The Ancient Agora of Athens was the focus centre of public life. The large open square attracted Athenians for a variety of purposes: trade, elections, consultations, trials but also theatrical events, ceremonies, military exercises or athletic competitions, everything could happen in the Agora. Administrative, judicial and commercial buildings ‘Stoas’ (collonades), altars, temples and shrines, fountains, the Odeon, the Library, the ‘Bema’ (speakers platform), monuments and dedications of donors, areas of promenade and discussions flanked Dromos, the ancient road which led from Dipylon to the Acropolis where the grandiose Panathenaic procession used to take place.
The hill of the Agora, Agoraios Kolonos, is dominated by the Temple of Hephaestus, protector of bronze workers, and of Athena Ergane, protector of potters. It is the best preserved temple of the 5th century BC.
At the foot of the hill public buildings which housed the institutions of Athenian Democracy have been revealed (the Bouleuterion, where draft legislation was prepared, the Tholos, seat of executive power, the State Archives). Starting from the southwest of the square, the Athenians followed the road that led to the area of popular assemblies on the hill of Pnyx, passing through densely populated city districts. It is in the Ancient Agora and on Pnyx that have developed their activity all great politicians of the 5th and 4th century BC, great philosophers, including Socrates, but mainly the anonymous today but omnipotent at that time Athenian citizen, who participated in the institutions of the direct Athenian Democracy. In the south of the Agora stands the Areopagus Hill, the seat of the Supreme Court and sacred place of the mythical Erinyes (the Furies).