Heraion of Argos is located between Argos and Mycenae, at the foot of the hill that was known as Aetovouno (Eagle’s Mountain) or Evoia. Tradition wants it to have been founded by the hero Argos or Foroneas, son of Inahos. It is considered to be the worship epicenter of Hera, and quite possibly one of the most ancient temples, with the unique oracle of the goddess in Greece, while it has been built upon three terraces at the southwest side of a hill, at the feet of mount Aetovouno that defines the eastern most side of the Argolic plain.
The Heraion of Argos throughout history
Its historic reference begins circa 9th century BC, when Corinth was under the political-religious influence of Argos. In 850 BC, the temple of Akraea Hera was built, where for one century, thousands of people would gather, seeking her protection. A little later, in the 8th century BC, the second temple of Limenia Hera (Hera of the harbors) is built, protector of men of sea and trade, while at the same time the oracle was founded. The temple then gained a unique shine and importance as the official religious center, exclusive to the city of Argos, while it was there where terrified Medea went to hide her children.
Its great festival was “Heraea”, that took place on the second year of each Olympiad and it was the most official festival of the Argeads, religious and national at the same time, with sacrifices, games with a copper shield as a trophy, with pageants and parades from young boys and girls and lastly, with carousals.
The peak of Heraion lasted as long as the independence of Corinth, that is until the 3rd century BC. During this period, the Market (“Agora”), the Arcade (“Stoa”), the Altar and the Temple of Limenia Hera were built, as well as water supply construction took place. In the end of 5th century BC, the first walls were built. In 146 BC, along with the devastation of Corinth by Romans, came the downfall of the temple.
Excavations at the Heraion
British archaeologist Humfry Peyne, discovered the archaeological site of Heraeo during 1930-1933, its excavation leading to the uncover of the temple of Apollon, near the citadel, the chamber of deputies, the baths, a hero’s monument from the roman period and a graveyard.
Today, there are a few ruins from the foundation of houses and temples, signs of a road that connected the temples to the city and the lake, yards, sections from the fortifications, lots of reservoirs, tunnels and trenches that collected the water from the mountain sides.