Hiking to the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae

If you like hiking ancient and remote trails that lead to UNESCO monuments like the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae of Phigaleia, then you are going to love this part of Peloponnese Greece.

Epicurian Apollo Temple in the Peloponnese. Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae of Phigaleia
The Temple of Apollo Epicurius under the white cover

The Greek traveler Pausanias hiked in 174 CE to the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae of Phigaleia and was fascinated by the atmospheric Temple and the wilderness of the surrounding nature.

The Temple of Apollo Epicurius (“Apollo the Helper”) is in the western Peloponnese, 65 km from Ancient Olympia and 80 km from Ancient Messene and Kalamata. It was built on top of bare and rocky Kotilio Mt at 1130 meters.

Old painting of The Temple of Apollo Epicurius by Edward Dodwell. Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae of Phigaleia
The Temple of Apollo Epicurius by Edward Dodwell

Some even characterize the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae as the ‘Second Parthenon‘ because according to Pausanias, Iktinos, who was one of Parthenon’s architects, also designed Apollo Epicurius.

Evgenia at the Temple of Apollo Epicurius. Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae of Phigaleia.
My first visit to the Temple of Apollo

I first visited the Temple in 2010 and have hiked this magnificent, wild area three times since. It is a challenging and almost mystical experience to walk to one of the most important Temples of Classical Greece. Let’s find out together why is that!

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Brief Info on the Temple of Apollo Epicurius

  • Region: Bassae (Vasai), Figaleia (Prefecture of Ilia), 14 km far from Andritsena Village
  • Phone +30 26260 22275 (Contact the ticket office to confirm the operation of the site)
  • Hours 8 am-8 pm Easter – Oct, 8.30 am-3.30 pm Nov-Easter
  • Price adult/child €6/free – half price during off-season

Basic Explanation of Temple’s Keywords

The Temple of Apollo around 1900 with a shepherd and goats. Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae of Phigaleia.
The Temple circa 1900

Before we get further into why the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae is so significant and why you should visit it, let me clarify a few words:

  • Apollo, son of Zeus and Leto, was the Olympian god of music, truth, prophecy, healing diseases, the sun, and light.
  • Epicurius means supporting or helping and has nothing to do with the ancient Greek Epicurean Philosophers.
  • Phigaleia was a powerful ancient Greek city, 7 km from the area of Bassai where they built the Temple of Apollo Epicurius.

What is Significant about the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae

Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae under the protective tent. Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae of Phigaleia.
The protective cover around the Temple

The temple of Apollo Epicurius is the second best-preserved Temple of classical antiquity right after the temple of Hephaestus in Ancient Agora in Athens. The Phigaleians, dedicated the Temple to Apollo because he helped them (Apollo was an Epicurius) survive a plague.

Special Points of Interest for Temple of Apollo Epicurius

Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae. Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae of Phigaleia.
The Temple of Apollo under the cover
  • The Temple was built on Kotilio Mount at 1130 meters, a bare mountain with fierce winds in the winter, and underground prone to earthquakes.
  • It was built during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), fought between Athens and Sparta and their respective allies.
Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae of Phigaleia.
Temple of Apollo Epicurius
  • It is the only Temple that combines elements of the three architectural styles of antiquity (Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian) and aesthetic elements that remind of the large Apollo Temple in Delphi.
The internal of the Temple according to Cockerrel R. A. 1788 – 1863
  • Unlike most ancient Greek temples made of marble, this one is made of local limestone. Its 31-meter-long marble frieze depicted battles between Greeks and Amazons and between Lapiths and Centaurs. Sadly the slabs of this frieze were first revealed and then plundered by English architect and writer Charles Robert Cockerell in 1811-1812, and are now housed in the British Museum—an act reminiscent of the violent removal of the Parthenon Marbles by Elgin in the early 19th century.
  • The Temple’s dimensions are: 14.48×38.24m
Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae with visitors. Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae of Phigaleia.
Walking around the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae
  • UNESCO, taking into account its remarkable archaic features and unique artistic achievement, included the Temple of Bassae in its inscribed list in 1986. The temple is notable for having the most ancient conserved Corinthian capital in its central column and for its rural isolation in a preserved environment.”

In 1902 the Greek archaeologists Konstantinos Kourouniotis, Konstantinos Romaios, and Panagis Kavvadias discovered the exact position of the Temple and made extensive excavations in the area. Kourouniotis also contributed to the excavations in Eleusis (the main location of the Eleusinian Mysteries) in Athens.

Ruins around the Temple of Apollo with pathways. Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae of Phigaleia.
Ruins around the Temple with pathways

Since 1987 the Temple has been protected from extreme weather conditions with a special canopy, which will be removed after the completion of the necessary work.

Surrounding area of the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae of Phigaleia.
Surrounding area of the Apollo Temple

Besides the Temple of Apollo Epicurius, some pathways lead to various ruins in the surrounding archaeological site and 100 meters up from the Temple to the other 2 Temples of Artemis and Aphrodite.

Surrounding area of the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae of Phigaleia.
Surrounding area of the Apollo Temple
Sign with all the monuments of the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae of Phigaleia.
Sign with all the monuments of the Temple of Apollo

Hiking to the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae

Trail Mail of Dimitsana to Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae of Phigaleia.
Trail Map Dimitsana – Apollo
The landscape in the area of the Temple. Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae of Phigaleia.
The landscape in the area of the Temple

If you are visiting the Temple of Apollo Epicurius from Athens, then you should organize it as a 2-day trip minimum as it is a very long journey from Athens. The most convenient village to stay in is the beautiful mountainous Andritsena (or Andritsaina) village where the actual trail to the temple begins.

Trani Vrysi, the starting point of the hike in Andritsena.
Trani Vrysi, the starting point of the hike in Andritsena

The trail starts at the most famous fountain in Andritsena, the Trani Vrysi, built in 1724. You soon reach Andritsena’s main square with impressive plane trees, the farming area, and the small valleys that are around the village.

The mountain views while hiking
The mountain views while hiking

However, for me, the most thrilling part is that on the last kilometers to the Temple of Epicurean Apollo, you hike on the mountain ridge with a limitless view of the Peloponnese.

The total distance is 11.6 km, with moderate difficulty, and about 4,5 hours of hiking. There are signposts indicating the trail towards the Temple and is not recommended during summer, as it is too hot and you may get heatstroke.

The trail to the Temple with a single hiker by Paths of Greece
The trail to the Temple by Paths of Greece

It is better to have called a day or two the archaeological site in advance so that you make sure the site will be open to visiting at +30 26260 22275.

Where to Stay in Andritsena

Abeliona Retreat in Andritsena
Abeliona Retreat

Abeliona Retreat is in an amazing natural environment, with luxurious and traditional decorations that will make your trip to this side of the Peloponnese really unforgettable. Best touch: complementary tsipouro, walnuts, and preserved cherries in the room.

Evgenia in Andritsena back in 2010
Andritsena

A more budget option is Xenonas Myrto (self-catering), a small, beautifully decorated studio run by a private hostess in central traditional Andritsena.

Andritsena Main Square
Andritsena Main Square

Andritsena deserves a visit on its own. It is a very beautiful and traditional village with stone mansions, cobblestone alleys streets, a stone square with a wonderful view of the mountains of Arcadia, and the oldest fountain of the Peloponnese. It also has a very large Library and a few folklore museums that will offer insight into old Greece. Andritsena is an ideal destination all year round.

How to Get to Andritsena

The Temple is 240 km from Athens through a very mountainous area with many turns en route, at least the last foot of the journey. You can go to Andritsena by public bus, the KTEL (see info at the end of this post), but you have to find your own transportation to the Temple, as no buses go there.

Ideally, you hike there and have made arrangements with a taxi to pick you up or you can do all 22 km in one go (but not during the summer, as it is a wild area and way too hot).

The imressive Nemouta waterfalls entrance
Nemouta waterfalls

I always travel in my own car as it offers the freedom to explore an area in depth. Nearby are the stunning waterfalls of Neda, Nemouta waterfalls, and Ancient Olympia. However, you will need a rental car to get to all of those places.

Did you hike to the Temple of Apollo Epicurius? Let me know what you think about visiting Andritsena in the comments, I’d love to hear whether I managed to get it onto your bucket list! Till next time, Evgenia❤️

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About the author
Evgenia Mataragka
Hi! I am an Athens-based Greek obsessed with exploring Greece and bringing you the best travel experience ever!

2 thoughts on “Hiking to the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae”

  1. Dear Evgenia, my name is Viorel, I am from Romania, I am 67 years old and I come to Greece two or three times a year, I know your country well. In short, I love Greece. Your blog pleasantly surprised me with its honesty and accuracy. Congratulations!
    I have prepared a trip between June 11 and June 23. But I haven t chosen a destination yet. I have to choose between the southwest coast of Crete, with the Aradena Canyon, etc., or Anafi and Santorini (for the Arkesini site and Caldera) or Pavlopetri with Elafonisi island and Monemvasia. I think I ll still go to Anafi and Santorini (it s very hard to resist the Ciclades…) and two or three days in Pireus for Egaleo mountain and the Eleusis Archaeological site. But I have a very old desire, the temple of Apollo in Bassae, and on your blog I saw a very exciting approach to the temple from the village of Andritsena. I would hike from the village to the temple and return by taxi. I don t drive and therefore I can t rent a car. But please tell me how and from where to reach Andritsena with Ktel. It is not very clear on the Ktel Lakonias website. Of course I would get an accommodation in Andritsena and explore the area. Thank you very much!

    Reply
  2. Dear Viorel,

    Thank you so much for your kind words and I am very happy you enjoyed the temple of Apollo in Bassae! If you go to Egaleo Mt, do not forget to go to Daphni Monastery as well. Parnitha Mount is also very impressive but it is more of a forest. Eleusis is wonderful and I love going there. As for Andritsena, you can take the KTEL bus from Athens at Kifisos Avenue 40, all taxis in Athens know where that is. There is a bus every day leaving at 9.30 from Kifisos going to Tripoli where you will change buses to Andritsena with the same ticket. At around 14.00 you will be in Andritsena. If you need more info, you can send me an email here at info@travelthegreekway.com. Hope you enjoy Greece, Evgenia 🙂

    Reply

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