Temple of Apollo (Syracuse)

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The Temple of Apollo (Tempio di Apollo, Greek: Ἀπολλώνιον Apollonion), is one of the most important ancient Greek monuments on the Isand of Ortygia, in front of the Piazza Pancali in modern Syracuse, Sicily, Italy.

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Dating to the 6th century BCE, this temple is one of the most ancient Doric temples in Sicily, and among the first with the layout consisting of a peripteros of stone columns. This layout became standard for Greek temples. The temple underwent several transformations: closed during the persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire, it was a Byzantine church, from which period the front steps and traces of a central door are preserved, and then an Islamic mosque during the Emirate of Sicily. After the Norman defeat of the Saracens, it was reconsecrated at the Church of the Saviour, which was then incorporated into a 16th-century CE Spanish barracks and into private houses, though some architectural elements remained visible. These successive renovations severely damaged the building, which were rediscovered around 1890 inside the barracks and was brought to light in its entirety thanks to the efficient excavations of Paolo Orsi.


circa 70-80 CE

The construction of a building with forty-two monolithic columns, probably transported by sea, must have seemed incredible to its builders, as demonstrated by the unusual inscription on the top step on the eastern face dedicated to Apollo, in which the builder (or the architect) celebrates the construction of the building with an emphasis on the pioneering character of the construction.

circa 70-80 CE

The temple's stylobate measures 55.36 x 21.47 metres, with its very squat columns in a 6 x 17 arrangement. It represents the moment of transition in the Greek west between temples with a wooden structure and those built completely out of stone, with a hexastyle front and a continuous colonnade around the perimeter which surrounds the pronaos and a naos divided into three aisles by two internal colonnades of more slender columns, which supported a wooden roof, which is difficult to reconstruct. At the back of the naos was a closed space, typical of Sicelian temples, called an adyton.

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