On the bare rocky slopes of Mount Kotilio stands one of the most important and imposing temples of antiquity, dedicated to Apollo Epikourios (“Apollo the Helper”).. The temple is situated in a prominent position and is on the U.N.E.S.C.O. list of World Cultural Heritage sites along with the Egyptian Pyramids, the Parthenon and other monuments worldwide.
The temple was dedicated to Apollo Epikourios by the inhabitants of Figalia because they overcame a plague epidemic. The inhabitants of Figalia had erected a temple in honour of Apollo Vassita in the 7th century B.C., and worshipped him with the name Epicure supporter in war or illness. He was given the name Epicurean during the wars against the Spartans around 650 B.C. The final Temple was built during the second half of the 5th century BC (420-410) by Iktino who was also the architect of the Parthenon and for this reason is sometimes referred to as the Parthenons Twin.
The construction managed to combine many iconographic characteristics that showed the conservative religious tradition of the Acadians embracing the new features of the classical era. Characterised by a multitude of both original outer and internal fittings which make it a unique monument in the history of ancient Greek architecture. Is has a Doric pavilion from local limestone. The columns combine the harmony of all the known styles of antiquity (Ionic, Corinthian, Doric) and the frieze of the temple is a real masterpiece, with plain metopes and triglyphs (part of which was broken up in 1814 and is now exhibited at the British Museum in London) is the work of the sculptor of antiquity, Alkamenes
The Temple of Apollo Epikourios is one of the best surviving monuments of classical antiquity. In particular, it is the best preserved after the Temple of Hephaestus’s in Athens. Of all the temples in the Peloponnese, after the Temple of Tegea, it could take first place for the quality of its marble and its harmonious ensemble.
The temple has been preserved since the beginning of the century by the department of Archaeology. Since 1965, and systematically since 1982, the Ministry of culture has taken on the difficult task of maintenance and protection of the monument. The canopy, which protects the sensitive building materials from the extreme weather conditions in the region, the anti-seismic scaffolding and other facilities are intended to be temporary but will stay in place as long as required by the rescue work.
The imposing temple measuring 2,075m lies in the centre of the Peloponnese, in the mountains between Ilia, Messinia and Arkadia. Situated 14 km south of Andritsena and 11 km northeast of Perivolia. The archaeological area of the temple can be easily reached:
-From the provincial road that connects Kalamata with Diavolitsi (after Diavolitsi you come to the village Kato Melpia, where signs show that the temple is a further 40km. Following a captivating journey you are directed to the village of Sklirou near the temple.)
-From Megalopoli travel via Karytainas, and
-From Ilias via Krestena.