Hadrian’s Library was created by Roman Emperor Hadrian in AD 132 on the north side of the Acropolis of Athens. It was a rectangular building followed a typical Roman Forum architectural style, with a propylon of Corinthian order to the west, an open peristyle courtyard with arcades on all four sides, a library, reading rooms and lecture halls. In the eastern part were the halls, used as reading rooms and the rooms where all the rolls of papyrus “books” were kept.
The library was seriously damaged by the Herulian invasion of 267 and according to an inscription it was repaired by the eparchus Herculius in AD 407-412. During Byzantine times, three churches were built at the site, the remains of which are preserved: a tetraconch in the 5th century AD, which was destroyed in the 6th century and was replaced by a three-aisled basilica (7th century), dedicated to St. Mary, called Megali Panagia, which was burned in the 11th century. Finally, a third very small church was built over the last one in the 12th century. During the Turkish occupation it became the seat of the Voevode (Governor) and in 1835, the barracks of king Otho were erected in the place of the Voevodalik. In 1885, many buildings in the area were burned down and destroyed by a big fire. Among them, Megali Panagia, the oldest church in Athens.
Nowadays, the western view of the propylon with Corinthian columns is preserved. The Hadrian’s Library is located next to Monastiraki Underground Station, in the center of Athens.
Hadrian was an ardent philhellene and often visited Athens during his reign from 117 to 138. In addition to the library, he founded many more public buildings, expanded the Roman Agora and completed the Temple of Olympian Zeus.