Ancient Plataea, situated at the foot of Mt. Kithairon, has always
remained a strong ally of the Athenians and an enemy of the Thebans. In 479 B.C.
the famous battle which remained in Greek History as a symbol of resstance against
the Persian conquerors took place. The city was totally demolished by the latter.
It was destructed twice again, in 427 and 372 B.C. by the Thebans in their desperate attempt to annex it to the Boeotian Federation which was under the Theban Hegemony. It was rebuilt in the era of Alexander the Great (end of 4th c. B.C.) and its walls were renovated by Justinian, the emperor of Byzantion, in the 6th c. A.D. From the end of the 6th c. B.C. coins and inscriptions testify for the cult of Hera, Demeter, Athena, Zeus Eleutherios and Artemis.
The American School under F. B. Tarbell, J. C. Rolle, C. Waldstein
excavated at the site between 1889-1891. They brought to light the Heraion, "the Katagogion" and the famous copy of an edict of Diocletian (301 A.D.) regulating the highest prices of products. In 1899 A. Skias excavated Mycenaean remains (1400-1200 B.C.) in the N.W. part of the city in the walled
inner citadel. In 1973 Th. Spyropoulos discovered a rectangular foundation
and a "polyandrion" of 5th c. Β.C. which he attributed respectively
to the altar of Zeus Eleutherios and to the mass grave of those who fell in the
battle of 479 B.C. against the Persians.
The most important monuments are: Fortification Walls (preserved length 4,5 km) of
different periods from the 5th c. B.C. to the 4th or 5th c. A.D. There are also
preserved some remains from the prehistoric times (before 1200 B.C.). The circuit
walls are constructed in different alling styles - signs from different eras -
and have circular and square interval towers. Heraion : The doric peripteral temple of Hera is
situated in the N.W. of the walled inner citadel. It was built by the Thebans
in 426/5 B.C. upon the foundations of an earlier temple - destroyed by fire -
from the 6th c. B.C. It housed the statue of Hera, work of the sculptor Praxitales,
which was also portrayed on the coins of the city. Katagogion : hostel for visitors, on the N.E. of
Heraion. It was built by the Thebans in 426 B.C. after the destruction of Plataea.
It was rectangular, with many rooms in each of its two storeys and an inner court
at the centre. During roman time (1st c. A.D.) it was used as an agora. Today
only an angle and a long side of the building is preserved. Altar of Zeus Eleutherios : Rectangular foundations
which were attributed by Th. Spyropoulos to the altar built by the Greeks after
their victory at Plataea (479 B.C.). In this way was honored Zeus Eleutherios
for his gift of freedom. The altar payed an important role in the annual Eleutherian festivals. "Polyandrion": Mass grave of the deceased
at the battle of Plataea (479 B.C.) against the Persians. It was situated near
the altar of Zeus Eleutherios and included several human bones and no offerings.
Here were transported the bones from their original site. Remains of at least ten byzantine churches (from
6th-15th c. A.D.), built with ancient material, are well spread over much of the
Art & culture
Walls: Mycenaean civilization, 1600-1100 BCClassical period, 480-323 BC