The Temple of Apollo Epicurius
This fascinating Unesco World Heritage Site is one of the most impressive and best preserved ones. The Temple of Apollo Epicurius –also known as the Parthenon of the Peloponnese– was built in the 5th century BC by Ictinus, one of the two architects of the Athens Acropolis. Story has it that the Temple was dedicated to God Apollo who helped the people of the ancient city of Phigaleia to overcome an epidemic. To honor God Apollo, the people erected the temple, surnaming it Epicurius (a name that signifies “the one who helps or cures”). Vividly described by the Greek traveler, Pausanias, as a magnificent testament of majesty and strength, the Temple embodies in its structure the entire wealth of architectural knowledge of Greek civilization; combining all three of the classical orders used in ancient Greek architecture: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. It is speculated that the Temple of Apollo Epicurius was designed to reflect the first rays of the summer solstice –making it the first large scale sculptural work of art in history to represent an abstract concept– and that it also slides 50.2 seconds of a degree every year, so as to constantly facing the star Sirius; which was believed to be the birthplace of God Apollo. Currently, the British Museum features one of the sculptured friezes of the temple, the one depicting Hercules leading the Greeks into battle with the Amazons. The Temple of Apollo Epicurius rests 11km (7 miles) from the Abeliona Retreat, which is a comfortable 15 min. drive by car. If you prefer, you can take a 2.5hour hike in nature, following a fascinating flagged mountain path of 7.5km (4.5 miles), to reach the Temple by foot.