On top of Agoraios Kolonos hill, which is delimiting the Ancient Agora of Athens to the west, stands the Temple of Hephaestus, broadly known as Thisio.
It is one of the best preserved ancient temples, partly because it was transformed into a Christian church. According to the traveller and geographer Pausanias (1, 14, 5-6), two deities were jointly worshipped in the temple: god Hephaestus, protector of all metallurgists, and goddess Athena Ergani, protecting all potters and the cottage industries.
The identification of this temple as Hephaesteion (location of worship of the god Hephaestus) was ascertained by the excavations and investigations that brought to light metallurgy workshops on the wider area of the hill, thus outshining earlier opinions presuming that Theseus, Hercules or Aris (Mars) were the deities worshipped there.
Hephaestus was the patron god of metal working, craftsmanship, and fire. There were numerous potters’ workshops and metal-working shops in the vicinity of the temple, as befits the temple’s honoree. Archaeological evidence suggests that there was no earlier building on the site except for a small sanctuary that was burned when the Persians occupied Athens in 480 BCE.
The name Theseion or Temple of Theseus was attributed to the monument under the assumption it housed the remains of the Athenian hero Theseus, brought back to the city from the island of Skyros by Kimon in 475 BCE, but refuted after inscriptions from within the temple associated it firmly with Hephaestus.
The temple was probably erected between 460 and 420 BC by a yet unknown architect, to whom, however, are attributed other temples of similar structure in the Attica region.