Corinth Monument: Lechaion Harbor Basilica
Collection:   Corinth
Type:   Monument
Name:   Lechaion Harbor Basilica
Alias:   North Stoa
Description:   The basilica is built on a sand spit separating the inner basins of Lechaion harbor from the sea. It consists of a three aisled structure with two atria at the west end and a transept and single apse at the east end. The total length from outer atrium to apse is 180 meters and is comparable to the size of the original basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. It counts among the largest such structures anywhere. Indeed the length and height of the building made it a prominent landmark for those looking towards the sea from the city and for travelers arriving by land and sea. Like all of the basilicas at Corinth and a great many found in Greece, the nave is divided from the aisles by the high stylobate of the colonnade and by screens between the columns. Clearly the intention was to separate the congregation in the aisles from activity in the nave. Galleries for the catechumens above the aisles were accessed by stairwells outside the basilica immediately to the north and south of the inner atrium. The floors were paved with opus sectile panels and the lower walls were clad with marble revetment. The uniform order of columns, capitals and screens are of Proconnesian marble and therefore appear, as indeed the whole church may be, an imperial donation.
The ornate Baptistery is an independent construction and takes the form of a rectangular lobby with apses at either end. Its shape is reminiscent of the plan of contemporary bath houses. It is thought to have been dedicated to Leonidas, a 3rd century Bishop of Athens, who was hung at Corinth. His body was thrown into the sea at Lechaion. It, and the bodies of seven Corinthian women who were drowned for mourning his death, were cast ashore and the local Christian community buried them on the beach and raised a church. A coin of Marcian (A.D. 450-457) in a foundation trench indicates the basilica was started after the middle of the 5th century and a coin of Anastasius I (A.D. 491-518) gives a completion date after the early 6th century. If standing, the basilica seems to have survived the earthquake of ca. 522 which did great damage to Corinth because the grave of Thomas the Presbyter next to the apse dates to ca. 600.
Site:   Lechaion Harbor
City:   Lechaio
Country:   Greece
References:   Plans and Drawings (13)
Image: bw 1967 004 02
Image: digital 2014 0898