In Ancient Greece, temples were the most important and widespread building. The purpose of these temples were primarily to be monuments to the gods, where religious statue or cult emblems are usually housed. Now many of these temples are in ruins but some remain as reminders of the beautiful architectural of the ancient world.
1. Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens
Known as the largest temple in Greece, but unfortunately only 16 of the once 104 grand column now remain of this gigantic temple. Construction of this temple began during the rule of the Athenian tyrants in the 6th century BC but was not completed until 638 years later during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD. The temple is located approximately 500 meters southeast of the Acropolis, in the center of Athens and is part of an important archaeological site, enclosed by Hadrian's Gate.
2. Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounio
The temple of Poseidon is located at the southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula in Greece and surrounded on three sides by the sea making it fitting for the God of the Sea. It was built over the ruins of another temple dating from the Archaic Period and now only some of the columns remain of the construction in approx. 440BC.
The name of this ancient Greek Temple is derived from a shrine dedicated to the Greek hero Erichthonius. Built between 421 and 407 BC by architect Mnesicles, this temple can be found on the northern side of the Acropolis of Athens. The temple is most famous for it's iconic southern porch which displays six sculpted female figures serving as architectural support.
4. Temple of Apollo Epicurius
One of the more remote temples in Greece, the Temple of Apollo Epicurius is hidden away on a mountain in Peloponnese near Bassae. But because of it's isolation the temple has stayed well preserved as it's one of the few temples that escaped being destroyed by war or reconverted into a Christian temple. As well as being remote the temple is also unusual in it's alignment of North to South as majority of Greek temples are aligned east to west. Currently the temple of Apollo Epicurius is covered in a tent in order to protect the ruins from the elements.
5. Temple of Hephaestus
This temple is the best-preserved Greek temple in the world but less known than it's more famous neighbors in Athens. The temple was built in the 5th century BC and was surrounded by many foundries and metalwork shops. These lend to the logical choice of the temple being dedicated to Hephaestus, god of metalworking and fire.
6. Temple of Aphaia, Aegina
The temple of Aphaia perched on top of a hill is unique in it is dedicated to the goddess Aphaea (or Aphaia) which is a deity almost exclusively worshipped on the island of Aegina. The temple was built in 480 BC, and today 25 of the original 32 Doric columns still remain. Though the goddess Aphaea was only a local deity associated with fertility and agriculture she quickly became identified with the goddess Athena under Athenian hegemony, and that is why some call it the temple of Athena Aphaia.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Greece and a visit to Athens is not complete without visiting this temple. The purpose of the Parthenon was to house a statue of Athena Parthenos made from ivory, silver and gold but sometime in the 5th century the statue was looted by one of the Roman Emperors. The Parthenon has gone through many changes over the years from it's constructions in 447 BC, replacing older temples that were destroyed by the Persians to serving as a fortress, a church, a mosque and as a powder magazine.
8. Tholos of Athena, Delphi
The Tholos of Athena is the first temple travellers who came by foot from the eastern road would come across as part of the famous Tholos of Delphi. It was constructed between 380 and 260 BC and comprises of Doric and Corinthian columns though only three of them remain fully intact today. Excavations have proved that at this spot may lay an older cult site, possibly dedicated to Gaia.
9. Temple of Hera, Olympia
The Temple of Hera was built in approximately 590 BC, but was destroyed by an earthquake in the early 4th century. As well as being dedicated to Hera, the queen of gods, the temple was also used to store items important to Greek culture as well as other offerings of the people, but today this is where the torch of the Olympic flame is lit every four years.
8. Temple of Apollo, Corinth
Halfway between Athens and Sparta, the ancient city of Corinth was once a powerful city state and was home to the Doric-style temple dedicated to Apollo. Though it is unknown when the temple was built, it is also clear that the temple has been remodeled over the years, and the temple which stands today is not architecturally identical to the one which was originally built.