Temple of Poseidon at Taranto

The Temple of Poseidon, also known as the Doric Temple, is situated in the historic center of Taranto, Italy, in modern-day Piazza Castello.

Temple of Poseidon at Taranto

The Temple of Poseidon, also known as the Doric Temple, is situated in the historic center of Taranto, Italy, in modern-day Piazza Castello. As the oldest temple in Magna Graecia, it is the only Greek religious structure still visible in the old town of Taranto. The temple was built in the first quarter of the sixth century BC, but over time it fell into ruin, and parts of it were later used in the construction of other buildings. Unfortunately, the devastation and spoliation experienced by the temple over the centuries have made it impossible to outline an exact plan of the temple.

The temple is made up of two remaining columns of the Doric order and three drums of a third column base made of local carparo stone, taken from the city’s acropolis. These columns are located on the long side of the peristasis of the temple, and their remains have been identified in the choir and cellars of the Monastery of San Michele, which is near the ruins alongside the Palazzo di Città. The columns stand at 8.47 meters high with a diameter of 2.05 meters and are separated by an interval of 3.72 meters. It has been suggested that the temple’s front faced the navigable canal bridged by the Ponte di San Francesco di Paola and that it had six columns on the short sides and 13 on the long sides.

It is believed that the Doric peristyle is part of a phase of renovation and expansion after the construction of the cella since there are no structural connections between its foundations and those of the older nucleus. The presence of a little ditch next to the columns and traces at the edge of it suggests the existence of a pavement and a raised wooden platform belonging to an original cult building of rough bricks and perishable material built at the end of the 8th century BC by the original Spartan colonists.

The sacred area became a granary in the 6th century, and in the 10th century, the remains of the temple were converted into a Christian church. By the 14th century, part of the area was used for industrial activity. The ruins of the temple were incorporated into the Church of the Holy Trinity, the court of the Oratory of the Trinity, the Casa Mastronuzzi, and the Convent of the Celestines. In 1700, ten sections of columns were still visible, but they were removed and dispersed during the renovation of the convent in 1729. The archaeologist Luigi Viola investigated the remains of the temple at the end of the 19th century and attributed it to Poseidon, but it was more likely connected to the female divinities Artemis, Persephone, or Hera. Other remains were dispersed with the demolition of the convent in 1926 and the nearby church in 1973.

  • References

    image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Colonne_Doriche.JPG

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