This is a 105 m hill that looks like an extension of the Hill of the Muses. From the end of the 6th century BC, it gradually came to be the official location for the meetings of the Athenian popular assembly.
From early antiquity on, this was a site sacred to the Nymphs. Strangely enough, the Nymphs never lost their place in popular legend, unlike the gods of Mt Olympus that Christianity displaced. According to legend, the Nymphs are masters of nature, and also can master the souls, and even the minds of mortals. Nowadays, people are no longer said to have been captured by the Nymphs (the ancient “Nymphopliktoi”), but by the fairies!
The Pnyx, site of the Athenian citizens’ assembly was initially an amphitheater facing the Acropolis. In 404-3 BC it was turned around because people attending the Assembly were admiring the monuments on the Sacred Rock, or maybe (according to Aristophanes) were just sitting there, watching the agora and reflecting on lost earnings and not paying due attention to the speakers. At the same time, the semicircle was extended and a retaining wall was built, as well as side tiers.
In the period of Lycurgus (330-326 BC), the Pnyx developed into its current form. The speakers’ podium was carved out of the natural rock and, beside this, one can still see the carved niches for the votive gifts to Zeus Hypsistos. It is believed that the sacrificial altar of Zeus Agoraios, later transferred to the Agora, initially stood above the speaker’s platform. Meton’s sundial was situated to the southwest of the podium.
Around the end of the 4th century BC, the (no longer democratic) Athenian popular assembly moved to the Theater of Dionysus. The Hill of the Nymphs was adjoined to the neighboring Hill of the Muses (Philopappos) by a branch of the fortified city walls, known as diateihisma.