The parapet enclosed the three sides of the bastion, on which the temple was built. It consisted of slabs approximately one meter in height whose outer surfaces were decorated with relief scenes visible by those ascending the Acropolis. The holes preserved on the upper surface of these slabs indicate that there was originally a metal railing, which further raised the height of the parapet.
The theme depicted on the parapet is a celebration of the military victories of the Athenians against their enemies, either Persians or other Greeks. The narrative is not continuous; instead it is composed of separate, individual scenes which – with slight variations – recur on each side of the parapet: winged Nikai lead bulls to sacrifice or hold weapons and adorn victory trophies with Greek or Persian armour. Among them sits goddess Athena, resting after victorious battles. The carving of the temple's sculptures was carried out by many different artists under the supervision of Agorakritos. These sculpted figures are highly representative of the end of the 5th cent. BC style called by archaeologists the "Rich Style".
In 1687 the temple and the parapet of Athena Nike were dismantled by the Ottomans and the material was used for the reinforcement of a gun emplacement and the fortification of the west side of the Acropolis against the attacks by the Venetians under the command of the general Francesco Morosini. Between 1835 and 1836 the gun emplacement was demolished and the Temple of Athena Nike was restored for the first time under the supervision of Ludwig Ross, the administrator of antiquities at the time. A second reconstruction was carried out in 1940, while a third was completed in 2010.
Kekulé von Stradonitz, R., Die Reliefs an der Balustrade der Athena Nike, Stuttgart, 1881, σελ. 4, 12, αρ. κατ. 5 Petersen, E., «Βιβλιοκρισία του R. Kekulé, Die Reliefs an der Balustrade der Athena Nike,», Zeitschrift für die Österreichischen Gymnasien, 32, Wien, 1881, σελ. 270, 272 Yorke, V.W., «Newly Discovered Fragments of thw Balustrade of Athena Nike», Journal of Hellenic Studies 13, 1892/93, σελ. 277 Casson, S., Brooke, D., Catalogue of the Acropolis Museum. Sculpture and Architectural Fragments, with a section upon the Terracottas, II, Cambridge, 1921, σελ. 173, αρ. κατ. 1001 Heberdey, R., «Die Komposition der Reliefs an der Balustrade der Athena Nike», Jahreshefte des Österreichischen Archäologischen Institutes in Wien 21-22, 1922-1924, σελ. 39-40, 63, 64-66, 81, εικ. 41-42, αρ. κατ. 5 Dinsmoor, W.B., «The Sculptured Parapet of Athena Nike», American Journal of Archaeology 30, 1926, σελ. 8-9, 14, 17-18, 21, 26, 29-30 Carpenter, R., The Sculptures of the Nike Temple Parapet, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1929, σελ. 72, 75, πίν. XXXIII.4 Dinsmoor, W.B., «The Nike Parapet Once More», American Journal of Archaeology 34, 1930, σελ. 282-283, 295 Μπρούσκαρη, Μ., Μουσείον Ακροπόλεως. Περιγραφικός κατάλογος, Αθήνα, 1974, σελ. 169-170, εικ. 336, αρ. κατ. 1001 Mark, I., Nike and the Cult of Athena-Nike on the Athenian Acropolis, New York University, 1979, σελ. 159, 177-178, 185 Ridgway, B.S., Fifth Century Styles in Greek Sculpture, Princeton, 1981, σελ. 97-98, εικ. 81 Μπρούσκαρη, Μ., Το θωράκιο του Ναού της Αθηνάς Νίκης, Αρχαιολογική Εφημερίς, Αθήνα, 1998, σελ. 185-187, εικ. 48.2