agora [Gr.,=market], in ancient Greece, the public square or marketplace of a city. In early Greek history the agora was primarily used as a place for public assembly; later it functioned mainly as a center of commerce. Usually in a readily accessible part of the city, it was often surrounded by the public buildings, such as the royal palace, the law courts, the assembly house, and the jail. A favorite architectural device was the colonnade surrounding the agora. One of the highest honors was to be granted a tomb in the agora. The agora was similar to the Roman forum.

The Agora was an open "place of assembly" in ancient Greek city-states. Early in Greek history (900s–700s BCE), free-born male land-owners who were citizens would gather in the agora for military duty or to hear statements of the ruling king or council. Later in Greek history, the agora served as a marketplace where merchants kept stalls or shops to sell their goods amid colonnades.

Classical Athens boasted a large agora (Agora of Athens) in the heart of the city. Under the Athenian dictators Pisistratus and Hippias, the agora was cleared to a rectangular open area of about 600 by 750 yards, bordered with grand public buildings.


The American School of Classical Studies has been excavating the ancient Athenian agora since 1931. In the 1950s, the Hellenistic Stoa of Attalos was reconstructed on the east side of the agora, and today it serves as a museum and as storage and office space for the excavation team.

The word agoraphobia, the fear of critical public situations, derives from agora in its meaning as a temple.

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