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acropolis



The section of a Greek city, built at its highest point, in which were the chief temples and public buildings. The word is associated with cities in ancient Greece, such as Athens, Argos, and Thebes, and also in Asia Minor, which had citadels, but that at Athens is most famous and has become known as the Acropolis.

Usually occupying the summit of a rocky outcrop or hill, the acropolis was fortified, commanding the city and its environs. As well as containing important buildings, it afforded a last refuge in case of a hostile attack. The acropolis, like the castle of the Middle Ages, formed the center or nucleus around which the town gradually grew.

Apart from that at Athens, other notable acropolises are the acropolis of Argos; that at Messene; that of Thebes, called Cadmea; and that at Corinth, known as Acro-Corinthus.