Hercules Gate

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The Heracles gate is located on the Curettes road and separates uptown from downtown. Two monumental pillars from the structure hold reliefs of Hercules. An inscription says the gate dates back to the 2nd century AD. However archeologists believe these reliefs were brought from other buildings to be used in the construction of the gate sometime in the 4th century AD. This theory is supported by the fact that Curetes Street was used as a pedestrian area starting around the 4th century. It’s clear from its architecture that the Heracles Gate would have narrowed the access to the street, preventing the passage of vehicles. As materials from other buildings were frequently repurposed in new construction, it is likely the pillars were reused because of their decoration.

The gate gets its name from the reliefs of Hercules that adorn its columns. Hercules is accepted to be the greatest of Greek heroes, and considered the epitome of masculinity. In the reliefs, Heracles is depicted wearing the skin of the Nemean lion. In mythology, Hercules was charged with defeating the lion whose skin so thick that it was impossible to kill him. Heracles saved Nemea from the beast by wrestling it to the ground and choking it to death.

In ancient times, the two story building would have had six columns on each floor. Visitors today will only be able to see the two side columns. Other parts of the structure, including the archway are still missing, though some of the columns with reliefs have been relocated to Domitian Square for public viewing. The popular relief of the winged Goddess Nike in the square is believed to originally have come from this gate. It would have rested at the corner where the arch joins the pillars with Corinthian capitals.

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