The monumental gateway to the Acropolis, the Propylaea was built under the general direction of the Athenian leader Pericles, but Phidias was given the responsibility for planning the rebuilding the Acropolis as a whole at the conclusion of the Persian Wars.
According to Plutarch, the Propylaea was designed by the architect Mnesicles, but we know nothing more about him.
Construction began in 437 BCE and was terminated in 432, when the building was still unfinished. The Propylaea was constructed of white Pentelic marble and gray Eleusinian marble or limestone, which was used only for accents. Structural iron was also used, though William Bell Dinsmoor analyzed the structure and concluded that the iron weakened the building.
The structure consists of a central building with two adjoining wings on the west (outer) side, one to the north and one to the south. The core is the central building, which presents a standard six-columned Doric façade both on the West to those entering the Acropolis and on the east to those departing. The columns echo the proportions (not the size) of the columns of the Parthenon. There is no surviving evidence for sculpture in the pediments.
Today the Propylaea has been partly restored, since 1984 under the direction of Dr. Tasos Tanoulas, and serves as the main entrance to the Acropolis for the many thousands of tourists who visit the area every year.
In the period before the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, the Propylaea was shrouded in scaffolding as restoration work was undertaken. At the end of 2009 all scaffolding was removed, and the building is now open fully to view again. The famous ceilings have even been partly restored.