Even though it was never finished, The Temple of Apollo, whose ruins are situated in the domain of the Ancient City of Miletus (now known as Didim), was an incredibly important & imposing structure which has stood for almost 2,300 years, and originally served as the Oracle Centre for both Ephesus and Priene.
Built around a sacred Spring & Laurel Tree which formed the centre of the sanctuary for almost 1000 years, the temple was first built around 700BC before being re-built in the middle of the 6th century to allow for the diversion of the Spring and to house the new Cult Statue to Apollo himself. Unfortunately though, after the Ionians lost to the Persians in 494BC, most of the buildings were damaged, and the temple had to be built again with planning starting in 334 BC. It’s the ruins of this third temple that we can still see today.
Promising to build one of the best Temples ever made it was clearly planned according to ritual requirements, with it’s crepidoma measuring almost 60x120m, it’s stylobate measuring 51x109m and the iconic 124 columns surrounding the interior buildings each measuring 19,70m high. Thousands of people from all over the area would come here to attend the ceremonies, make sacrifices to Apollo and consult the Oracle on major undertakings and prophecies.
First discovered between 1906 and 1913, the temple was completely unearthed and partially re-erected and as the many years have gone by more and more of the sacred site has been discovered and painstakingly excavated it’s now been decided that some of the columns should be restored to their former glory, enabling them to stand for another 2300 years. Helga Bumke who has been excavating the site for the last 12 years is more than excited by the prospect and though it will take time for them to fully done, work on the first three columns has been scheduled for later on this year.
As well as the ruins of the temple structure there’s also a number of statues that have been uncovered, one of which is the face of Medusa – an important figure of the Underworld in Greek Mythology. She had the ability to turn anyone who saw her face into stone, and being the only one of the three siblings who was considered mortal, she was frequently used at large structures and sacred areas.
Currently the Temple attracts around 100,000 visitors per year and is considered one of the most important tourist destinations of Turkey.