parthenon

In 1456, Ottoman Turkish forces invaded Athens and laid siege to a Florentine army defending the Acropolis until June 1458, when it surrendered to the Turks. The Turks may have briefly restored the Parthenon to the Greek Orthodox Christians for continued use as a church. Some time before the close of the fifteenth century the Parthenon became a mosque. The precise circumstances under which the Turks appropriated it for use as a mosque are unclear; one account states that Mehmed II ordered its conversion as punishment for an Athenian plot against Ottoman rule. The apse became a mihrab, the tower previously constructed during the Roman Catholic occupation of the Parthenon was extended upwards to become a minaret, a minbar was installed, the Christian altar and iconostasis were removed, and the walls were whitewashed to cover icons of Christian saints along with other Christian imagery. Despite the alterations accompanying the Parthenon's conversion into a church and subsequently a mosque, its structure had remained basically intact. In 1667 the Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi expressed marvel at the Parthenon's sculptures and figuratively described the building as "like some impregnable fortress not made by human agency." He composed a poetic supplication that it, as "a work less of human hands than of Heaven itself, should remain standing for all time." The French artist Jacques Carrey in 1674 visited the Acropolis and sketched the Parthenon's sculptural decorations. Early in 1687, an engineer named Plantier sketched the Parthenon for the Frenchman Graviers d’Ortières. These depictions, particularly those made by Carrey, provide important, and sometimes the only, evidence of the condition of the Parthenon and its various sculptures prior to the devastation it suffered in late 1687 and the subsequent looting of its art objects.