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This article refers to acropoleis in general. For the best known example of the kind, see the article on Acropolis, Athens.

Acropolis in Athens
Acropolis in Athens

Acropolis (Gr. akros, top, polis, city), literally the upper part of a town. For purposes of defence early settlers naturally chose elevated ground, frequently a hill with precipitous sides, and these early citadels became in many parts of the world the nuclei of large cities which grew up on the surrounding lower ground.

The word "Acropolis", though Greek in origin and associated primarily with Greek cities (Athens, Argos, Thebes, and Corinth), may be applied generically to all such citadels (Rome, Jerusalem, Celtic Bratislava, many in Asia Minor, or even Castle Hill at Edinburgh).

The most famous example of the kind is the Acropolis of Athens, which, by reason of its historical associations and the famous buildings erected upon it, is generally known without qualification as simply "The Acropolis".

Other parts of the world developed other names for the high citadel or alcazar, which often reinforced a naturally strong site. In Central Italy, many small rural communes still cluster at the base of a fortified habitation known as "La Rocca" of the commune.

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