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Temple of Apollo Epikourios

History

In the beginning of the 7th century BC, the Spartans captured Phigaleia and the inhabitants abandoned their city to save themselves. They consulted the oracle of Delphi to learn how they could recover their city. The oracle told them that they had to fight the Spartans hiring one hundred warriors from a neigbouring city and that god Apollo would help them as well. When the people of Phigaleia were restored to their homeland, they wished to thank Apollo for assisting them in returning to their native city. Thus, 8 km from their city they built, on a natural plateau, a temple dedicated to the god (Apollo the Helper). The first temple of Apollo Epikourios was made of wood. A few centuries later, during the fifth century BC, when Apollo saved them once more from the plague, the inhabitants decided to call Ictinus, the architect from Athens, to build them a new temple so as to satisfy Apollo once more.

Site

This remote temple is situated high up in the mountains at a height of 1130 m. The fact that it is so well preserved has partly to do with the inaccessibility of the area. In other areas they would have used the temple material to build their houses or churches. The temple escaped both these fates since it was not easy to get here. In the autumn of 1987, the monument was covered with a temporary canopy. The tent was constructed to protect the temple against the elements (weather can be quite rough at this altitude).

The temple, as we see it today, was built during the 5th century BC by the very famous architect from Athens, Ictinus (the same architect who built the Parthenon).

The building material used for the temple is the local limestone and what makes this building really special is that it combines all three architectural orders (Doric, Ionic and Corinthian).

Apart from all the special architectural features of the temple, it is worth seeing how technology has been applied in order to preserve the temple. For example, a network of special devices has been set in place to record seismic events and the behavior of the individual parts. If you decide to visit, ask the guard to show you the documentary which explains everything about the restoration project.

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