The temple of Aphaia is a 5th century Doric temple dedicated to the local goddess of the island of Aegina, on which the temple is located. The temple of Aphaia stood on the site of an earlier (6th century) Doric temple. The temple of Hera in Olympia (in the Peloponnese) was constructed a bit earlier (in 590 BC); however, only the foundations remain owing to an earthquake in the 4th century. Both are Doric temples, with fairly simple column capitals and (the hallmark of the Doric order) a theme of triglyphs and metopes in the entablature. The Doric order as a rule demonstrates sophisticated optical corrections, specifically adjusting for the fact that triglyphs (panels with lines interrupting the sculptural metopes) are situated directly above the columns, but also in the corners of the temple. The ancient architects had to finesse these specifications to make the temple appear robust and symmetrical.
Both the Temple of Aphaia and the Temple of Hera are hexastyle (with six columns in the front), but the temple of Aphaia is six by 12 columns, and the (larger) temple of Hera is six by 16. Both have two columns in the pronaos (the area in front of the cella)—an architectural feature termed distyle in antis.
The Temple of Aphaia's pedimental sculpture included the battle of Hercules against the Trojan king Laomedon, along with Athena and Telamon on the western pediment. The eastern pediment showed the Telamon's son, Ajax, in a Trojan War scene. Telamon and Ajax were descents of the nymph, Aegina, after whom the island is named. The Temple of Hera (originally made of wood, then later replaced with stone materials) was originally dedicated to both Zeus and Hera, but then exclusively to Hera after the construction of another temple to Zeus nearby. Little sculpture was recovered from the Temple of Hera, except for a famous head of the goddess, as well as a sculpture of Hermes with the infant Dionysus, attributed to the sculptor Praxiteles.
Unlike most temples (of all tree major Classical orders), which feature a single story of columns from the floor to the ceiling, the Temple of Aphaia has an interior second story of columns in the interior. That is, the interior cella had two stories of columns. Because this temple is located on top of a hill on the island, the two stories of columns in the interior would have exaggerated the feeling of height, comparable to walking into any high-ceilinged room such as a cathedral. Generally speaking, the temple of Hera is renowned for its exceptional antiquity and statue of Hermes and Dionysus, and the Temple of Aphaia for its location and well-preserved sculptural program.