Basilica of Lechaion

The basilica of Lechaion was dedicated to Leonides, the bishop of Athens, who was martyred, along with seven women, around the mid-3rd c. AD, by being cast into the nearby sea. It came to light through excavations funded by the Archaeological Society and conducted by the archaeologist D. I. Pallas during the 1950s and 1960s.

The basilica, the most important early byzantine monument in the Peloponnese, takes up an area of 11.000 sq. m. on the western branch of the ancient port of Lechaion, one of the two ports of Ancient and Byzantine Corinth. The other port was Kenchreai, on the Saronic gulf.

It is the longest basilica in mainland Greece (ca. 180 m.). It belongs to the three-aisled basilica type, with a five-aisled transept and a dome, a narthex, a double atrium, a tripartite baptistery and multiple annexes. Staircases on the west side led to the upper galleries.


The monument is believed to have been founded in the second half of the 5th c. AD, and was tiled and added to by the first third of the 6th c. In general, several parts of the church show signs of different phases, alterations and additions. The use of the basilica ceased possibly in the 7th c., due to its collapse caused by an earthquake. In later periods, new churches were built within the apse of the altar.

In the baptistery, it is believed that the western aisle was dedicated to the pre-baptismal ceremony, while the tetraconch space was a changing room. Τhe octagonal space containing two baptismal fonts, probably one for children and one for adults, is the area where the baptism itself took place (photisterion). In later years, not too far distant from the destruction of the basilica, the area of the photisterion was also converted into a church.


To the south and west of the church, extensive building remains have been discovered. These buildings were constructed mostly after the destruction of the basilica. They included refectories, wine-presses, cisterns etc. and the dating of their abandonment remains a desideratum for research. Important indications for continuation in the usage of the area even after the ruination of the basilica (grave offerings) were located also in graves outside the basilica. To the northwest of the basilica, excavations have revealed a bath, with several usage phases.

The number of small finds from the excavation is huge; they cover a wide chronological spectrum from the late Roman to the Frankish period and include coins, pots and potsherds, lamps, glass lamps, metal objects and tools etc.

The restoration of the basilica of Lechaion, as in the case 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).