At the top of the Kotilon mountain, you will be greeted by a pleasant surprise, that will renew your Ancient Greek interest. It is the Temple of Epicure Apollo.
“And all of a sudden , in a turn of the mountain stands before you unexpectedly the renowned Temple of Apollo at Vasses , in the heart of the Peloponnese. Thus carved and set, these pillars of the Temple express the whole essence of the mountainous austerity and isolation. You think of it as the head of this landscape, the sacred, full of moats area, where your mind is sheltered and stays wide awake. It is as if it yearned for centuries within its dark bulk the whole mountain to express itself and as soon as it got this temple of Apollo, it felt relieved. It felt relieved, by that I mean it became meaningful its existence and it felt joy”.
That is how ,amongst others, the great Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis describes the temple that was built in 420 BC by Iktinos, the same architect who built the Parthenon as well.
The territory of Bassae is located between Arcadia, Triphylia and Messenia, on the western slopes of Mt. Kotilion near the ancient city of Phigaleia. The mountain is scored with ravines (vassai), which give the place its name. In this bare, rocky landscape, 1131 metres above sea level, the people of Phigaleia founded a sanctuary in honour of Apollo. A sacred road connected the sanctuary with the city, nearly thirteen kilometres away. The sanctuary was dominated by one of the most imposing monuments of ancient Greece: the temple of Apollo Epikourios, whose cult was established in the late eighth-early seventh century BC. The god was given the surname ‘epikourios’, either because he was thought to have helped the Phigaleians in their struggle against Sparta in 659 BC, or because he prevented the plague from spreading during the Peloponnesian War. Apollo is also named ‘vassitas’ in an inscription from this site.
(The above text is based on a guide book of the Archaeological Service.)
Today the Temple is covered by a shelter in order to be protected from weather conditions, and you thus get the chance to have, under other circumstances, an authentic and unique meeting with it.
Worth to search:
BASSAE (Vasses) 1964
Jean-Daniel Pollet, French director
Poetic documentary, with strong personal stamp, real originality and creativity. “Vasses” is the first film for the amazing temple of Epicurean Apollo. The temple presented «clean», without the subsequent scaffolding and shelters. Suggestive images, absence of God and people, music, A. Ntiamel.