Tower of the Winds, Athens, Greece | CruiseBe
No votes yet

Tower of the Winds

History and museums
roman, ruins, ancient

The Tower of the Winds or the Horologion of Andronikos Kyrrhestes is an octagonal Pentelic marble clocktower in the Roman Agora in Athens that functioned as a horologion or "timepiece". Unofficially, the monument is also called Aerides (Greek: Αέρηδες), which means Winds. The structure features a combination of sundials, a water clock, and a wind vane. It was supposedly built by Andronicus of Cyrrhus around 50 BC, but according to other sources, might have been constructed in the 2nd century BC before the rest of the forum. In summer of 2014, the Athens Ephorate of Antiquities began cleaning and conserving the structure, with the work expected to last until late 2015.



The 12-meter-tall structure has a diameter of about 8 metres and was topped in antiquity by a weathervane-like Triton that indicated the wind direction. Below the frieze depicting the eight wind deities — Boreas (N), Kaikias (NE), Eurus (E), Apeliotes (SE), Notus (S), Lips (SW), Zephyrus (W), and Skiron (NW) — there are eight sundials. In its interior, there was a water clock (or clepsydra), driven by water coming down from the Acropolis. Recent research has shown that the considerable height of the tower was motivated by the intention to place the sundials and the wind-vane at a visible height on the Agora, effectively making it an early example of a clocktower. According to the testimony of Vitruvius and Varro, Andronicus of Cyrrhus designed the structure. The tower's columns bore capitals of a design now known as "Tower of the Winds Corinthian," although they lack the volutes ordinarily found in Corinthian capitals.

In early Christian times, the building was used as the bell-tower of a Byzantine Church. Under Ottoman rule it became a tekke and was used by whirling dervishes. At that time it was buried up to half its height, and traces of this can be observed in the interior, where Turkish inscriptions may be found on the walls. It was fully excavated in the 19th century by the Archaeological Society of Athens.

Several buildings are based on the design of the Towers of the Winds, including:

  • The 18th-century Radcliffe Observatory in Oxford, England,
  • The Daniel S. Schanck Observatory (1865) an early astronomical observatory at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
  • The mausoleum of the founder of the Greek National Library Panayis Vagliano at West Norwood Cemetery, London.
  • The 15th-century Torre del Marzocco in Livorno.
  • A similar tower in Sevastopol, built in 1849.
  • The Temple of the Winds, which stands in the grounds of Mount Stewart near Newtownards in Northern Ireland.
  • The Carnaby Temple near Carnaby, East Riding of Yorkshire, built in 1770.
  • The Maitland Robinson building in Downing College Cambridge, designed by Quinlan Terry in 1992.
  • The "Storm Tower" in Bude, Cornwall (1835), by George Wightwick


Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0