The Heraion of Perachora

AR1The ruins of the famous sanctuary of Hera are to be found near the lighthouse on Cape Malagavi, to the north-west of Loutraki and beyond the village of Perachora amid its dense greenery. The Heraion of Perachora consists of two sections, that’s why, until recently, it was believed to be two separate sanctuaries: those of Hera Acraea (‘of the cape’) and Hera Limenia (‘of the harbour).

Recent research, however, has led archaeologists to the conclusion that there was only one sanctuary, dedicated to Hera Acraea-Limenia.

The cult seems to have established itself in the southern part of the sanctuary (that formerly held to be the sanctuary of Hera Acraea) during the Geometric period.

Around 800 BC, the first apsidal temple of Hera was built, but no trace of it has survived. In the sixth century BC, α new temple of Hera was constructed, further west. This was of a Doric order and had α rectangular layout measuring 10.30 meters on its short sides and 31 meters on the long sides. To the east was an altar, also oblong and ornamented with triglyphs. In the fourth century BC, eight Ionic columns were constructed around the altar; these supported a shelter, which protected the priests and the sacred flame from the strong winds that often blow in the area. A building which has come to light to the west of the Doric temple has been interpreted as an agora, whose functions would have been both commercial and religious.
At α distance of 200 m. from this section of the sanctuary is the other, originally identified as the sanctuary of Hera Limenia. This reading of the site, which originated with Professor Humfry Payne, was based on the discovery of a rectangular Archaic building which was believed to be the temple of Hera. Professor Tomlinson, who succeeded Payne, explored the site more systematically and interpreted the building as α dining room for pilgrims to the sanctuary. It would thus seem that the cult proper was practised in the south part of the site, by the harbour, while the area around the dining room contained the service facilities for visitors.

Between the two parts of the sanctuary was α sacred pool used as α rainwater tank. This had become silted up as early as the fourth century BC and during excavations some 200-glass bottles ­connected with the sacred rites – were found in the landfill. Not far away was a water tank with apsidal short sides and a row of piers down the center on which the roof would have been supported. The building is tightly waterproofed and is an interesting example of the way in which water was collected and stored in the fourth century BC