Temples were the most important building types in Greece. They were built as monuments to many different gods and served as a place of worship. Visitors to the temples brought goods to offer up in prayer to their gods in hope that they would grant their wish. In short, temples brought hope--one of the most important factors in life. Many of these massive stone monuments have withstood the trials of time in Greece. Today, visitors can tour their ancient ruins and feel the presence of so many people who have passed that way. Here are five breath-taking temples that visitor's to Greece cannot pass up.
Erechtheum is an Ionic style Greek temple located on the northern side of the Acropolis of Athens. While not the most famous temple, it easy earns accolades as one of the best preserved temples in Greece. The temple was created between 421 and 407 BC and was used to worship several Gods including Athene Polias, Hephaestus, Poseidon and Erechtheus, a mythical king of Athens born from the gods in which the temple gets its name. The most distinctive feature of the temple is the unique porch supported by Caryatids, columns in the shape of female figures. Visitors to this temple can explore the grounds and even catch a glance at its pillars up close. It provides an amazing glance into the past due to how well preserved the whole structure is.
Temple of Apollo Epicurius
The Temple of Apollo Epicurius is located on the southern island of Peloponnese inside what once was the city of Bassae on top of the steep Arcadian Mountains. All that remains of Bassae now are ruins and an archaeological site dedicated to studying it. The city belonged to the Corinthians and is among one of the oldest Corinthian capitals found to date. Like its name suggests, the temple is dedicated to Apollo Epicurius, a god-healer who had come to the aid of the local people after their city was beset upon by plague. Although the city is older, the temple dates back to the 5th century BC and combines stunning Archaic and Doric features in one of the most daring architectural structures of the ancient world. Unlike typical Greek temples that run east to west, aligned with the sun, the Temple of Apollo Epicurius runs north to south due to limited space. Much of the temple is well preserved, but there are often archaeological teams in the area so visitors may sometimes be limited to viewing it from afar.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Temples dedicated to Zeus, the ruler of the gods, are always some of the most breath-taking ancient ruins. In praise of such a glorious god, the Greeks built the most magnificent temples in his honour. The Temple of Olympian Zeus in Central Athens is a colossal ruin. Construction started in the 6th century BC, but it was not completed until the 2nd century AD. At the time of its completion, it was considered the largest and most impressive temple in all of Greece--however, today only fragments remain. Visitors can view the many columns that stand in some spots while only foundation remains elsewhere. Regardless, the sheer sprawling magnificence of the ruins is enough to leave visitors awe-struck.
Temple of Hephaestus
Around 500 metres northwest of the famous Acropolis in Athens is the Temple of Hephaestus. The temple is far less well known compared to the other temples within the area, but it has been named the most well-preserved temple in Greece. Its overshadowed reputation is not without some humour, considering Hephaestus served as blacksmith to the gods, sporting an ugly face and limp, he was the least favoured on Olympus. This temple was built in the 5th century in the middle of many foundries and metalwork shops. The temple was yet another impressive structure designed by Ictinus, one of the architects that worked on the illustrious Parthenon. Today, visitors can walk through the temple that is complete with roof and walls. Visitors can even leave tribute at the altar if they have something to offer.
On the very tip-top of the Athenian Acropolis is the most famous temple in Greece, as well as its most popular tourist attraction. A visit to Athens is simply not complete without a visit to this landmark that sits perched over the ancient city. The Parthenon as it currently stands was built in worship of Athena, the goddess of war and wisdom. Although the Parthenon was built well before being dedicated to Athena--its original purpose is unknown. The older temple was built long before the Minoans and Mycenaens set the structure of that would later become Greece, but the original Parthenon was destroyed by the Persians. The Parthenon as it stands today was completed in 432 BC to house a massive and beautiful statue of Athena Parthenon made from ivory, silver and gold. The temple was later looted by Roman Emperors and the statue was taken to Constantinople. Today, visitors can head up to the Parthenon and enjoy its fading glory and be treated to one of the best views over modern Athens.