This is the fifth of five short pieces about my recent visit to the island of Samos in the Aegean Islands. Samos is only about two miles from the Turkish coast but is definitely part of Greece. The picture was taken by me and is of the UNESCO World Heritage Site called The Heraion on Samos.
The main feature of the Heraion is the single column standing in what would originally have been a temple dedicated to Hera. Tradition has it that Hera was born and raised here, and for this reason her temple at the Heraion was the largest in antiquity, measuring 109 m in length, 55 m in width, and 25 m in height. What complicates matters is that this vast temple, known as the Polycrates Temple, was the third temple dedicated to Hera at this sight having been built in the later half of the sixth century BCE.
The previous temple, built by the architects Rhoikos and Theodoros between 570-550 BC and known as the Rhoikos Temple, was located forty metres away and was smaller than the Polycrates Temple. The Rhoikos temple was destroyed by an earthquake, but it still wasn’t the oldest temple dedicated to Hera at this sight. That honour goes to the Hekatompedos, built about 200 years before the Rhoikos Temple. The Hekatompedos was roughly 100 feet long and very narrow; it consisted of three walls and an interior central line of columns to support a roof.
When visiting the sight, it can be confusing to try and imagine where these temples stood in relation to one another, but this shouldn’t spoil a visit to this fascinating area.