The temple of Athena Nike is a temple in the Ionic order, with four monolithic columns at the east and west fronts. As the epithet Nike (victory) implies, here Athena was worshipped as the Goddess who stands by the Athenians in time of war. The cella of the temple housed a wooden cult statue of the Goddess, who held a helmet in one hand, symbol of war, and a branch of pomegranate tree in the other, symbol of peace.
The sides of the bastion around the temple of Athena Nike were protected by a parapet of Pentelic marble. It was 41.71 meters in length and consisted of slabs with relief decoration οn the exterior. The sequence of representations commenced from the northwest corner, where the staircase leading from the Propylaia to the sanctuary ended. The slabs are not part of a continuous narrative. Instead, each one depicts an independent scene. Each side consists of a similar composition of winged Nikai, either driving bulls to sacrifice or holding weapons and bedecking victory trophies with Greek or Persian weaponry. The Goddess Athena is seated in their midst, having laid down her weapons.
The frieze ran along all four sides of the temple of Athena Nike and consisted of 14 sections. It was 25.94 meters long. The block from the northeast corner has been lost along with other parts and therefore the original sequence of blocks on the north, south and west side is uncertain. Four blocks, two from the south and west sections respectively are located in the British Museum. The east frieze represents the Olympian Gods and the other three sides of the frieze depict historic battle scenes, such as the Marathon battle in 490 BC.
Balustrade slab from the Temple of Athena Nike. A winged Victory stops to tie up or unfasten her sandal. The type is known as the ‘Sandalbinder’. 420-410 BC