Residential Quarter (detour)

Our route is indicated on the cornerstone of the building above the north end of the royal Stoa by a large, engraved phallus, an optimistic symbol of fortune and prosperity, more than a sexual proposition. The design, in which the circles have been cut using a compass, looks like a later en graving on a panel which had previously eroded. It points appropriately to the small, Hellenistic Temple of Dionysos, opposite, on the right hand side of the stepped street. In the spaces adjacent to the latter temple, there are fragments of architrave decoration, including a run of triglyphs in marble, which have been unearthed in excavations. At the top of the steps, a path which dog-legs to the right leads across a space occupied by a gymnasium to an imposingly large residence with a clearly visible entrance atrium, before which sits a ‘bomb’ of black lava, of the kind ejected by the volcano when active. This building was arbitrarily dubbed the Governor’s Residence, because of its position at the highest point and its grand propylon or porticoed doorway which marked the entrance from the street to its east. To the left, from the top of the steps above the Temple of Dionysos, the street descends through some of the best-preserved residential buildings on the site: one conserves its foricae in good condition, and a plastered cistern supported by pillars for storing the water deriving from an impluvium above; others have coloured threshold blocks in red and black volcanic stone; and most preserve vestiges, at the base of their interior walls, of the red painted plaster which coated their surface. Beyond, the path drops down to the Temple of Pythian Apollo of which little remains, beyond a finely cut lustral basin. The building was converted in the 6th century into an early Byzantine church, whose apse can be seen to the east. At this point, to south and west, an immense view opens out over the south coast at Peri­ssa and Vlychada, with the mass of the mountain rising in vertical striations sheer out of the flat, coastal shelf below. overlooking this sobering sight is a rock shelf, cut with an amphitheatre of niches and ledges: this was the sanctuary of the Egyptian Gods, deities which included Isis, Anubis and Serapis, who were imported into the cosmopolitan world of Hellenistic Greece through commerce with Egypt.

Santorini Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.

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