The Roman emperor Hadrian had a great affection for Athens. Although he did his fair share of spiriting its classical artwork to Rome, he also embellished the city with many monuments influenced by classical architecture. His arch is a lofty monument of Pentelic marble that stands where busy Leoforos Vasilissis Olgas and Leoforos Vasilissis Amalias meet. Hadrian erected it in AD 132, probably to commemorate the consecration of the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
The inscriptions show that it was also intended as a dividing point between the ancient and Roman city. The northwest frieze reads, ‘This is Athens, the Ancient city of Theseus’, while the southeast frieze states, ‘This is the city of Hadrian, and not of Theseus’.