the temple before it was enclosed in a tent

the temple enclosed in a tent
for a 20-year long preservation and restoration project


Drawing of the Temple by Charles R. Cockerell, ca. 1812

Watercolor of the Temple by John Foster, ca. 1812

Photo by D. Harisiades, 1936

Plan of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios

1 = opisthodomos
2 = adyton
3 = naos
4 = pronaos

  • Pausanias says temple was dedicated to Apollo Epikourios (healer/savior) for preserving the population from a plague in 430 B. C.

  • built 420 - 400 B. C.

  • designed by Iktinos (according to Pausanias), who also designed the Parthenon and the Hephaestion in the Athenian Agora

  • made of grey Arcadian limestone except for the frieze, which was marble
    • most of the frieze is now in British Museum–depicts Greeks fighting Amazons and Lapiths battling Centaurs
    • some is in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens

  • not very large–125.5 ft by 47.5 ft
  • aligned north-south rather than the customary east-west

    • perhaps because Apollo was said to return each summer from the Hyperboreans in the North

  • entrance was on north side (no. 4 in the plan above); there was also a door on the east side
    • reason unknown; to allow worshipers to face east? to admit light?

  • has 15 columns along the sides and 6 columns at the ends
    • earlier classical pattern was that the sides had twice as many columns as the ends plus one
      • e. g., six columns on the ends would result in 13 columns on the sides [(6 x 2) + 1]

  • has elements of Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian styles
    • an unusual combination
    • Doric columns for the peristyle, Ionic columns for the porch, Corinthian columns in the interior
      • Corinthian columns of this temple are earliest known example of this style
      • but they have been destroyed/lost and survive only in drawings made before the invention of the camera

  • remote location has aided in preservation

  • not torn down or converted to a Christian church

  • in November 1765, French architect J. Bocher stumbled onto the temple
    • he recognized what it was from Pausanias’ description
    • when he returned later, he was killed by bandits

  • excavated in 1811 - 1812 by a team of northern Europeans including the following individuals:
    • Charles Cockerell
    • Karl Haller
    • James Linkh
    • John Foster
    • Thomas Leigh
    • Otto von Stackelberg
    • George Christian Gropius

  • at an auction in Zante (Zakynthos) in 1815, the British Museum purchased most of the frieze for a reported sum of £19,000

  • eight fragments are in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens

Room 16 of the British Museum with the frieze of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios

Detail of Frieze (battle of Lapths and Centaurs) from the Temple of Apollo Epikourios
(now in the British Museum)

Detail of Metope from the Temple of Apollo Epikourios
(now in the British Museum)


  • in 1903, two small temples were discovered in a vale on the peak of Mt. Kotylion
    • about 328 ft. above the Temple of Apollo Epikourios, to the northwest
    • a steep path leads to these temples
    • perhaps to Aphrodite of Kotylion and Artemis Orthasia