Temple of Athena Alea of Tegea

Temple of Athena Alea of Tegea

The temple of Athena Alea is the second largest in the Peloponnese after the temple of Zeus at Olympia. Its significance for the entire ancient world was huge. The sanctuary was built in the 4th century BC, but excavations showed that there had been, in the same place, a great Mycenaean sanctuary, again dedicated to a female deity. The most ancient temple must have been destroyed by a fire in 395 BC.

The newer beautiful church is the work of the great Parian sculptor Scopas. For its construction marble from Doliana was used and for the foundations, indigenous stone. Skopas combined the three major architectural orders of antiquity, Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. The church was a great sacrosanct, inaccessible to the uninitiated and protected by a sacred grove.

It is one of the temples that encapsulated the new religious practices of the times. Thus the altar of primeval blood sacrifice is in the distance and the bloodless altar dominates. The church was decorated with tremendous statues of Athena and Asclepius and Hygeia as well as many other gods and heroes. Also housed in the sanctuary was the skin and teeth of the legendary Calydon boar. Pausanias tells us that at the sight of these relics many of the pilgrims were overtaken by inexplicable seizures.

This legend along with the presence of the statues of Asclepius and Hygeia lead us to the conclusion that the church must have also served as a sanatorium.

The distance from Tripoli is 10 km.


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