Temple of the Dioscuri – Cori, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Temple of the Dioscuri

Cori, Italy

Only three columns survive from this ancient temple in the town of Cori.  

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The town of Cori, the ancient Cora, located on the Lepini mountains southeast of Rome, contains the ruins of the Temple of Hercules, as well as the more fragmentary Temple of the Dioscuri. Castor and Pollux, the Dioscuri, were two semi-divine half brothers (sons of Leda, Zeus, and Tyndareus, the king of Sparta), with Pollux being immortal and Castor becoming immortal after they were transformed into the constellation Gemini. They are also the brothers of twin sisters Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra.

Their cult was popular in the Roman world, and the temple in Cori would have dominated the city’s skyline from an early age. Archaeologists believe that a previous temple occupied the spot before two magistrates rebuilt the temple in the first century. (Their names are visible on the architrave along with the dedication to the half-brothers.)

Only two 30-foot-tall Corinthian columns are still free-standing, while a third is incorporated in a house. (The temple shouldn’t be confused with the Temple of Castor and Pollux in Rome’s Forum, which also has three standing columns.) The temple was originally hexastyle (with six columns on the facade), and most of it was recycled into private houses and the Church of San Salvatore. Fragments of the monumental marble statues of the gods were found during the excavations and are now preserved in the local museum.