Temple Of Artemis Tavropolion

The sixth century BC temple of Artemis at Nas was built by the Ikarians to honor the mother goddess Artemis, patroness of sailors and protector of hunters and wild animals. Nas was probably the first settled area of Ikaria and throughout antiquity its safe anchorage was an important staging point for sea traffic sailing to Asia Minor. Around 1830 local Ikarian villagers melted down most of the temple's stone blocks in order to build a church. Legend has it that the ancient temple's statue of Artemis is buried somewhere in the river. Snorkelling just off the coast one can see the massive columns of the temple. The pier of the ancient port and the floor of the sanctuary still survive as does the beautiful setting of Nas Beach.

Tavropolio was the shrine of Artemis who among other names was also called Tavropolos, goddess of the bull or Tavrovolos. The temple of Tavropolio must have been a late Minoan structure as the goddess was worshipped in the late Minoan period. The "Xsoanan" a carved wooden cult image of the goddess which is said to have been discovered by favor of the heavens proves that the shrine was one of the most ancient temples dedicated to the goddess Artemis.

Ikaria was one of the first stops of Artemis from Asia Minor and Tavropolio a shrine celebrated throughout Greece. Tavropolio prospered in the years when worship of the goddess was at its peak in the era of Attic civilization. According to the historian Ioannis Melas, Tavropolio was probably not only the temple of the goddess Artemis but also a settlement, one of the four ancient settlements on Ikaria, but no evidence has come to light to prove it. Today at the place of worship where magnificent religious rights were once performed, only ruins survive, parts of the floor and columns of the ancient temple. The whole area is studded with remnants of worn awat marbles. The remains of an old lime kiln reveal that in the early 19 Century the structures of Tavropolio were melted down to obtain building materials for the erection of churches.

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