The Propylaia, the monumental gateway to the Acropolis sanctuary, designed by the architect Mnesikles, was erected between 437 and 431 BC on the site of an earlier gate. It was never completed, however, as construction stopped on the eve of the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC.
The building consisted of a central entrance and two lateral wings. The central opening was flanked by three pairs of Ionic-style columns with finely crafted capitals. Five doors provided access, the middle one of which was wider to facilitate the passage of the Panathenaic procession and its sacrificial animals.
The north wing contains a spacious chamber with an anteroom, known as the Pinakotheke. The name derives from a reference by Pausanias, a traveller of the 2nd century BC, to the paintings that once adorned this space, depicting subjects from Athens’ mythical and historical past. It was most likely a reception hall, with couches and tables, where VIP guests could rest and dine.