Temple of Apollo Epicurius

Oichalia, Greece

Bassae is an archaeological site in Oichalia, the northeastern part of Messenia, Greece. In classical antiquity, it was part of Arcadia. It is famous for the well-preserved mid- to late-5th century BC Temple of Apollo Epicurius.

Although this temple is geographically remote from major polities of ancient Greece, it is one of the most studied ancient Greek temples because of its multitude of unusual features. Bassae was the first Greek site to be inscribed on the World Heritage List, in 1986.

History of the Temple of Apollo Epicurius

The temple of Apollo Epikourios construction is placed between 450 BC and 400 BC; the plague its dedication related to was probably the plague of Athens of 430 BC. It was in use until the 4th- or 5th-century AD, when all pagan temples were forcibly closed during the persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire. Probably because of the remoteness of the site, the temple remained unusually well-preserved. Depictions by artists, which begin in the early 19th century, show the pteron or external colonnade standing complete, and the architrave nearly so. The internal walls were a mass of fallen blocks, but relatively few had been removed for reuse, the normal fate of these conveniently sized pieces.

The temple is unusual in that it has examples of all three of the classical orders used in ancient Greek architecture: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. Doric columns form the peristyle while Ionic columns support the interior and a single Corinthian column features in the centre of the interior. The Corinthian capital is the earliest example of the order found to date.

Archaeology

The temple appears to have been forgotten for almost 1700 years until it was rediscovered in the 18th century and attracted intense interest from scholars and artists. The isolation of the site ensured many significant features survived largely intact. The temple is one of the earliest post-Parthenonian edifices and the earliest monument in which all three ancient Greek architectural orders – Doric, Ionic and Corinthian – are found together. It also included the earliest surviving Corinthian column capital. The temple further exhibits a number of bold and innovative architectural designs that mark a turning point in the development of temple-building. Through a series of ingenious devices, the architect successfully balanced contrasting elements and blended the old with the new, contributing to the unique architectural and artistic value of the monument. The temple, as well as its sculptural decoration consist one of the best-preserved samples of the ancient Greek civilization, from the period of its heyday (5th century BC).

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Oichalia, Greece
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Details

Founded: 450-400 BCE
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Greece

Rating

4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Suzie Paladin Princess (54 days ago)
It's just incredible that something like this still exists in our time. It's a bit too bad that the canopy (tent) is still on it, but even when we were there they are working on the structure. It's a bit out of the way to drive up there, but if you are interested in history, it's well worth a visit.
G Mac (7 months ago)
Getting to this site can be challenging on your own but it is worth the trip. It is an UNESCO heritage site and whilst it is being preserved a huge tent has been constructed to cover it. This in itself is an amazing if feat. There are archeologists working there constantly and it is fascinating to see the video explaining the site. Well worth the effort, an amazing place.
Nikolina Linca (7 months ago)
This temple is one of the best preserved temples in Greece. It is covered in order to protect from the rain and sun. The magnificence and beauty of this temple are incredible. Highly recommended!
Victoria Ivanova (9 months ago)
Of course, you should visit this temple if you are resting nearby and if you are interested in ancient architecture. Only if you want to personally view this temple. It is covered with a tent protecting it from destruction, since The temple was constructed entirely out of grey Arcadian limestone and all these years there has been reconstruction. admission is 6 euros.
manos psathas (2 years ago)
The Temple of Epicurius Apollo built at the end of the 5th century BC (420-400) is the work of the architect of the Parthenon Iktinos and dedicated to the God Apollo.Entrance €=6, reduced ticket €=3. The Church is a pavilion, a six-star, Doric order. One of its many peculiar features is that on the long sides it has 15 columns (and not 13, as one would expect based on the normal for the time ratio, which wants the long sides to have twice the number of columns than the narrow ones plus one). Apart from the Doric style external colonnade, elements of the other two styles, the Ionic and the Corinthian, coexist in the architecture of the temple. The three styles of ancient Greek architecture were combined in such a masterful way that the Temple of Apollo Epicurius was considered one of the most important ancient temples. We hope that at some point the restoration and maintenance works of the Church will be completed because the image it has been presenting for several years degrades and does NOT highlight this excellent work.
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