Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae
The Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae was an Ancient Greek temple known for its architecture. It is located in a rural location and was dedicated to the god of healing.
The temple was built from 420 to 400 BC. Its architect probably was Iktinos. It is a Doric temple, with dimensions of 14.48 x 38.24 m. Part of it is modelled after the temple of Apollo at Delphi.
The originality of this monument lies in its internal design. A 31 meter long frieze encircled the inside on all four sides. This masterpiece has been transported to the British Museum in London. The temple also boasts the oldest Corinthian capital that has so far been found.
Visit December 2001
At a height of 1130 meter, it was freezing cold. Snow covered the surroundings. I was a lonely visitor, again. You must be mad to visit a site like this in winter, but well, I was in the area and just couldn't drive past it.
Due to extensive restauration works, the temple now lies beneath a large tent. This tent has to guard the ancient building from the sometimes severe weather conditions around here. Also precautions are taken against damage that can be done by earthquakes. Once the work is completed (who knows when), the temple will be back in open air.
Because of the works going on, not much can be seen of this precious temple. You can only view the columns from the outside, but the inside is forbidden terrain. That's a pity, I'll have to return in a few years to see what they have made of it.
John Booth - October 2015
Watching the audio-visual presentation about the restoration work I began to realise the extent of the work being performed. Each column was being raised off its foundation, a new earthquake-proof foundation was then constructed beneath. The columns were then lowered back precisely into their original positions. Inevitably this is a very slow, painstaking and expensive process.
After some 15 years about one third of the columns have been treated. So don't expect the tent shrouding the temple to be removed for a few decades yet.
Around the site are neatly catalogued rows of stones to be replaced as roof beams etc.
Clyde - June 2014
I visited this WHS in June 2014. You don't get here by chance! No doubt about that! The Temple of Apollo Epicurius is well hidden in the Arcadian Mountains at 1131m above sea level. From Ancient Olympia to this WHS there was a difference of 20 degrees, so I would definitely recommend visiting in the summer. The mountain scenery was amazing to take in and then about 14km from Andritsaina I saw the white protective tent that covers this WHS since 1987. I have mixed feelings about this tent. While I support the idea of protecting the temple from the elements (mainly ice, wind, rain and sun) it would obviously be a greater sight to behold without the tent. Moreover, the tent needs to be taken care of as parts of it got torn and quite a lot of rainwater and mud got on the doric columns and on the information display screens which were switched off and don't work anymore. This WHS was the first inscribed WHS from Greece in 1986 and is worth a visit if you're nearby.
John Purvis - December 2013
I visited Bassae in 1959 when the road tomit had only recently been built and was still a dirt road. The site and particularly the condition of this temple were magnificent. I can not understand why it has been necessary to encase it in a tent and risk damage from damp to a structure which has successfully survived 2400 plus years. Please finish your works, if indeed they are necessary, and reopen it to its proper inspirational position on the mountain top.
David Smith - August 2013
I was on my own travelling around southern Greece in 2008 and stayed the night in Andritsena as for ages I had wanted to see the temple at Bassae. Staying at another room in the house was a couple who were cycling on a tandem from Rome to Athens. The following morning the man asked if I could give him a lift in my car to the temple as he didn't want to cycle all that way uphill! So I took him even though I had already been the day before and somehow as I was sharing the experience with another it meant so much more to me this second time. It was a Saturday morning and no one else was around: it was bright but cold and seeing that lovely building again with someone to discuss it with was terrific. I'll go again one day but we went back in the car to Andritsena and they cycled onwards to Athens: I don't know who they were but he helped me enjoy my time at Bassae so much.
George Mitakidis - September 2010
I have visited three times the temple.
The temple is in a great danger because of the humidity.
The textile cover supposed to be temporary but is more than 24 years that is still there.
The cover keeps the humidity which damage slowly the marmus
Hope that UNESCO will take care as soon as possible
Ilja Meijer-Samson - December 2008
Even though the temple of Epicurius Apollo is being restorated at the moment and sheltered by a large tent, I found it to be breathtakingly beautiful. I can recommend it to everyone. The best way to go there is south from Andritsaina. We made the mistake to drive north from Kopanaki: a 2 - 2,5 hour drive through the mountains.
(August 9th, 2008).
Douglas Scully - April 2006
I visited Bassae in 1975. The trip from the coast to get there was through beautiful mountain scenery. As we got closer to the temple the road deteriorated and was full of portions that had broken off and fallen down the slope of the hills. It became foggy and suddenly a few goats suddenly darted across the road (omens of the gods?). Arriving at the temple my wife and I were the only ones there (except for our cab driver). The isolation and fog made for a magical feeling. The temple wasn't enclosed in a tent then, there was no admission fee, and you could wander wherever you wanted. The temple was maginificent, very well preserved, and worth the long trip to get there. Its interior layout was unlike any of the many Greek temples that I have visited. It was a most memorable visit.
David Berlanda - March 2006
In our trip to Greece we have visited the stunning ruins of the temple of Bassae, dedicated by the ancient inhabitants of Phigalia to Apollo Epicurius, the god solar and healer who had come to help them when they were beset by an epidemic of the plague, during the war of the Peloponnese. It was built in the 5th century B.C. (in the opinion of Pausanias by the architect Ictinos, the constructer of the Parthenon, on the place of an earlier temple) near the present village of Andritsaina, on a mount 1130 m high, and belongs to the fist generation of post-Parthenonian buildings. It remained undiscovered because of its isolation, until a French architect came upon it accidentally in 1765 and brought it to the attention of the academic world; the archeological investigation were profitable but prejudicial to the integrity of the monument, that was divested of the internal architrave of the cella, with the Ionic 22 frieze’s sculptured plates (with the Centauromachy and the Amazonomachy, maybe sculpted by Kallimachos), acquired in 1814 by order of the future king George IV of England and transferred to the British Museum with the oldest Corinthian capital. It was restored in 1902 and in 1965 and is now entirely shored up and covered by a tent (the restoration and consolidation works continue), because its critical state. The peripteral building, 39.87 m long and 16.13 m large, is oriented to the north and not to the east, as usual. In Doric order is the outer colonnade, with preserved architraves and six columns on the fronts and fifteen on the sides, and the front of the pronaos and the opisthodomos (that didn’t give access to the temple), with two in antis columns. In the cella are two rows (that form a sort of lateral niches) of four imbedded Ionic columns standing against and in parallel with low support walls, each ending with an imbedded diagonal Corinthian column. Between them, in the centre of the temple, is one alone Corinthian column, the most ancient conserved, that separated the cella and the adyton, the room where was conserved the statue of the god, with an opening on the east wall, direction in which were oriented all the other temples. The walls, the bases and the tambours of the columns are made of local grey limestone and the Ionic and Corinthian capitals, the sculptured metopes on the exterior frieze of the cella, the plates of the Ionic frieze which runs along the inside of the sanctuary, the guttae, the roof supports and the roofing tiles are made of Doliana marble.
This temple is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, because of the quality of its architecture, even if I was at first disappointed by the tent that cover it and by its state of conservation. It’s absolutely worth to be visited (even if it’s difficult to get there), also because it is one of the most preserved Greek temples and the most unusual one, and justifies the inscription.
Photo: Bassae – Temple of Apollo Epicurius
While in Olympia for a couple of days, I hiered myself a local guide to take me up the mountains to visit the temple of Vasses, my 142nd World Heritage Site. Driving along the steep sloapes and the mountain villages was quite an experience on this warm July afternoon. Finally reached the temple, still wrapped up in it's tent but in a very good shape. While you're there, also take the opportunity to climb up the extra 150 meters to the small temples on the nearby mountain top. From here you have an outstanding view of the surrounding landscape and also get a good feel for the nature in the Greek mountains
Approaching this out of the way site, it looks like a disused masons yard with a gigantic tent at its edge. But once inside the tent, which is truely enormous, you are treated to a sight which is awe inspiring in its magnificence. I was immediately struck by its sanctity, even though I am not a particularly religious person myself. All hail to UNESCO and others who are working so hard to preserve this wonderful temple.
A temple must be open to the sky and to the gods -- this tent destroys the temple as a temple.
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Full name: Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae
1986 - InscribedReasons for inscription
The site has 7 connections.
- Designed by famous architects Ictinus
- Built in the 5th century BC built from 420 to 400 BC
- First inscriptions Greece 1986
- In the British museum "Bassae Sculptures" - Twenty three blocks from the frieze that ran around the interior of the building showing the battle between the Greeks and Amazons and the Lapiths and Centaurs.
- Modelled after Part of it is modelled after the temple of Apollo at Delphi.
- Protective Shelters Covered by a large tent