Ancient Greece's restored Tower of Winds keeps its secrets

Thu Aug 25, 2016 6:48pm EDT
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By Karolina Tagaris and Phoebe Fronista

ATHENS (Reuters) - It is said to be the world's first weather station, to date back more than 2,000 years, and to have been used by merchants to tell the time - even in darkness.

The Tower of the Winds, still standing on a slope on Athens's ancient Acropolis hill despite attempts by Lord Elgin to move it to Britain, has been restored and re-opened to the public for the first time in nearly 200 years.

No one knows who funded its lavish construction - the octagonal monument is made almost entirely of Pentelic marble, the same used for the Parthenon and rarely found in buildings other than temples.

At nearly 14 meters (46 ft) tall, it is credited to the architect and astronomer Andronikos of Cyrrhus, but all these years later no one knows exactly how it worked.

"It is, we believe, the world's first weather station," Stelios Daskalakis, head of conservation, told Reuters.

"It's located in the Roman Agora (market place) as it was of great value for the merchants to read the weather and also tell the time their goods would arrive," he said.

Atop its fully-preserved roof, made of 24 marble slabs, rests a Corinthian capital which possibly served as the base of a bronze wind vane in the form of sea god Triton, Daskalakis said.

Beneath it is a frieze of eight Anemoi - wind gods of Greek mythology - each facing a different direction. And beneath that, lines of a sundial.   Continued...

Tourists visit the Tower of the Winds, open to the public for the first time in more than 200 years after being restored, in the Roman Agora, in Plaka, central Athens, Greece, August 23, 2016. Picture taken August 23, 2016.   REUTERS/Michalis Karagiannis