Worshipping the gods
The gods were usually worshipped at temples built for them in and around the city of Athens. The Athenians didn’t spend a lot of money on their private houses, but instead they poured funds into the building of great temples to honour their gods. The most famous example of this is the Parthenon, the temple to Athene on top of the Acropolis in the centre of Athens.
Νο religious worship actually took place in a temple. It was rather seen to be a ‘home’ for the god or goddess. Το symbolise this, a ‘cult statue’ of the divinity was housed in the main room of the temple, the naos. Some cult statues were enormous. The statue of Athene in the Parthenon was made of gold and ivory and stood at about 12 metres in height. The main reason a worshipper might enter the temple would be to look at the statue.
All the worship took place outside the temple. Every temple was part of a religious sanctuary which was marked off by a wall. The whole of the sanctuary was considered to be ‘holy ground’. The focal point in the sanctuary was the altar, where sacrifices took place. This was situated outside the front of the temple so that all the blood from the sacrificed animals would flow away into the ground.
The video below discusses the art, architecture and function of the Parthenon.