The Agora ( ancient Greek ἀγορά ) was the central feast, assembly and marketplace of a city in ancient Greece. However, they also acted as an important social institution and as such a characteristic feature of the Greek polis. As an important place of worship it was the venue of many decisive for the formation of a common identity of religious festivals with gymnastic and musical Agonen. The place of folk and court gatherings she had an outstanding role for the orderly living together in a community. In Homer, the lack of an Agora is considered a sign of law and lawlessness. According to Herodotus, the Agora was the defining characteristic of an independent Greek city ( Histories 1.153 ) for the Persian king Cyrus II.
Its origin was the Agora in a village meeting place. With the growth of the first only small communities at the end of the Geometric period and the consequent merger of several villages ( synoecism ) to a larger community arose at a central and well -to-reach place, the Agora which is now developing polis. Originally located even outside the various emerging from the former villages of population centers, they advanced with increasing education of urban structures more and more in the city center.
Initially enough a largely undesigned, flat open space, which was crossed by several roads, the needs of a political and legal venue. Due to its central location and easy accessibility, it also became the marketplace. As an important cultic center of the polis community initially included altars and later small temple to the image of each Agora. In the 6th century BC first public buildings were erected at the edges of open space with Stoen. This usable for various functions porticoes were during the 5th and 4th century BC to the typical buildings of the Agora, with its elongated colonnades gave Stoen now often on one or more pages the place a monumental conclusion. His appearance was now often by such porticoes ( stoai ) coined. In particular, the role of the Agora as day in day meeting of the inhabitants of a Greek city came to meet these halls because they offered visitors protection from sun, rain and wind.
In the classical period emerged in many agorai the office premises of local magistrates, also a Buleuterion (town hall) and a prytaneion included at the end of the 4th century BC, often to architect ionic features an agora. It developed more and more to the administrative center of a Greek polis and served their representation. The Agora was the site for public decisions and honorary statues.
In the same period, parts of its original features but were moved to other places. So for agone very often separate buildings such as stadiums and theaters were created. Public meetings have now found mostly in specially built Ekklesiasterien (eg the Pnyx in Athens ) or in the theater instead. Despite the apparent efforts to shift the market life to the newly created trading markets, the agora, however, their economic functions never lost, but remained in the Hellenistic period continues to be the most important trade center of a city.
In many cities, the representative expansion occurred but only in Hellenistic-Roman period, before the Agora was sometimes only an open place.
Function and shape of the Agora coincide partly with those of the Roman Forum.
The best known example is the Agora of Athens. Other examples include the Agora of Priene and the agora of Miletus.