Ancient Thera : Michelin's recommendations
Ancient Thera was founded in the 9C BC on a magnificent site high above the Aegean Sea. It was a sizeable city in Antiquity with 5 000 inhabitants and 700 cisterns and reached the height of its importance under the Egyptian Ptolemies (300-150 BC), who established a naval base there. Thera declined under the Romans and was abandoned in the 13C. The Téménos of Artemidoros is a sacred enclosure, which has retained its altar and some inscriptions engraved in the rock walls. There are unusual sculptures representing the lion of Apollo, the eagle of Zeus and the dolphin of Poseidon. The agora is divided into two parts: the first was overlooked by a temple to Dionysos at the top of a flight of steps, and the second by the Royal Portico, a Roman structure, of which the bases of the central colonnade can be seen. Behind the agora was a residential district. The Temple of Apollo consisted of a naós (sacred centre of the temple) and a prónaos (porch) preceded by a court flanked by two chambers. On the Terrace of the Ephebes, which dates from the 6C BC, young men doing their military service engaged in naked exercises and dances, the gymnopaidia; graffiti in their honour have been written on the rock walls. Below the terrace at the tip of the headland are traces of the gymnasium (2C BC) where the Ephebes lived overlooking a courtyard; in the north corner of the court was a shrine dedicated to Herakles and Hermes, who were venerated by the Ephebes. The baths, of which the foundations are visible, were built by the Romans.
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