Basilica of Kraneion

The basilica of Kraneion is situated to the east of the modern settlement of Ancient Corinth, outside the early Byzantine walls of the city and near the Kenchreai gate of the ancient fortifications. Pausanias states that the area called “Kraneion” was a cypress grove, encompassing a temple of Aphrodite Melainis, a chthonic divinity worshipped in cemeteries. The density of ceramic finds from the classical, Hellenistic and Roman era provides definite proof of uninterrupted use of the area from the classical to the Roman period. Burial finds anterior to the basilica justify the funerary character of the area and of the church. The latter must have been built within the first 20 years of the 6th c. AD and underwent several phases of usage and alterations.


The basilica was excavated by the American School of Classical Studies, during the ’20s and the ’30s, and by D. I. Pallas during the ’70s. It is a three-aisled basilica, with rows of pillars on stylobates, a semi-circular apse with synthronon, a non-protruding transept and a narthex. It is surrounded by annexes, burial chambers, a triconch building and a large courtyard to the south, by an atrium to the west and by a baptistery to the northwest. Its ground plan resembles that of the basilica of the martyr Leonides in Lechaion, but is of smaller scale.

The basilica’s masonry consisted of bricks, with courses of cut porous stones at the corners and at the thresholds. On the outside, the masonry was covered by plastering and on the inside by a marble revetment and possibly by mosaics. The basilica had an opus sectile floor with multiple colours and shapes.

The areas funerary function continued well into the 7th c. The basilica was replaced by smaller, domed churches during the Middle Byzantine (10th-12th c.) and the Frankish (1204-1453) periods, which took up the eastern section of the central nave. The baptistery was also converted to a church, while in several sections of the church there are indications of building remains after the basilica fell into ruin and was abandoned.


The excavation of the monument brought to light a high number of pottery fragments, coins, glass lamps, and metal objects such as keys, tools etc.

The restoration of the basilica of Kraneion was funded by the NSRF (Regional Operation Programme Peloponnesus, budget 650.000€), and undertaken by the 25th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities (2011-2014) and the Ephorate of Antiquities of Corinthia (2014-1015).