E-Mail to International Stoic Forum by Mark Travis, dated August 23, 2007

Mark is checking on some details pertaining to points of disagreement between what he writes here and what is now claimed on the main Stoa Poikilê page (which I believe is confirmed by the photos at the Athenian Agora Excavations website). We may decide to modify what is written below.--J.G.

I have some information regarding the Painted Porch which I hope would be suitable for adding to "The Stoic Place" under the "Stoa Poikile" category.  I had lunch at the Stoa Poikile in Athens a few months ago.

Stoa Poikile's Current Entryway as of 5/2007

That photo was taken while facing west from the street amongst the tables and chairs in front of the business.

There's no contemporary map which defines this address (14 Agiou Filippou Road) as referencing a building which is in the same physical location as that of the ancient Stoa Poikile.  Most of the ancient Agora (marketplace) of Athens is protected in an outdoor museum.  The ruins are clearly marked, and visitors can walk throughout the area during appropriate hours.  However, some locations which were part of the ancient Agora, including the Stoa Poikile, are outside of the boundaries of this museum, and are now covered by modern roads and buildings. 

The following three maps, together with the above image, should be proof enough that the place in the photo sits at least partially upon the  foundations of the ancient Painted Porch.

First, the closest address to that of the contemporary Stoa Poikile which Yahoo maps has is for 12 Agiou Filippou.  I don't specifically recall the entity residing at 12 Agiou Filippou, but I believe that it is very safe to assume that 12 Agiou Filippou is right next door to the current business which calls itself Stoa Poikile, pictured above, at 14 Agiou Filippou.  Yahoo pinpoints the address for the next door neighbor here, on the first map.  On that map, the "A" in the center marks the location of 12 Agiou Filippou.  Memory tells me that it's just a bit to the north of 14 Agiou Filippou, the Stoa Poikile, pictured above.  The green area just south of point "A" labelled "Archaia Agora" is the Agora museum.  Adriannou (Hadrian's Road) borders the north side of the Agora museum, and Filippou runs perpendicular to Adriannou.

The second map shows the Agora as it was prior to current times, including the Stoa Poikile.  This map (or one nearly identical to it) was available for sale at the Agora Museum in Athens for 3 euros when I visited in May.  The Agora Museum is bounded by a fence on the north border with Adriannou.  There is a gate which functions as an entry/exit point to the museum which is very close to what is described as the "Altar of 12 Gods".  I recall the exit to be just north of that point, and is on Panathenaic Way, which is labelled on the 2nd map as Panathenaenweg.  Panathenaic way no longer extends past the current grounds of the museum.  This photo was taken while standing just within the museum grounds on Panathenaic Way facing the northern gate.

There may still be some room for doubt because of the lack of precise mapping of landmarks on the northern part of the ancient Agora which now lies north of Adriannou.  The 3rd map should dispel any remaining doubts.  It has more detail of the specific landmarks in the area than the first map from Yahoo, but it doesn't mark the address of the neighbor as Yahoo's map does.  This map shows the location of the church labelled "Ag. Filipos" as being on the East side of Agios Filippos road.  Referring to map 2, that of the pre-modern Agora, we can see that Agios Philippos is directly east across a road from the Stoa Poikile.  Our Stoa was located just west across that road from that little church, and the building on that site now houses a cafe/club called "Stoa Poikile".

Evidence provided by Map 1 showing the address of the neighbor is perhaps a bit superflous, but it helps to pinpoint the address to that spot.

This photograph from the current "The Stoic Place" site does not show the site of the ancient Stoa Poikile.  For starters, our Stoa has a modern building sitting upon its ruins as described in the first part of this message.   Further, I am nearly positive that the above photograph is that of the ruins of the Stoa Basileios (Royal Stoa).  Either that or the submitter of the image to Dr. Garrett mistook the Stoa Basileios for the Stoa Poikile.  100M or so west of the current Stoa Poikile restaurant on Adriannou Street is a fenced-off excavation site.  Signs on that fence describe it as the site of the Stoa Basileios.  I did not photograph that site and cannot prove that the image above is of the ruins of the Stoa Basileios.  However, this web page corroborates the existence of an excavation at the site of the Stoa Basileios:

"It was long thought that the Royal Stoa (Stoa Basileios) was identical with the Stoa of Zeus, but it has now been located in the new excavation area north of the Piraeus railroad."

There is an excavation site just north of the contemporary Agora Museum, but it's that of the Stoa Basileios and not of the Stoa Poikile.  If the photo on The Stoic Place web site is that of a Stoa from the northern part of the Athens Agora, then it's of the Stoa Basileios.

Further evidence of the information I've provided comes from my memory of that day.  I didn't have any surveying tools, but I was at the locations I've described above on May 2, 2007, with a hard-copy map similar to map 2 above.  I specifically set out to find the Stoa Poikile.  As I left the north gate of the Agora Museum, I walked first towards the site of the Stoa Basileios so as to triangulate upon the Stoa Poikile.  I knew from the map that Basileios was a bit West of Poikile.  I walked slowly eastward along the north of Adriannou, often stopping to look back at the two points of the triangle whose location that I knew:  one was Basileios and the other was the exit point from the museum.  I came to Agios Filipou road, and turned left (north).  I felt as though I was getting close!  I walked towards what I believed should have been the site of the Stoa Poikile, and came to a building with a sign out front saying "Stoa Poikile".  I had found what I sought, and the current residents of the site corroborated this by way of the name they have given the present establishment.

At this point I went back to the Stoa Attalos, which is part of the Agora Museum.  The Stoa Attalos is restored from ruins, and houses many wonderful sculptures.  Nike from the Stoa Attalos entranced me.  I literally gasped when I came to it, and found it more beautiful than the famous Winged Nike of Samothrace that is showcased in the Louvre.  Anyway, I returned to my wife who was enjoying the sculptures in the cool shade of the marble Stoa.  Marble is like air conditioning!  It stays cool to the touch even after hours of beating from the sun.  No wonder the Athenians loved spending time in their stoas.  After rejoining my wife, we returned to the Stoa Poikile for a late lunch.  They gave me a menu as a souvenir, along with a half-page description of the site in Greek.  I don't know enough Greek to translate the document, but I can scan it and send it to anybody who wants to spend the time.  The decor was funky and eclectic.  The place purports to be an "Art Cafe", so they had paintings covering just about every wall.  Here's a photo of one of the multiple liquor bars on the premises.

It's possible that the remains of the original Stoa Poikile are visible at the site of the current establishment by that name.  A waiter said that those remains were "very very old--over 200 years," but I believe that he meant to say that they were over 2,000 years old.  I can't imagine an Athenian describing something as being "very, very old" if it's only from 200 years back.  He spoke better English than I did Greek, so I couldn't clarify the matter further with him.  The part of the ground which was not covered by modern flooring had stone formations in the ground shaped like donuts.  I think that these could have had marble columns set upon them at some point.  I walked upon them which means that I have probably walked upon the save floor as did Zeno and friends.

Let the mystery of the Stoa Poikile be solved!  The site currently houses a restaurant of the same name.

Jan or anybody else, please feel free to use these observations and photos hosted under http://flickr.com/photos/mtravis9/ for any purposes, including improving content for "The Stoic Place" web site.  Obviously, I can't give permission to use the map images hosted on other sites.  I encourage everybody to visit Athens and have a nice meal at Our Stoa, and regret that I've procrastinated this message past the point at which Jan could have done so on his recent visit there.