The Museum of the Ancient Agora of Athens, one of the capital's most important archaeological sites, is housed in the restored building of the Stoa of Attalos. In antiquity, stoas were public buildings, with at least one side supported by columns and open to the outdoors. Stoas are found in sanctuaries, agoras, theaters, and gymnasia. Normally, they served to house commercial activities and as a place for walks, providing shade and cool in the summer and protection from rain and wind in the winter.
The Stoa of Attalos owes its name to the King of Pergamon, Attalos II (159-138 BC) from the Macedonian dynasty of the Attalids, who funded its construction. Son of King Attalos I and Queen Apollonis and brother of Eumenes II (197-159 BC), he was a friend and benefactor of the Athenians, in common with his brother, who paid for the construction of another stoa on the south slope of the Acropolis. When they were young, the two brothers had studied philosophy, rhetoric and logic in the schools of Athens.