What is a Greek temple?
Religion was a pervasive presence in the ancient Greek world. From the rites performed by private individuals in the oikos to the grand state ceremonies such as the Panathenaea, performed once every four years, it was an essential feature in the daily lives of citizens, metics, and slaves.
The central focus of state religious practices was the Greek temple. This easily recognizable structure invariably followed a regular pattern of construction: oblong in shape, with pillars running along front and sides (peristyle/peripteral), and a triangulated roof. The temple itself was normally situated within a larger temenos (a sanctuary). The sanctuary could consist simply of a larger walled enclosure to shut off a sacred precinct around the temple and its sacrificial altar or, as at the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, it could include a number of other buildings. These included treasuries to store votive objects given by nations and individuals, workshops for the production of sacred objects, a theater, a stadium, and other buildings relevant to the rites and festivals in honor of the god.
Typically, temples were built on high ground. Obvious examples include the temples on the Acropolis at Athens or the Temple of Aphaia at Aegina.
Why do you think Greek temples were built on high ground? [Answer]
What was the function of a Greek temple? [Answer]
Why study Greek temples?
The study of Greek temples illuminate religious practices within the Greek polis and the interaction of such religious practices with the political, economic, and cultural life of the polis. For the art historian these monuments give insights into the development of Greek architecture and sculpture. Temple decorations also give valuable information about prevailing beliefs, values, and ideologies in individual Greek communities.