Temple of Hera, Olympia

The Temple of Hera, or Heraion, is an ancient Archaic Greek temple at Olympia, Greece, that was dedicated to Hera, queen of the Greek Gods.[1] The temple was built in approximately 590 BC, but was destroyed by an earthquake in the early 4th century CE

In the Archaic Greek time period, the temple stored items important to Greek culture, and other offerings of the people. In modern times, the torch of the Olympic flame is lit in its ruins.[2]

Olympia - Temple of Hera 3
Restored ruins of the temple
Plan Olympia sanctuary-en
Olympia site map: #4 Temple of Hera is in dark purple (top center). The long ancient Olympic stadium is at far right.


Plan of the Heraeum
Plan of the Temple of Hera. (A: Peristyle; B: Pronaos; C: Naos; D: Opisthodomos; E: Base of Statue of Hermes).

The Heraion at Olympia, located in the north of the sacred precinct, the Altis, is one of the earliest Doric temples in Greece, and the oldest peripteral temple at that site, having a single row of columns on all sides. The location may have previously been the place of worship of an older cult.

The temple was erected in around 590 BC, most likely as a dedication by the Triphylian polis of Skillous. It is suggested that this dedication by a nearby city would originally have been in honour of the main patron deity at Olympia, Zeus, and rededicated to Hera, his wife and sister, at a later point—perhaps after 580 BC when control of Olympia had passed from Triphylia to Elis, or in the 5th century BC when the famous Temple of Zeus was built.



The temple measures 50.01 by 18.76 m (164.1 by 61.5 ft) at the level of the temple platform, the stylobate. It was longer and narrower than the common architecture of the previous era, though the elongated proportions are a common feature of early Doric architecture. It has a peripteros — a colonnaded perimeter — of 6 by 16 columns which were originally wooden because those were the materials available at the time.

The travel writer Pausanias described it in his Description of Greece:

"It remains after this for me to describe the temple of Hera [at Olympia] and the noteworthy objects contained in it. The Elean account says that it was the people of Skillos, one of the cities in Triphylia, who built the temple about eight years after Oxylos came to the throne of Elis. The style of the temple is Doric, and pillars stand all round it. In the rear chamber one of the two pillars is of oak. The length of the temple is one hundred and sixty-nine feet, the breadth sixty-three feet, the height not short of fifty feet. Who the architect was they do not relate. [3]


Hera-tempel - Dorisch kapiteel
Doric capital at the Temple of Hera (east side, 4th column from south corner)

A long-standing theory holds that the columns were only gradually replaced with stone ones due to the wood rotting out, and other natural and man-made events.[4] In the second century AD, one of the two columns in the opisthodomos was still oak.[5] As the replacements took place at widely differing periods between the Archaic and Roman periods, and were carved under the influence of their respective contemporary styles, they differ considerably in proportions and detail. This becomes apparent in the columns' capitals, as each one is slightly different to the next. Another theory holds that the columns are so different, not because wooden columns were being replaced, but because various workshops erected different stone columns at the same time.[6] Perhaps each style represented the major city-states or private donors for whom these builders were working for, seeing as Olympia was a pan-Doric sanctuary. No remains of the entablature above the columns were found, but are believed to have been wooden.

Walls and roof

The walls had a bottom course of stone with a mudbrick superstructure, another feature typical of early Greek architecture. Other parts of the temple were made from limestone, unbaked bricks, and terracotta tiles. Holes in the protrusions at the ends of the walls—antae—indicate that a wooden cladding protected them from the elements. The temple had a Laconian-style roof; its pediments were decorated with disk acroteria of 2.5 m (8.2 ft) diameter, each made in one single piece (one is on display at the Archaeological Museum of Olympia).


The opisthodomos was also used to store numerous other objects, including many further statues of deities and votive offerings of Zeus and Hera.[7] Among the few of these objects to survive was a statue of Hermes holding baby Dionysos, which is generally identified as the Hermes of Praxiteles, one of the most important preserved examples of Greek sculpture.

Pausanias also witnessed a small ivory-clad couch (purportedly once belonging to Hippodameia), the bronze disc of Iphitus of Elis (commemorating the truce that according to legend founded the Olympic games), and the table on which the olive wreaths for the victors were displayed during the Olympic Games.

Pausanias recounts a number of objects beside the cult statues:

"In the temple of Hera [at Olympia] is an image of Zeus, and the image of Hera is sitting on a throne with Zeus standing by her, bearded and with a helmet on his head. They are crude works of art. The figures of Horai (Seasons) next to them, seated upon thrones, were made by the Aeginetan Smilis. Beside them stands an image of Themis, as being mother of the Horai. It is the work of Dorykleidas . . . The Hesperides, five in number, were made by Theokles . . . The Athena wearing a helmet and carrying a spear and shield is, it is said, a work of Medon . . . Then Kore (the Maid) and Demeter sit opposite each other, while Apollon and Artemis stand opposite each other. Here too have been dedicated Leto, Tykhe (Fortune), Dionysos and a winged Nike (Victory). I cannot say who the artists were, but these figures too are in my opinion very ancient. The figures I have enumerated are of ivory and gold, but at a later date other images were dedicated in the Heraion, including a marble Hermes carrying the baby Dionysos, a work of Praxiteles, and a bronze Aphrodite made by Kleon of Sikyon . . . A nude gilded child is seated before Aphrodite, a work fashioned by Boithos of Kalkhedon. There were also brought hither from what is called the Philippeon other images of gold and ivory, Eurydike the wife of Aridaios and Olympias the wife of Philip. There is also a chest made of cedar [the chest of Kypselos], with figures on it, some of ivory, some of gold, others carved out of the cedar-wood itself . . . There are here other offerings also : a couch of no great size and for the most part adorned with ivory; the quoit of Iphitos; a table on which are set out the crowns for the victors. The couch is said to have been a toy of Hippodameia. The quoit of Iphitos has inscribed upon it the truce which the Eleans proclaim at the Olympic festivals; the inscription is not written in a straight line, but the letters run in a circle round the quoit. The table is made of ivory and gold, and is the work of Kolotes . . . There are figures of Hera, Zeus, the Mother of the gods, Hermes, and Apollon with Artemis. Behind is the disposition of the games. On one side are Asklepios and Hygeia (Health), one of his daughters; Ares too and Agon (Contest) by his side; on the other are Plouton, Dionysos, Persephone and Nymphai, one of them carrying a ball."[8]

The table of Colotes

The table was made with ivory and gold, and was sculpted by Colotes. It displayed the figures of Hera, Zeus, Rhea, Hermes, Apollo, and Artemis in front of the Games. On one side was Asclepius and his daughter Aceso, and Ares and the Olympian spirit of contest Agon. On the other were Pluto, Dionysos, Persephone and nymphs. The table bore the olive wreaths awarded to victors at the ancient Olympic Games[5][9]

The Chest of Cypselus

The temple contained a cedarwood chest (Ancient Greek: κυψἐλη, romanizedkypsele) in which Cypselus, the tyrant of Corinth was reportedly hidden by his mother. The chest was reportedly dedicated at Olympia in gratitude to the gods,[5] and so, according to folktale, Cypselus gained his name.[10] According to Dio Chrysostom in the 1st century AD, the chest was found in the opisthodomos.[11] The chest had various mythological figures inscribed on it in ivory, gold, or in the wood of the chest itself. Accompanying many of the figures were inscriptions in Corinthian (Doric) indicating their identity, some of the text being written boustrophedon in alternating directions.[5]


Set apart from the temple at its eastern side is the Altar of Hera, where the Olympic flame has been lit since 1936 using a parabolic mirror to concentrate the rays of the sun.[12]

The temple was depicted on the reverse of the Greek 1000 drachmae banknote of 1987–2001.[13]

The Jasmine Hill Gardens at Wetumpka, Alabama (United States), contains a full-sized replica of the (ruined) Temple of Hera.[14]

See also


  1. ^ Darling, Janina K. (2004). Architecture of Greece. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 195–197. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  2. ^ The Olympic Flame and the Torch Relay (PDF), p. 4, retrieved 19 November 2015
  3. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 16. 1 - 8
  4. ^ "No artifact found". www.perseus.tufts.edu. Retrieved 2015-11-19.
  5. ^ a b c d Pausanias, Pausanias vol 5 (Description of Greece), translated by W. H. S. Jones, retrieved 20 November 2015
  6. ^ Sapirstein, Lobell. "A New View of the Birthplace of the Olympics - Archaeology Magazine". www.archaeology.org. Retrieved 2016-09-07.
  7. ^ "Temple Architecture - Boundless Open Textbook". Boundless. Retrieved 2015-11-19.
  8. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 17. 1 - 5 & 20. 1 - 3
  9. ^ Pollitt, J. J. (1990). The art of ancient Greece: sources and documents (New ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 220. ISBN 0-521-25368-3. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  10. ^ Fine, John Van Antwerp (1983). The Ancient Greeks: A Critical History. USA: Harvard University Press. p. 110. ISBN 0-674-03311-6. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  11. ^ Snodgrass, A.M. Alocock, Susan E.; Cherry, John F.; Elsner, Jas (eds.). Pausanias: Travel and Memory in Ancient Greece. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  12. ^ The Olympic Flame and the Torch Relay (PDF), p. 4, retrieved 19 November 2015
  13. ^ "Drachma". Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  14. ^ "Jasmine Hill on Alabama Garden Trail". Retrieved 3 January 2016.

Coordinates: 37°38′20″N 21°37′47″E / 37.63889°N 21.62972°E

1877 in archaeology

The year 1877 in archaeology involved some significant events.

2012 Summer Olympics torch relay

The 2012 Summer Olympics torch relay was run from 19 May until 27 July, prior to the London 2012 Summer Olympics. The torch bearer selection process was announced on 18 May 2011.As well as touring the United Kingdom the schedule included the three crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, and also the Republic of Ireland.

Doric order

The Doric order was one of the three orders of ancient Greek and later Roman architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian. The Doric is most easily recognized by the simple circular capitals at the top of columns. Originating in the western Dorian region of Greece, it is the earliest and in its essence the simplest of the orders, though still with complex details in the entablature above.

The Greek Doric column was fluted or smooth-surfaced, and had no base, dropping straight into the stylobate or platform on which the temple or other building stood. The capital was a simple circular form, with some mouldings, under a square cushion that is very wide in early versions, but later more restrained. Above a plain architrave, the complexity comes in the frieze, where the two features originally unique to the Doric, the triglyph and guttae, are skeuomorphic memories of the beams and retaining pegs of the wooden constructions that preceded stone Doric temples. In stone they are purely ornamental.

The relatively uncommon Roman and Renaissance Doric retained these, and often introduced thin layers of moulding or further ornament, as well as often using plain columns. More often they used versions of the Tuscan order, elaborated for nationalistic reasons by Italian Renaissance writers, which is in effect a simplified Doric, with un-fluted columns and a simpler entablature with no triglyphs or guttae. The Doric order was much used in Greek Revival architecture from the 18th century onwards; often earlier Greek versions were used, with wider columns and no bases to them.

Since at least Vitruvius it has been customary for writers to associate the Doric with masculine virtues (the Ionic representing the feminine). It is also normally the cheapest of the orders to use. When the three orders are used one above the other, it is usual for the Doric to be at the bottom, with the Ionic and then the Corinthian above, and the Doric, as "strongest", is often used on the ground floor below another order in the storey above.

Greek drachma

Drachma (Greek: δραχμή Modern Greek: [ðraxˈmi], Ancient Greek: [drakʰmέː]; pl. drachmae or drachmas) was the currency used in Greece during several periods in its history:

An ancient Greek currency unit issued by many Greek city states during a period of ten centuries, from the Archaic period throughout the Classical period, the Hellenistic period up to the Roman period under Greek Imperial Coinage.

Three modern Greek currencies, the first introduced in 1832 and the last replaced by the euro in 2001 (at the rate of 340.75 drachma to the euro). The euro did not begin circulating until 2002 but the exchange rate was fixed on 19 June 2000, with legal introduction of the euro taking place in January 2002.It was also a small unit of weight.


Hera (; Greek: Ἥρᾱ, Hērā; Ἥρη, Hērē in Ionic and Homeric Greek) is the goddess of women, marriage, family, and childbirth in ancient Greek religion and myth, one of the Twelve Olympians and the sister-wife of Zeus. She is the daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. Hera rules over Mount Olympus as queen of the gods. A matronly figure, Hera served as both the patroness and protectress of married women, presiding over weddings and blessing marital unions. One of Hera's defining characteristics is her jealous and vengeful nature against Zeus' numerous lovers and illegitimate offspring, as well as the mortals who cross her.

Hera is commonly seen with the animals she considers sacred including the cow, lion and the peacock. Portrayed as majestic and solemn, often enthroned, and crowned with the polos (a high cylindrical crown worn by several of the Great Goddesses), Hera may hold a pomegranate in her hand, emblem of fertile blood and death and a substitute for the narcotic capsule of the opium poppy. Scholar of Greek mythology Walter Burkert writes in Greek Religion, "Nevertheless, there are memories of an earlier aniconic representation, as a pillar in Argos and as a plank in Samos."Her Roman counterpart is Juno.


A Heraion or Heraeum is a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Hera

Notable temples include:

Heraion of Samos, the most important of the sanctuaries dedicated to Hera

Heraion of Argos, near Nafplion in Argolis

Heraion of Perachora (Hera Akraia and Hera Limenia), near Corinth

Temple of Hera (Olympia)

Heraion of Metapontum, usually known as the Tavole Palatine, in Magna Graecia

Heraion at the mouth of the Sele, Paestum, Magna Graecia

Second Temple of Hera (Paestum), Paestum, Magna Graecia

Heraion of SelinunteHeraion may also refer to:

Heraion (Bithynia), an ancient Greek town in Bithynia, also known as Heraia

Heraion (Thrace), an ancient Greek city in Thrace, also known as Heraion Teichos

the sea-side village near the temple dedicated to Hera in Samos

Hermes and the Infant Dionysus

Hermes and the Infant Dionysus, also known as the Hermes of Praxiteles or the Hermes of Olympia is an ancient Greek sculpture of Hermes and the infant Dionysus discovered in 1877 in the ruins of the Temple of Hera, Olympia, in Greece. It is displayed at the Archaeological Museum of Olympia.

It is traditionally attributed to Praxiteles and dated to the 4th century BC, based on a remark by the 2nd century Greek traveller Pausanias, and has made a major contribution to the definition of Praxitelean style. Its attribution is, however, the object of fierce controversy among art historians.

The sculpture is unlikely to have been one of Praxiteles' famous works, as no ancient replicas of it have been identified. The documentary evidence associating the work with Praxiteles is based on a passing mention by the 2nd-century AD traveller Pausanias.

List of Ancient Greek temples

This list of ancient Greek temples covers temples built by the Hellenic people from the 6th century BC until the 2nd century AD on mainland Greece and in Hellenic towns in the Aegean Islands, Asia Minor, Sicily and Italy, wherever there were Greek colonies, and the establishment of Greek culture. Ancient Greek architecture was of very regular form, the construction being "post and lintel". There are three clearly defined styles: the Doric Order, found throughout Greece, Sicily and Italy; the Ionic Order, from Asia Minor, with examples in Greece; and the more ornate Corinthian Order, used initially only for interiors, becoming more widely used during the Hellenistic period from the 1st century BC onwards and used extensively by Roman architects.

Each ancient Greek temple was dedicated to a specific god within the pantheon and was used in part as a storehouse for votive offerings. Unlike a church, the interior space was not used as a meeting place, but held trophies and a large cult statue of the deity.

List of ancient Greek and Roman roofs

The list of ancient roofs comprises roof constructions from Greek and Roman architecture ordered by clear span. Most buildings in classical Greece were covered by traditional prop-and-lintel constructions, which often needed to include interior colonnades. In Sicily truss roofs presumably appeared as early as 550 BC. Their potential was fully realized in the Roman period which saw over 30 m wide trussed roofs spanning the rectangular spaces of monumental public buildings such as temples, basilicas, and later churches. Such spans were thrice as large as the widest prop-and-lintel roofs and only superseded by the largest Roman domes.


The Peloponnese () or Peloponnesus (; Greek: Πελοπόννησος, Peloponnisos [peloˈponisos]) is a peninsula and geographic region in southern Greece. It is connected to the central part of the country by the Isthmus of Corinth land bridge which separates the Gulf of Corinth from the Saronic Gulf. During the late Middle Ages and the Ottoman era, the peninsula was known as the Morea (Byzantine Greek: Μωρέας), a name still in colloquial use in its demotic form (Greek: Μωριάς).

The peninsula is divided among three administrative regions: most belongs to the Peloponnese region, with smaller parts belonging to the West Greece and Attica regions.

In 2016, Lonely Planet voted the Peloponnese the top spot of their Best in Europe list.


Samos (; Greek: Σάμος, Greek pronunciation: [ˈsamos]) is a Greek island in the eastern Aegean Sea, south of Chios, north of Patmos and the Dodecanese, and off the coast of Asia Minor, from which it is separated by the 1.6-kilometre (1.0 mi)-wide Mycale Strait. It is also a separate regional unit of the North Aegean region, and the only municipality of the regional unit.

In ancient times Samos was an especially rich and powerful city-state, particularly known for its vineyards and wine production. It is home to Pythagoreion and the Heraion of Samos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes the Eupalinian aqueduct, a marvel of ancient engineering. Samos is the birthplace of the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras, after whom the Pythagorean theorem is named, the philosopher Epicurus, and the astronomer Aristarchus of Samos, the first known individual to propose that the Earth revolves around the sun. Samian wine was well known in antiquity, and is still produced on the island.

The island was governed by the semi-autonomous Principality of Samos under Ottoman suzerainty from 1835 until it joined Greece in 1912.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.