Temple of Orthia

The most important archelogical site of sparta is the sanctuary of Arthemis orthia located at the entrance of the modern city, excavated during the years of 1906-1910. The sanctuary is located along the north bank of river Eurotas, and its history starts around the 10th century B.C. The sanctuary was build around 1100 B.C. During the 6th century B.C. and probably because of a flood, the sanctuary was destroyed , and a new and bigger one was build , very close to the its original location..The sanctuary was again rebuilt at the beginning of the 2nd Century A.C. The latest renovation took place during the 3rd century A.C. when the sanctuary and the altar were combined into a ampitheartical temple with a dimeter of 54 m, which was used until the destroyal of Sparta from Alarihos at 396 A.C.

At the sanctuary the ancient Spartans, used to perform dances wearing masks and the place used to be the center for the Agogi (the educational system for the young Spartans).

The most important monuments of the site are:

In the area of the sanctuary which is located in the ancient "demos" (district) of Limnes at Sparta, the excavations conducted by the British Archaeological School At Athens, at the beginning of the century, revealed remains of successive phases in the construction of the temple of Artemis Orthia. The last phase is dated to the Hellenistic period but interventions were also made in the temple , during the Roman period. East of the temple is preserved the big oblong altar which was made of stone slabs. South of these sacred places was founded a large horse-shoe shaped amphitheatre which is nowadays preserved in a quite good condition. This construction was used by worshippers and people attending the ceremonies and the games of youths, which were taking place at the area of the sanctuary. The clay masks which were found at the area are an indication of the orgiastic ceremonies. The marble stelai depicting sickles and the inscribed altars are connected with their donors. These were children which had successfully passed the test of whipping before they could enter the adolescents' teams.

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