Gyroulas Demeter sanct. (Naxos) Sagri

Demeter/Gyroulas, Archaic to Late Antique sanctuary, probably of Demeter, thoroughly restored, with site museum, near Sagri, Naxos Cyclades
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Latitude: 37.029100
Longitude: 25.431300
Confidence: High

Place ID: 370254SGyr
Time period: AL
Region: Cyclades
Country: Greece
Department: Naxos
Mod: Sagri

- Pleiades
- IDAI gazetteer ID

Modern Description: A short distance north and west of Lathrina, the Temple of Demeter at Gyroulas (17.5km) comes into view. The site can equally well be reached directly (15.5km) from Ano Sangrí. The temple has been put immaculately in order in recent times, with substantial elements reconstructed, and a small museum created on the site (open daily except Mon 8.30–3). It stands on an eminence surveying an open fertile valley, framed by the mountains to the east and the distant sea to the south. Cult on this hill goes back at least to the 8th century BC, when deities of the fertility of the land were propitiated in the open air in the area under, and in front of, the existing temple. The excavations have revealed interconnected shallow cultic pits in this area for the offering of the produce of the land to the deities. Around 530 BC, during the period of the rule of Lygdamis and of the building of the Portara, a temple was erected here which had the plan of a ‘thesmophoreion', i.e a place of cult of the chthonic divinities of the land and its fertility: this is the Temple of Demeter whose remains are most visible today. It was constructed entirely in marble: even the beams and tiles which comprised the roof were of local stone. This was a courageous innovation, involving newly developed technologies; but it had been attempted before by the Naxiots, most notably in their Oikos in the Sanctuary of Apollo on Delos. The temple was also ground-breaking in other aspects of design. It had a south facing portico or pronaos, with five columns in antis. Two large framed doorways led from this porch into the enclosed interior whose pitched marble roof was supported by a transverse row of columns whose heights varied with the slopes of the roof. To the west side of the site a magnificent example of one of the marble beams of the pronaos is preserved. Beams such as this supported the horizontal coffered ceiling which covered the pronaos. The interior of the building, by contrast, had no flat ceiling below its pitched roof. This gave rise to an elating sensation of increased height and space as you passed from the porch to the interior of the temple. The roof-tiles were made in a marble chosen for its translucence, which must have transmitted a beautiful, subdued luminousness into the interior on sunny days. With the arrival of Christianity, the temple was converted into a church: this happened in two phases and involved reconfiguring the building to accommodate the different orientation required by a Christian place of worship. The portico to the south was filled up between the columns to create a lateral narthex. A doorway was made in the west wall; then in the 6th century an apse was created to the east.
The small museum below the temple to the west displays the decorative architectural elements and the smaller finds from the site in two rooms, reflecting the two periods of the building's history—Ancient and Early Christian. These include architectural elements, such as the marble tiles of the ancient temple and the carved templon screen of the church, and a small display of the votive offerings found.
Wikidata ID: Q16294969

Info: McGilchrist's Greek Islands

(From McGilchrist’s Greek Islands, © Nigel McGilchrist 2010, excerpted with his gracious permission. Click for the books)

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