Temple of Aphrodite

The Temple of Aphrodite was located in the northern section and formed the centre of the city. All that remains of the ancient temple consists of fourteen of the over forty Ionic columns that once surrounded it and the foundations of the cellar section. Although the cult centre dates back to earlier times the temple whose remains we see today had begun to be built in the 1st century B.C. and is thought to have been completed during the reign of Augustus. 

The temenos (temple precinct) was completed in the 2nd century during the reign of Hadrian. The building would appear to have been what is known as an octastyle temple with thirteen columns on each side and eight columns at front and rear. On some of the columns are inscribed the names of the donors who presented them to the temple. 

The discovery of several mosaic fragments belonging to the Hellenistic period indicate the existence of an older temple on the same site, but with the conversion of the temple to a church in the 5th century all traces of the older building were erased. At the same time, the walls of the cellar containing the cult statues were removed and the building enlarged by moving the side columns outwards. Walls were added at the front and rear of the building to form an apse and nave. An apse and an atrium were added on the east and west.

No cult statue was found in the cellar but in 1962 a statue was found immediately outside it bearing all the characteristics of a cult statue and in the museum now. The goddess is wearing a long garment. One of the arms is stretched forward. The reliefs carved on the bands of the garment are very interesting. The sun god and moon goddess, the Three Graces with Aphrodite in the middle, Aphrodite and three Cupids seated on a goat with the tail of a fish are all symbols which frequently appear on various copies of the cult statue.

Temple of Aphrodite