Archaeological Sites

Acropolis of Lindos


Acropolis of Lindos

The history of the sanctuary seems to begin in the Geometric period, during the 9th c. BC. with the cult of a pre-Hellenic deity, which later became Athena Lindia (Minerva). In the Archaic period, the cult was revived, thanks to Cleobulus, who had constructed a big temple and had the same Doric tetrastyle amphiprostyle plan as the subsequent one. The temple of the Archaic period was destroyed by fire in 342. BC. and on its place a new one was constructed, the same we can see until today. The acropolis was surrounded by a strong wall, constructed during the Hellenistic times. The castle continued to be in use during the Byzantine period and was reconstructed during the Knight’s period with the addiction of watch-towers and bastions. The castle was also used by Ottomans until 1844 when it was completely abandoned. Excavations of Lindos were carried out at the beginning of the 20th c. and in 1952 by the Danish Archaeological Institute, revealing the great importance of the sanctuary of Lindos at all periods.

The Entrance

The Acropolis is accessible only from the north side following the partly raising pavement that leads to the entrance to the fort and the archaeological site. Passing through a few gateways, one enters a wide plateau with a large staircase leading to the entrance to the Knight’s Headquarters.

A semicircular podium and a prow of a ship (a trireme – 5m long and about 5.5 m high) are hewn into the cliff on the left side (date from 170 BC). The podium was used as a base for a statue dedicated to the admiral Hagesandros son of Mikion. The semicircular exedra was used for a short rest by people climbing up to the sanctuary. Remnants of an ancient stairway are also to be found here.

Palace of the Knight’s Governor

Ascending to the top of the large staircase, visitors enter the Dioketerion through an arched entrance. It is protected by a machicolation above it, through which the defenders poured boiling oil on the attackers during sieges! Above the gate, is the coat of arms of the Grand Master D’Aubusson. On the ground floor, many inscribed pedestals and altars are found, part of the wealth of epigraphic material scattered about the acropolis that provided valuable information on the history of the sanctuary.

Passing through the medieval governor’s residence one comes to the remains of the Byzantine three-aisled domed cross-in-square Church of St. John (13th century) while behind it there is a level area with a semicircular podium of the 3rd century BC, probably a place of initiation to the cult of Athena, as well as the bases of votive statues. A little further down to the left there are the ruins of a small Roman temple.

Hellenistic Stoa and Propylea

The most important part of the monument of the Lindian sanctuary starts with the great Hellenistic stoa. The row of vaults and the staircase are dating from the 1st c. AD. Climbing the first staircase, one reaches the restored ruins of the stoa. Its length is about 87 m, width 9 m, height 6 m. It was composed of 42 Doric columns in the form of the Greek letter Pi. Only 20 columns remain today. This is the space where people would gather to watch religious activities in the sanctuary or engage in various activities of the agora – political, judicial, social,  philosophical discussions, or feasting.

From there a grand wide stairway leads to the Propylea of the temple, built after 408 BC. It consisted of two collonades with a series of rooms between them. This building has not been restored, only the outline of the rooms is visible. It is similar to the lower stoa, though significantly narrower. Here, the rear wall of the stoa separated the main precinct, in which the temple stood, from the rest of the acropolis. Five doors in the wall provided access to the interior, where stoas with colonnades enclosed a courtyard in front of the temple of Athena. There were rooms for various uses connected with the needs of the sanctuary, both outside and inside the stoa.

The Temple of Athena

To the south of the courtyard, its façade penetrating the south-east corner stands the restored temple, which was the culmination and the epicenter of the famous sanctuary. The temple measured c. 8X22 m – relatively small, given the importance of the sanctuary, but it was probably due to the limited space available on the rock. At the back of the cella stood the cult statue of the goddess Athena, following the general model of Pheidias’s Athena in the Parthenon. The temple had four columns on the façade and at the rear. The main structure included pronaos, which was reached by three steps from the courtyard, a cella, and an opisthodomos. An important inscribed catalog of the priests of Athena is thought to have been placed to the right and left of the entrance t the cella. At the back to the cella stood the cult statue of the goddess. Valuable dedications and artwork were kept in the temple.

The edge of the acropolis, to the south of the opisthodomos of the temple, there is a scenic view over the lower town, with the modern settlement and the harbor of St. Paul.

*Historical Sources:

Dr. I. Ch. Papachristodoulou, LINDOS Brief History – The Monuments, Hellenic Ministry of Culture Archaeological Receipts Fund, Athens 2006


Vicky Dikou-Adwera, Lindos The beauty that outlasts time:  Photographs, History, Tourist Guide, Publisher Marmatakis Bros, Chania.



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