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Ancient Thira - Santorini

the eagle of zeusthe lion of apolloThe entrance gate leads to the miniscule chapel of Ag. Stefanos which is built over the ruins of the basilica of the 4th C AD of the Archangel Michael. 175 meters past is the Temenos of Artimedoros of Perge on the right. Perge was an admiral of the Ptolemy naval detachment stationed on the island. The Temenos has a black lava floor and the remains of an altar of Homonias with several reliefs depicting gods in their various manifestations: Zeus as an eagle (far left), Apollo as a lion (left), Poseidon as a dolphin and the medallion of Artimidoros. Continuing on, a narrow stepped road leads to the Garrison Barracks of the Ptolemies, the Gymnasium and Governer's Palace. To the north and behind is a small grotto consecrated to Christ and yet further along a votive niche of Demeter and Kore (her daughter Persephone) with a throne chiseled into the rock. Here is the opening of a cave called the Pitaros.

the hellenistic theater of ancient thiraThe main street continues to the Agora which was divided into two sections and in total varies between 16 and 30 meters in width. Its northern section held a row of shops and overlooks the broad wall or Platis Tiechos, an enclosure of unknown purpose but likely defensive. Beyond and to the right is the Altar of Ptolemy Philometer and the terrace of the Temple of Dionysus.

The southern section of the agora abuts the Royal Stoa which has an interior colonnade in the Doric style and rows of columns against the walls. In the time of Trajan its roof was restored and further alterations were made in 155 AD. Further up the hill are Hellenistic houses in block form with wall decorations one of which is a phallus with the inscription "to my friends". To the right of the Agora and further along are the Roman Baths which are well preserved and one may see the well, water conduits and a wood oven to heat the water. To the left are the remains of the Hellenistic theater (above). A path leads to the west where after the ruins of several Byzantine churches is the sanctuary of Egyptian deities with niches cut into the rock for the placement of statues or votive offering to Serapis, Anubis and Isis.

the cisternAs we continue down the slope along the sacred way we pass the small Temple of Ptolemy III and the column of Artemis until reaching the Temple of Apollo Karneios 6th C BC. The gate reveals a small court with a cistern. On the one side are 2 little rooms with walls and doors extant and on the other the paved Pronaos and the Cella.

Next comes the Terrace of the Festivals which overlooks the Roman Baths and has wonderful views of the island including Perissa beach.

This terrace was where were celebrated the most ancient of Dorian cults called the gymnopedia (nude children) in honor of Apollo Karneios. Engraved in the rocks are names of the gods, imprecations and names of favorite dancers with erotic innuendo.

the stoaAt the southernmost end of the city is the Gymnasium of the Epheboi with a large court yard and more graffiti and many shapes of feet. Adjacent to the court are a tholos and several rooms while in the north corner is the grotto of Hermes and Hercules and the the Gods of the Epheboi.

Open 09:30 to 16:00 fee. Hours subject to change.