ATHENS, GREECE (Catholic Online) - Built in 438 BC, it is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered to be the culmination of the development of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art.
The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece and of Athenian democracy and one of the world's greatest cultural monuments. The Greek Ministry of Culture is currently carrying out a program of selective restoration and reconstruction to ensure the stability of the partially ruined structure.
In the 5th century AD, the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. After the Ottoman Turk conquest, it was turned into a mosque in the early 1460s, and it had a minaret built in it.
In 1687, during the Ottoman-Venetian wars, a Turkish ammunition dump inside the building was ignited by Venetian bombardment. The resulting explosion severely damaged the Parthenon and its sculptures.
Several sculptures were recovered in 1806 and sold to the British Museum in London in 1816 where they are now displayed. The Greek government is committed to the return of the sculptures to Greece, so far with no success.