Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates Archaeological Site

The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates is an archaeological site that's located west of the Kourion Archaeological Site within the Limassol district of Cyprus.
 

From the 8th century BC until the 4th century AD, this ancient site was active, as well as dedicated to Apollo.  According to tradition, the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates used to be one of the main religious centers of Cyprus where Apollo was worshiped as god of the woodlands.

The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates has been altered throughout various time periods, and most of the current archaeological ruins date back to the first century restorations.  The first phase is the Archaic Sanctuary, which dates back to the 7th century BC.  The second phase is the Ptolemaic Sanctuary, which dates back to the 3rd century BC.  The third phase is the Roman Sanctuary, which dates back to the 1st century AD.

During the Roman period, there was the largest constructive activity, particularly the Temple of Apollo, the sacred street, palaestra, baths, etc.  However, this site also flourished during the Classical and Hellenistic periods.
 

The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates was destroyed by an earthquake about 365.  Later, this ancient site was reoccupied and the collapsed building were restored.  However, it was then abandoned in the 4th century.

Today, most of the ancient ruins date back to the 1st century AD restorations.

Within the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates Archaeological Site, some of the ancient ruins include the Temple of Apollo Hylates, Sacred Street, East Complex (Hellenistic Portico and the Priest's House), Public Baths, Circular Sacred Building, Kourion Gate, Paphos Gate, Dormitories, Porticoes, and Palaestra.
 

 
The Temple of Apollo Hylates is situated at the end of the Sacred Street.  With two main architectural phases, this Roman temple was originally built during the end of the Classical period or during the early Hellenistic period in a rectangular shaped structure.  However, the temple was rebuilt during the Roman period with a revised staircase and other architectural features.  The Temple of Apollo is considered one of the most important ancient sanctuaries on the island.

According to a sign at the Temple of Apollo Hylates site, "During the first phase of this program dating to Emperor Augustus, a simple rectangular building with a cella [the inner area of an ancient temple] and a vestibule was constructed without columns and was possibly unfinished.  The temple was reconstructed on a stepped platform in the time of Emperor Trajan (98-117 AD) as a small tetrastyle prostyle [a portico with four columns] temple with a cella and vestibule in antis, and unfluted calcareous columns with capitals of the Nabatean style, known also as Cypro-Corinthian.  The present form is the result of a partial reconstruction of the year 1980."



The Sacred Street leads from the Temple of Apollo towards the other ancient buildings.  The paving of this street occurred around the time of the Emperor Trajan, around the end of the 1st century and beginning of the 2nd century AD.
 

Along the Sacred Street, there's the Hellenistic Portico and the Priest's House, which are collectively known as the East Complex.  The Porticoes, which were originally covered walkways, were built before the 3rd century BC, while the Priest's House was build thoughout the 3rd century BC.

However, according to a sign at the East Complex site, "The whole complex was remodeled in the 1st century AD, probably by the emperor, Augustus."
 


The ancient ruins of the Public Baths are situated further away from the Temple of Apollo and the Sacred Street.  This bathing complex was built in 101 and 102 AD. 

According to a sign at the Public Baths site, "The arrangement of the interior is typical to a small public bath complex with a main entrance leading to a courtyard connected with rooms for derobing, and rooms of varying temperatures, such as frigidarium (cold), tepidarium (slightly warm), sudatorium (distinctly warm), and caldarium (very warm) on the ground floor, as well as the praefurnium and hypocausts [ancient Roman heating system] below." 

 

On the other side of the Sacred Street, there's the Circular Sacred Building (also known as the Archaic Circular Altar), which was dedicated to Apollo Hylates.

According to a sign at the Circular Sacred Building site, "The altar was composed of rubble set in mud and was roughly circular in shape.  The area within and all around the altar was filled with an enormous quantity of ash and the charred bones of sacrificed sheep and goats.  Numerous small terracota votive offerings were found in and around the altar....  There was an abundance of Cypro-Archaic pottery datable to about 600 BC, but one fragmentary vessel of Red Polished I ware (2300-2200 BC) indicates the earliest possible use of the site." 

This ancient site was utilized even after the 1st century AD.  According to another sign at the Circular Sacred Building site, "This area contained a circular corridor with a plastered surface surrounded by a thick retaining wall resting on shallow foundations.  The open air nucleus of this structure contained six pits interpreted as indicative of a sacred garden related to the cult of Hylates, the woodland God."
 




There's a wall surrounding the site with the Kourion Gate and Paphos Gate serving as entrances from both sides into the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates.  The wall and gates date back to the 1st century AD.

The Dormitories (also known as the Northwest Building) are situated between between the Kourion Gate and Paphos Gate.  This ancient site was built in the 1st century AD.

According to a sign at the Dormitories site, "A longitudinal structure with a stepped entrance to the south.  The central colonnade divided its interior into aisles, the lateral sides which comprised benches in between the columns.  This structure as well as the structure to the south may be identified as a dormitory for pilgrims....  Ruins of earlier structures dating to the Late Classical period (4th and 3rd centuries BC) were excavated below the east part of its foundations."

The Porticoes, which were originally covered walkways, are situated near the Dormitories.  These were built in the 3rd and 4th centuries, during the Hellenistic period. 
 

The Palaestra, which was most likely a gymnasium or training facility, is located closer toward the Kourion Gate, near the Dormitories.  The Palaestra was built around the 1st century AD, and it's considered that athletes once exercised and played games at this ancient site.

According to a sign at the Palaestra site, it's "a monumental building with a propylon (monumental colonnaded entrance), a peristyle atrium (courtyard), and a series of rooms facing the three sides of the peristyle courtyard."

The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates seems like as small archaeological site at first glance, yet this site features an extensive amount of ancient ruins.  It's a delightful archaeological site to visit, especially since the ancient ruins are situated in a central area. 


Site: Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates Archaeological Site. 

Category: Archaeological Site. 

Location: About 3 km west of the Kourion Archaeological Site, within the Limassol district of Cyprus. 

Phone Number: 25991049. 

Operating Hours: 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM on Monday to Sunday, during winter months.  8:30 AM to 7:30 PM on Monday to Sunday, during summer months. 

Entrance Fee: €2,50. 

Date of Visit: 2010 and 2013.

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