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Hera ‘s Temple

Posted On 05 Jan 2016
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At the river mouth of Imvrassos, near the homonymous seaside village, the archaeological site of Hereon is situated, where the temple of the goddess Hera was built. It is said that this is the place where the goddess was born and the holy marriage with Zeus took place. Her worship was carried here by the Ionians, but in this areas remnants of premises from the mid-3rd millennium B.C. were found. At the time it was built, it was the biggest temple of Greece and one of the biggest temples of ancient times, whereas the remnants of the archaeological site suggest life and worshiping of the goddess in the area from much earlier. The actual climax, though, seems to begin in the 8th century B.C. The buildings belong to the Ionic order and for more than two centuries they are increased in number and quantity, at the same time as Samos, which follows a climax course. A proof of the climax, though, is the remnants, which suggest the commercial and transactional relations with the countries of the east, Persia, Egypt, western Mediterranean and the wider Hellenic area. Therefore, we have in the 8th century the Ekatompedos Α’, a temple dedicated to the goddess, with a relatively small size and a single set of columns, in the 7th century we have the Ekatompedos Β’, which constitutes an expansion of the previous one, where, at the same time, the regional buildings are increased, together with the dedicative items, and in approximately 570 B.C. we have the temple of the architect Rikos, as well as other temples, such as the ones of Hermes and Aphrodite.

The Hereon of Samos constitutes one of the most important places of interest of the island. Do not forget to visit it and admire whatever has been left from these remarkable ancient times.

With the commercial and naval development, especially during the years of the tyrant Polykrates, the archaeological site changes form and is enrichened. In 530 B.C. the construction of the two-winged temple (two sets of columns) begins, which is the biggest temple ever built out of tufa and marble chapiters. It preserves the “sikos” (main temple) unaltered and the antetemple of the temple of Rikos, but now it has bigger dimensions (108.6m x 55.6m & 20m height), a total of 155 columns of various sizes and orders, whereas nowadays only one column is preserved (the area was also used to be called “kolona” (column), which of a height half of its original one. Historian archaeologists consider that the roof was never built, since the temple was never completed, due to the death of Polykrates, the Persian wars and the intervention of the Athenian Alliance. In the interior there was the hand-made wooden statue of the goddess, whereas the surrounding area looked like a small state, where there were buildings and many dedicative items. In the area in front of the entrance there was the grandiose altar of 550 B.C., of a height of three meters, buildings on the north and south side, tanks and a basis, where the ship of Koleos was situated, with a big copper boiler. The Iera Odos (Sacred Road), of a length of approximately five kilometers, joined the sacred area with the city and it was covered with plaques. On the left and right of the street, there were outstanding pieces of art, dedicative items, statues, male statues (kouros) and female status (kori), temples of other gods, such as of the goddess Rome and Isis, whereas in this route some of the most important findings were found, which are located in the museums of Samos, such as the oversized Kouros and the Constitution of Geneleo. Twice per year the Herea and the Tonea ceremonies take place, with various ceremonies, circumambulation of the statue of the goddess, sacrifices, gymnastics and music. After the falling course of the Samian state, the temple is abandoned, although during the Roman times additions are made. In the 2nd century A.D., the temple remains as it is and its treasures remain intact, but in the 3rd century many plunders are made. Lastly, in the 5th century the Christians build here a three-winged basilica. The excavations begun in 1902. The monument is recognized by UNESCO since 1992, it is protected by the NATURA 2000 program and approximately 100,000 visitors come here every year. Significant findings of the wider area are nowadays located in museums abroad (Louvre, Berlin etc.).

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