Bassae Travel Guide

  • The Temple of Apollo Epikourios in Bassae
    The Temple of Apollo Epikourios in...
    by JLBG
  • Fresh spring
    Fresh spring
    by JLBG
  • Fresh spring
    Fresh spring
    by JLBG

Bassae Things to Do

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    by JLBG Written Jun 4, 2008

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    The temple was accidentally discovered in 1765 by the French architect Joachim Bolcher. The temple was decorated with a splendid marble sculpted frise depicting the battles between the Amazons and the Centaurs. In 1811, the British architect Charles Robert Cockerell removed the frise and sold it for 60,000 $ to the British Museum. Like the "Elgin Marbles" that were taken from the Parthenon, the marble friezes of Bassae are now in the British Museum in London.

    If you do not visit the British Museum, an excellent series of photos shows the whole Bassae’s frise

    A major conservation work is currently underway and the entire temple is sheltered by a large tent, which protects the structure from the sometimes severe weather during restoration. That is not good news for the photographers! Nevertheless, a visit to Bassae is a must. Let us dream that to end up the restoration of the temple, the frise will come back from London. This is a dream…

    I am sorry I have not taken more photos of the temple. I have found one on line that gives the general aspect of the temple

    Temple of Apollo Epikourios in Bassae
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    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology
    • Architecture

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    by JLBG Written Jun 4, 2008

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    The Temple of Apollo Epikourios is one of the largest and best-preserved temples in Greece. Pausanias, a Greek geographer from the 2nd AD wrote that the temple of Apollo Epikourios was built in the 5th century BC (from 420 to 400 BC) by Iktinos, the most famous architect, who also built the Parthenon. It had the oldest Corinthian capital ever found and remains notable for its unusual combination of the Corinthian, Ionic and Doric styles

    The temple remains largely intact, due in large part to its remote location but why was it built in such a remote location, which not long ago could only be reached after several hours of steep mountain walk remains a mystery.

    Pausanias writes that the villagers of Figalai built this temple in honor of Apollo the healer (Epikurios) who saved them from a plague epidemic. How the people of Figalia, a small village, were able to raise enough funds to build such a large monument (40 m x 16 m) and to hire such a prestigious architect as Iktinos remains another mystery.

    Temple of Apollo Epikourios in Bassae
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    • Architecture
    • Archeology
    • Historical Travel

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    by JLBG Written Jun 4, 2008

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    If you are in Olympia and want to visit Bassae, there are two choices.

    1) You can drive to Pirgos (17 km) and then drive southwards along the coast on E55 to Tholos (42 km). The first part is on main roads. What follows is on a small road. In Tholos, turn left to Lepreo, Kato Figalia, Merivolia. After 40 km, which, altogether makes 100 km from Olympia, you will finally reach Bassae.

    2) Alternatively, you can drive to Kréstena and Samiko where you will find the road described under 1). This will save 23 km but most of the route is on small roads.

    3) The shortest route is also the best in my opinion but it will not be easy to drive as the whole journey is on small road. From Olympia, drive to Kréstena, Kalithéa, Andritséna. After 64 km of narrow road with many sharp turnings, you will reach Bassae

    When I visited Temple of Apollo Epikourios, we arrived from route n°1. At that time (1978), the road from Tholos to Bassae was a rocky dirt road hardly available for regular cars. With our Land-Rover, that was fine. However, after 40 km of dirt road, to find such an amazing sight in the middle of nowhere was a real shock! Bassae was the ancient Greeks’ site that I fund the most extraordinary in the whole country.

    Temple of Apollo Epikourios
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology
    • Architecture

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Bassae Local Customs

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    by JLBG Written Jun 5, 2008

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    A few kilometers before Bassae, I found that this sheepfold was very scenic, on top of a hill, framed by a dozen of sharp cypresses. The sheep were grazing in the valley but the whole landscape looked very romantic, like a 19th century drawing!

    Sheep fold near Bassae
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    • Farm Stay
    • Architecture

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    by JLBG Written Jun 5, 2008

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    In various places in Greece (Evia, Oros Pilion, etc), we have spotted flat structures paved with stone. This one was obviously the best one. Though we have not seen it working, it seems that this one had been used recently : donkeys are standing near the area and thatch remaining from the threshing is still there. To bad we have not seen it working!! May be that was yesterday!

    Threshing floor
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    • Road Trip
    • Farm Stay

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    by JLBG Written Jun 5, 2008

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    Until some years ago, each small region in Europe had its own way of tighting straw and the shape of the truss of straw was so characteristic that it unable to tell where thy were from. This is not true anymore when the same machines are used almost everywhere, except in remote places where everything remains handmade; Look at this type of truss. They are not tight with ropes but with fibrous stems (second photo). Everything is local! Nothing has to be burrowed outside!

    Traditional truss of straw Traditional truss of straw
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    • Farm Stay
    • Eco-Tourism

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Bassae Favorites

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    by JLBG Written Jun 5, 2008

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    Favorite thing: When we visited Bassae, the site was desert. We had it for ourselves. There were no shops, no food, no water but half a kilometer away, this nice looking fountain with a spring that gave a marvelously fresh water! Under the hot sun of August, that was a blessing!

    Fresh spring Fresh spring
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    • Road Trip

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