'maiden, girl' or 'virgin, unmarried woman'.

  • The temple was decorated with sculptures representing scenes from mythology and cult, while inside the building stood a colossal image of Athena Parthenos, constructed of gold and ivory.

  • The temple was richly decorated with sculptures, designed by the famous artist Pheidias, which took until 432 BC to complete.

  • The Parthenon sculptures have been on permanent display since 1817.

  • The frieze shows the procession of the Panathenaic festival, the commemoration of the birthday of the goddess Athena.

  • On either end of the main room are transepts (in a cross-shaped church, transepts are either of the two parts forming the arms of the cross shape, projecting at right angles from the nave). Displayed here are sculptures from the east and west pediments including Iris, goddess of the rainbow, and Dionysos. On the walls are metopes carved in high relief.


  • A large print guide is available.
  • Some objects in this collection feature on the British Sign Language multimedia guide. This resource is temporarily unavailable.
  • Some objects in this collection feature on the audio description guide, available on Soundcloud.
  • Seating is available.
  • Step-free access.
  • View sensory map.

Visit Accessibility at the Museum for more information.