Tower of the Winds

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Tower of the Winds, Athens, Greece
Upper part of the tower

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". It is considered the world's first meteorological station. 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.[1] 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; restoration work was completed in August 2016.[2]


The 12-metre-tall structure has a diameter of about 8 metres and was topped in antiquity by a weathervane-like Triton that indicated the wind direction.[3] Below the frieze depicting the eight wind deities—Boreas (N), Kaikias (NE), Apeliotes (E), Eurus (SE), Notus (S), Lips (SW), Zephyrus (W), and Skiron (NW)—there are eight sundials.[3] In its interior, there was a water clock (or clepsydra), driven by water coming down from the Acropolis. 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.[4] According to the testimony of Vitruvius and Varro, Andronicus of Cyrrhus designed the structure.[5] 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.

Turkish dervishes in the building, early 19th century

In early Christian times, the building was used as the bell-tower of an Eastern Orthodox 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.

Buildings inspired by the Tower of the Winds[edit]

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Joseph V. Noble; Derek J. de Solla Price, p. 345
  2. ^ "Ancient Greece's restored tower of winds keeps its secrets, KAROLINA TAGARIS & PHOEBE FRONISTA | Kathimerini".
  3. ^ a b Joseph V. Noble; Derek J. de Solla Price, p. 353
  4. ^ Joseph V. Noble; Derek J. de Solla Price, p. 349
  5. ^ Joseph V. Noble; Derek J. de Solla Price, p. 354
  6. ^ Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey – Rutgers University Libraries – University Archives. "Daniel S. Schanck Observatory" at Paths to Historic Rutgers: A Self-Guided Tour. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  7. ^ "Mount Stewart". UK: National Trust. Retrieved 22 April 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Joseph V. Noble; Derek J. de Solla Price: The Water Clock in the Tower of the Winds, American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 72, No. 4 (1968), pp. 345–355.
  • James Beresford: A Monument to the Winds, Navigation News, Mar/Apr 2015, pp. 17–19.
  • Pamela A. Webb, The Tower of the Winds in Athens. Greeks, Romans, Christians, and Muslims: Two Millennia of Continual Use, (Philadelphia 2017)

External links[edit]

Media related to Tower of the Winds at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 37°58′27″N 23°43′37″E / 37.974256°N 23.7270701°E / 37.974256; 23.7270701