The temple of Agios Nikolaos Marmaritis in Emporio on Santorini is a somewhat forgotten curiosity – a fully preserved temple from ancient times, whose construction dates back to the 3rd century.
Its intact construction is all the more surprising given the earthquakes regularly occurring on Santorini and the difficult weather conditions (strong winds, violent rainfall).
The building is located at the entrance to the village of Emporio. The church is located on the left side of the main road leading into town (driving from Fira – the capital of Santorini). However, it is easy to miss it due to its rather small size and lack of information signs.
History and current use
The temple, whose patroness was the goddess Basilea, was built as a family burial monument. “Marmaritis” in its name refers to the material used in its construction, namely marble. It is one of the best preserved ancient religious buildings, not only on Santorini but in the whole of Greece. Moreover, it is still in use – it now houses the Orthodox Church of Agios Nikolaos.
Agios Nikolaos Marmaritis is roughly square in shape. It is small, as its dimensions are 4.18 x 3.59 m. It was built of grey marble. The marble roof is supported by three marble columns in the centre.
Inside the room is a small niche – a place for the statue of Basilea, to whom the temple was originally dedicated, flanked by two Ionic columns and a Doric architrave.
This building is a fine example of Hellenistic period architecture. It now also houses more contemporary icons and artefacts of a religious nature.
The temple is usually closed and visits are possible by appointment with the priest.