The Greek civilization renowned for its brilliant architecture boasts of culture and heritage dedicated to many Greek Gods. Dating back to 6th century BC, the monuments and ruins still speak of thousands of stories lost or otherwise. Mainland Greece, the islands, in Asia Minor and Greek colonies such as Sicily and Italy—are some of the best places of ancient Greek architecture. Some of the Greek temples that you must-see are highlighted here.
Massive columns are the most renowned feature of the Greek temple. Three types of columns used by the Greeks mainly include the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian order. Let’s read further to find out more!
1. Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounio
Located at the southernmost tip of Greek peninsula of Attica, water surrounds Temple of Poseidon on 3 sides. This Doric style temple, though now in ruins, stands proud since 440 BC. Over 30 white marble columns made up this temple dedicated to the sea god, Poseidon, out of which only 15 remain to this date. The view of the sunset from here makes it one of the Greek temples you must-see.
2. Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens
Set in the heart of Athens is the Greek temple dedicated to the king of Olympian gods, Zeus. Also known as ‘Olympeion’, this temple is believed to be the largest one in the whole of Greece. The Temple evidently included 104 grand columns of which only 15 now remain. Though the vision and construction of this temple began in 6th century BC, it was finished in 2nd century BC after about 630 years later.
3. Temple of Apollo, Bassae
The Temple of Apollo Epicurius is located on a remote mountainside in the Peloponnese at Bassae. Constructed in 450-400 century BC, at present, a tent covers the temple to protect it from any damage.
Due to the steep mountain area, this temple aligns in north-south whereas most Greek temples align in the direction of east-west. Another unusual fact about this temple includes all 3 types of column architecture. The gallery is styled in Doric columns while Ionic columns support the porch and the interior is featured in Corinthian columns.
4. Parthenon, Athens
Standing proudly on top of the Acropolis in Athens, the Parthenon undeniably remains the most famous Doric temple. Dedicated to Goddess Athena, the temple dates back to 447 century BC. Believed to house a statue in gold and ivory for its patron, it subjected to loot and later destroyed in Constantinople. The temple served as a fortress, a mosque, and a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
4. Temple of Hephaestus, Athens
Dedicated to the God of Craftsmanship and Fire, the Temple of Hephaestus is one of the famous temples in Athens. Its architecture is quite similar to the Temple of Poseidon, hence believed to be constructed by the same architect. This temple made of Pentelic and Parian marble is one of the best-preserved Greek temples in the world. In the 5th century BC, the temple contained many foundries and metalwork shops.
The temple also boasts of a shrine dedicated to the hero Theseus.
5. Valley of Temples
Valley of Temples perched on a ridge in Sicily speaks for itself. Home to around 7 temples constructed in 510 BCE and 430 BCE, this famous Greek Temple is one of the largest and best-preserved Doric style temples. Temple of Juno used to the celebration of weddings whereas Temple of Heracles remains to be the oldest. Temple of Concordia is the most well-preserved temple in this archaeological park.
Other temples include Temple of Zeus, Temple of Castor and Pollux, Temple of Hephaestos, Temple of Demeter and Temple of Asclepius.
6. Temple of Hera, Olympia
Also known as the Heraion, the Temple of Hera is an excellent example of ancient Archaic architecture. Constructed in 590 BC, the temple hails in the name of Queen of Gods and wife of Zeus, Hera. A temple dedicated to Zeus also stands nearby.
Initially, it is believed, the temple was made of wood but later it was replaced by stones. Built following the aesthetics of Doric architecture, the temple had 16 columns. The temple used to store items important to Greek culture and offerings of the people. Now, the Olympic Flames blazes here every 4 years.
During the 4th century BC, an earthquake destroyed the beautiful House of Hera. During excavation, a marble head of Hera and statue of Hermes was found. It now rests in the museum of the temple.
7. The Erectheum, Athens
The most iconic Greek temples that you must-see is in the capital of Greece. It stands proudly in the north side of Acropolis of Athens. Immensely popular for its southern porch of six caryatids known as ‘Porch of Maidens’. The female sculptures act as architectural support. This complex design is believed to be developed in the Golden era of Athens City. during 421-407 BC, which is known to be
The columns are ionic in style. Named after a shrine dedicated to Greek hero Erichthonius, the temple hails in the name of Poseidon and Athena, defender of the city.
Paestum is an ancient Greco-Roman city located in southern Italy. The side of the temple boasts of 3 well preserved Greek temples. The oldest temple in Paestum is the Temple of Hera, built around 550 BC. Built around 500 BC, the Temple of Athena stands further away. About a century later, another temple dedicated to Hera, Goddess of marriage and childbirth, erected in this place. Doric style of columns prevails in this architecture.
9. Temple of Athena, Delphi
Located in the archaeological site of Delphi, the temple at the sanctuary of Athena Pronoia appears as a circular temple constructed between 380 and 360 BC. The monument comprises of 20 Doric columns on the outside with 10 Corinthian columns on the inside. Though, now only 3 of them remain standing.
The most impressive standing building along the path is the Treasury of Athenians, a small Doric building of colourful Parian marble. It most definitely falls under the category of Greek temples you must-see!