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The most important temple of Sparta was built in the 6th century B.C., on the northwest of the acropolis, above the ancient theater. It was built over a shrine that dates to the geometric period. Because of the intense construction of the site since the late roman period, only a few ruins have been preserved. It is estimated, though, that the temple, which was built to host the statue of Athena, consisted only of a small part of the total edifice. The temple was covered with copper sheets hence the name Chalcioecus (brazen house). It was the most important temple of the town until the 4th century A.D. when it was overshadowed by the temple of Artemis Orthia.

The remains of the temple of Athena Chalcioecus or Poliouchos can be found on the concave of the Ancient Theater of Sparta, on the northwest side of the acropolis.

According to Pausanias, the construction of the temple had been commenced by Tyndareus but it was left uncompleted. The excavations indicated that the first construction phase of the temple dated to the geometric age. At that time there was a shrine with an altar. The Spartan Gitiadas, a poet, musician, architect and sculptor, built in the 6th century B.C. a small temple with a precinct for the statue of Athena Poliouchos. The temple was covered with copper sheets decorated with embossed depictions, hence the change of the goddess name from Polias to Chacioecus.

The temple’s excavation revealed only the south part of the precinct (25.2 meters long), as well as small parts of the respective west and east precincts. In the precinct of the shrine, used as a public event and sport contest venue, there were other edifices and a stoa (covered portico). A wall of an imposing edifice was revealed on the south side of the precinct attesting that the temple itself covered only a small part of the site. The temple of Athena was the most important temple of the town. It was unapproachable which is why Lycourgos and Pausanias turned to the temple to sought asylum.

In the Roman Era, the sanctuary was overshadowed by the Temple of Artemis Orthia. Houses were constructed there since the 4th century B.C. Because of the intense construction, only a few ruins have been preserved. The excavation near the south wall of the precinct brought to light parts of a Spartan warrior statue, renamed Leonidas. In the 10th century, a basilica and the monastery of Saint Nikon were built in the site.


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