The Parthenon, one of the most visited archaeological sites in Greece, is regarded as an enduring symbol of ancient Greece and of Athenian democracy, and is one of the world's greatest cultural monuments. Built over two and a half millennia ago, serving as a temple to Athena for one thousand years, as a Christian church for almost another, it is not surprising that the structure is not complete. Amazingly, though, despite the natural ravages of time, an unfortunate explosion due to its serving as a repository for gunpowder when Athens was under attack, and a certain amount of looting, both "official" in the form of removal of significant items to foreign museums for safekeeping and illegal, much of the beauty of the building has been preserved and/or reconstructed. It remains an imposing monument atop the Acropolis, even today dominating the skyline of Athens.
While great efforts have been made to restore and reconstruct the architecture, and the sculptures and other artworks that adorned the Parthenon, a significant number of original pieces of sculpture removed by the Earl of Elgin, and residing in the British museum, known as the "Elgin marbles." While their removal may have been justified, as the British museum was qualified to preserve and exhibit these items, the development of the Acropolis Museum and restoration of the Parthenon suggest that the time for their return has arrived.
Like all ancient sites, the Parthenon has been and continues to be in danger of damage by pollution from modern society. Having developed the technologies that can destroy the such significant reminders of the past, we must use our knowledge and concern for all things in our environment, both natural and man-made, to preserve the Parthenon so that it might be able to educate and inspire future generations.