Temple of Apollo Didim
DidymaDidyma (also known as Didymaion) means “twin” and refers to Apollo and Artemis, the twins born to Zeus and Leto, (the Temple of Artemis was in nearby Miletus). Didymaion has a long history and Pausanias (160 AD) stated it was built before the Greek colonisation in the 10th century BC and some parts date back to 2nd millennium BC although fragments of the temple found so far dated back to the 8th century BC.
Temple of ApolloThe original temple was destroyed in 494 BC by Darius I of Persia who stole its vast treasury and removed the statues.
Annual spring festivals would take place here and pilgrims would walk 20km along the Sacred Way to participate and would seek answers about their futures from the temple oracles. After advice was given by an oracle to Emperor Diocletian to start persecuting the Christian church, Constantine the Great, who had converted to Christianity, closed the temple and killed the priests.
A Christian basilica was added by Emperor Theodosius in the 5th century and the church and much of the temple stood until the 15th century when it was reduced to rubble from and an earthquake. Excavations carried out in 1905 and 1930 revealed the incomplete Hellenistic temple and carved stone work from the earlier temple and statues.
The Design of the TempleThe Temple’s design took inspiration from the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus and the Temple of Hera on Samos, work of the renowned architects Paionius of Ephesus and Daphnis of Miletus. There were 122 Ionic columns around the temple but only 3 remain intact today. The columns date from 2nd century BC, are over 18m high and have a base of 18m in diameter where beautiful carvings were engraved. The total height of the temple was 27.43m and was accessed via 14 stairs. The roofed chamber (cella) has two Ionic columns that support the roof, opens on the north and south sides to two small chambers with staircases believed to have lead onto a terrace. At the western end of the cella there are three doors leading to a vast staircase that gave access to the adyton where only priests and oracles were permitted. The adyton has a small chapel (naiskos) and is where the sacred spring was and where the priestess of Apollo would utter her oracles.
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