Δευτέρα 19 Φεβρουαρίου 2024

The Terrace of the Lions, Delos, Greece

The island of Delos, recognized as the birthplace of the god Apollo, has been a sacred area used for various reasons throughout history. Today it is one of the most important archaeological sights in Greece and is covered in excavations, one of which is the famous Terrace of the Lions. This terrace was erected and dedicated to Apollo by the people of Naxos just before 600 BCE. The terrace consisted of a row of nine to twelve marble carved lions that faced eastward towards the Sacred Lake of Delos along the Sacred Way from Skardana Bay to the temples. 
The lions, with their mouths open as if roaring or snarling, were both meant to guard the sanctuaries and to inspire a feeling of divine fear among the worshippers. The way in which they were positioned is similar to the way sphinxes were set up along avenues in ancient Egypt. Today, only five of the original lions remain with remnants of three others and the headless body of another has been transported and put over the main gate of a Venetian arsenal

The Lions of Delos once graced the famous ‘Terrace of the Lions’ on the sacred island of Delos, Greece. The Terrace of the Lions was dedicated to Apollo by the people of Naxos shortly before 600 BC.

It originally had nine to twelve squatting, snarling marble guardian lions along the Sacred Way. The lions create a grand monumental avenue similar to Egyptian avenues of sphinxes.

Today only seven of the original lions survived on Delos and can be found in the Archaeological Museum of Delos. One of the original lion statues was taken by the Venetians during the 17th century and was inserted over the main gate to the Venetian Arsenal in Venice.

The island of Delos, near Mykonos, is one of the most important mythological, historical, and archaeological sites in Greece. Delos was an ancient holy sanctuary, and Greek mythology made it the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis.

The Lions, which had their mouths wide open as if roaring, were initially facing east towards the Sacred Lake of Delos where it was believed Apollo had been born.

The lions symbolically guarded the site and inspired pilgrims on their way to Apollo’s shrine. At the original site, today are five marble replicas lion statues. The original sculptures are preserved and protected in the museum after 2,500 years of exposure to the elements.

The lions were excavated and rediscovered between 1886 and 1906 and were secured in their original position.
The guardian Lions dedicated by the Naxians to the Sanctuary of Apollo (probably around end of 7th century or according to Boardman 575-550 BC). Delos was the birthplace of Apollo. The number of lions is estimated to be between 9-16. They were according to a description with their mouths open and (silent) roaring set to inspire a divine fear to the worshipers. The lions were found between 1886 and 1906. Only in 1999 the lions were moved in a museum after the wind and sea water for almost 100 years damaged the surface of the sculptures.
In 1999 were the originals moved indoors into a museum after the wind and seawater had damage the sculptures for centuries. 

Archaeological Museum of Delos