Hadrians Arch and the Temple of Zeus

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The Arch of Hadrian, or Hadrian’s Arch, was erected in honor of the Roman emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century A.D. Two inscriptions are carved on the arch, one on each side: the first, on the side towards the Acropolis, reads, "This is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus"; the second, on the other side, facing the new city reads, "This is the city of Hadrian and not of Theseus". 

The Temple of Olympian Zeus was once the largest temple in Greece, (315’ long and 130’ wide), dwarfing even the Parthenon on the Acropolis. Work began on the Temple of Zeus in the 6th century BC by the tyrant Peisistratus, but was not completed until hundreds of years later by Hadrian in 132 AD. He dedicated the temple to Zeus during the Pan-Hellenic festival. 

Inside the temple, Hadrian had a huge ivory and gold inlaid statue of the God Zeus made which was a replica of the one at Olympia by Phidias. In true Roman style, he had a statue of himself made and placed next to the one of Zeus. 

The temple was once the most magnificent in Greece, but with years of neglect and vandalism, all that is left are 15 massive 56’ high columns of the original 104, one still sprawled across the floor after it fell down in 1852.