Map: R.A. Tomlinson, Argos and the Argolid, Londen 1972
Argos (inhabitants of Latin Argivi, Ndl. Argivers). The name of the city (and of the acropolis) is pre-Greek, but the oldest settlement was a few kilometers closer to Mykene, near the so-called Argivic Heraion, a shrine dedicated to Hera. Argos was one of the three most important places on the fertile plain of the Argolis during the Mykean period. Argos considered himself the rightful successor of Tiryns and Mykene and thus of the mythological tradition around Agamemnon and the Trojan War.
In the classical period, after a long series of wars, Argos lost his power to Sparta (after 600 BC) and would only play a minor role, sometimes as an ally of Athens in her struggle with Sparta and sometimes neutral. In the Middle Ages, the crusaders set up a Frankish castle on the site of the ancient acropolis, which later changed hands several times between the Venetians and the Turks. There is a small interesting museum and a number of important sights in particular the agora
The agora of Argos on a view from the Larisa as a reconstruction, photo and on a recent map (BCH 119, (1995) p. 438). Unlike most older floor plans, the kriterion is seen here as part of the agora, right before the 3rd century theater; older reconstructions place the kriterion at the Larissa nymph. The Sanctuary of Apollo Lykeios is placed here (quite speculatively) east of the Nemea – Lerna road, on the basis of indirect indications that the sanctuary of Zeus Nemeios was slightly north of the gymnasium and that the Sanctuary of Apollo Lykeios (“the most famous building in Argos city ”Pausanias 2.19.3) was next to it. More research is needed to show exactly how everything went.
The most important buildings on the agora are a square building, with 16 columns to support the roof, probably a bouleuterion (and not mentioned by Pausanias for that reason); to the north east thereof was a (very old) orchestra, possibly a place of dance intended for ritual dances in honor of Apollo Lykeios; just to the southeast of the bouleuterion was a large rectangular complex, surrounded on the outside with colonnade. This complex originally had an open courtyard (and was therefore probably a gymnasion), which in the later times was equipped with a bathhouse (thermal baths B) on the west side. The east side was converted into a palaestra; right in front of the gymnasion was originally a running track (as on the agora of Athens), complete with starting mechanism and 18 running tracks of 1 m width; opposite the gymnasion on the other side of the running track is a 1st century nymph (source house); the agora ran in NW-ZO towards an (originally open) drain (“voie du Céphise”), which was replaced in Roman times by several vaulted drains.
Argos’ most impressive building in its current form (except for the theater) is undoubtedly the Roman bathhouse, probably built after Pausanias. In his time there was probably a sanctuary for Sarapis.
Photos on the left: The theater of Argos, carved into the rock hill, could seat around 20,000 people, making it, together with that of Megalopolis and Sikyon, one of the largest theaters in Greece. A small relief of the Dioskouren can be found in the southern parodos (with some difficulty).
Every summer the Argos theater is used for countless performances, ranging from comedy, music, dance to classical tragedy. Hundreds of spectators come together to enjoy the show in the open air in the evening. Many people bring a pillow or something to drink. In the photo gallery a performance of the Bacchen van Euripides from 2013. See how the god Dionysos brings his frenzied Maenads to Thebes, where a confrontation with the arch-conservative king Pentheus eventually leads to his downfall.
Hera Acraia and sanctuary of Apollo
When someone from present-day Argos takes the road to the Larisa, he soon sees left and right of the road the remains of the here mentioned shrines. The site of the temple of Hera Acraia is now occupied by the beautifully situated monastery of the Panagia tou Vrakhou (Virgin of the Rock, photo above), while the sanctuary of Apollo rests against the Aspis (photos on the right, taken from the Larisa), the Acropolis of Argos before the Larisa was built. A large staircase carved into the rock and an altar remain on this large sanctuary. The stairs led to the central terrace, where the Apollo temple lay, which was built over by a large, Byzantine church (now also fragmentary).
On the map 1) cistern, 2) propylon, 3) aula and narthex of basilica, 4) remains of the altar, 5) the foundations of the basilica, 6) rectangular building (oracle), 7) cistern for a sanctuary, 8 ) foundations of a tholos.
acropolis Argos (Larisa)
Above: The Larisa near Argos served as an acropolis of Argos in ancient times and was later used as a fortress by the Byzantines, the Franks, Venetians and the Turks. Remains of classical wall work can still be found in the largely medieval fortress. A few fragments of the temples of Zeus and those of Athens are still incorporated in the walls, while the foundations of both temples have been found in the square of the castle. The view from the Larisa covers the entire Argolis.