The Propylaea was the monumental gateway to the Acropolis of Athens, and was one of several public works commissioned by the Athenian leader Pericles in order to rebuild the Acropolis a generation after the conclusion of the Persian Wars. Pericles appointed his friend Phidias as the supervisor and lead architect of this massive project, which Pericles allegedly financed with funds appropriated from the treasury of the Delian League. According to Plutarch, the Propylaea was designed by the architect Mnesikles, about whom nothing else is known. Construction began in 437 BC and was terminated in 432, when the building was still unfinished.
The Propylaea was constructed of white Pentelic marble and grey Eleusinian marble or limestone, which was used only for accents. Structural iron was also used, though William Bell Dinsmoor analyzed the structure and concluded that the iron weakened the building. The structure consists of a central building with two adjoining wings on the west (outer) side, one to the north and one to the south.
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