Visit the birthplace of democracy, where men first gathered as equals to make decisions about the fate of their growing city.
Pnyx Hill was where the Athenian democratic assembly met back in the 5th century. This picturesque hilltop was the birthplace of the world’s first democracy. Sit on the rocky hillside where thousands of men congregated to hear political speeches and debate decisions regarding their growing city. This was the first time that all of the male citizens of a town had an equal voice in making decisions about their government.
Located just to the west of the Acropolis, in the city center, Pnyx Hill is surrounded by green space, making it a great destination for a morning outing or a picnic lunch. It’s an easy add-on before visiting the Acropolis or other nearby archeological sites and museums. It only takes 15 minutes at the site to appreciate its importance to modern democracies the world over. See remnants of the stone platform, or bema (“step” in Greek), where great orators such as Aristides, Pericles and Demosthenes addressed their countrymen.
Pnyx Hill had humble beginnings, as a natural area with a retaining wall to the north. Another semi-circular retaining wall was added and two sets of stairs leading to the Bema. There are also 500 wooden seats for the Councilmen elected by the Assembly. The third renovation was the same design, but larger. The Pnyx could hold upwards of 13,000 people, but there had to be at least 6,000 citizens present for a discussion to take place. The Assembly gathered once every nine days to discuss political and social matters.
Pnyx Hill is located in the heart of Athens, within walking distance of other major archeological sites. There’s no admission fee, and it’s open from dawn until dusk.