Archaeological Area of the Temple of Belvedere
The temple, from the Etruscan era, is located at the far northern end of the city, on a panoramic clearing. Between the 5th and 6th centuries B.C., it was a building of worship probably linked to the underworld, as revealed by some excavated structures and a black, varnished vase with a painted dedication to Tinia (the name of the great Etruscan divinity, corresponding to the Roman Jupiter) calusna: a Jupiter with "Chthonic" aspects.
This is the best conserved monument of Etruscan Orvieto and has always been considered as one of the canonical examples of holy Etruscan architecture. The temple is nowadays part of PAAO (Parco Archeologico e Ambientale dell'Orvietano), a project which focuses on enhancing archaeological heritage in relation to the various natural resources. The various architectonic terracotta can also be viewed from the building. These are of exceptional quality and are on show both at the Museo Claudio Faina and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale of Orvieto museums.
The temple was discovered in 1828 following construction works of via Cassia Nuova and the walls and foundations remain. These show a floor of a building set out with an entrance hall, (the front part) with four columns on the front, behind which an area opens out with three cells alongside with the central part being wider than the side parts. The temple, facing south-east, rises on a high rectangular podium which is 21.9m long whereas the width of the front part (16.3m) and that behind (16.9m) are asymmetrical with no clear motivation as to why this is so. Access was made via a centrally placed ramp and opposite the entrance, closed in by a quadrangular area. The area was probably excavated in tufa behind the temple and covered in cocciopesto (lime mortar with crushed pottery), with benches along the three walls and the other remains of the structure and a cistern which has been excavated more recently are linked to the cult which was practised in the holy area. As a whole, the physiognomy of the temple falls into the category of typical temple buildings defined as "Etruscan-Italian" whose appearance is discussed by Vitruvius (1st century B.C) in his fundamental text De Architettura, which also mentioned a quantity of painted terracotta which cover rafters and structures; pediments which showed even complex pictures, with well-rounded statues in polychrome terracotta of great effect. During the excavation a conspicuous number of architectonic terracotta were recovered, connected to at least two building phases: a small number of fragments and some matrices belong to the oldest phase (the second half of the 6th Century to the start of the 5th century B.C.). From the second phase (end of the 5th century B.C.), which is well documented, various fragments related to the high-reliefs of the back pediment have survived. These depict a scene with various characters with significant stylistic similarities to the Magno greco environment, in particular with the works of Fidia. Only a few fragments of terracotta belong to a later phase, relating to interventions to substitute elements which have deteriorated over the course of time.
Information and useful advice
It is easy to get to the area from Piazzale Cahen, going down Viale Crispi. From Orvieto Scalo, you can use the funicular or direct shuttle minibus to the various areas of the city centre. Likewise, from the Railway station you can go to the city centre using the Funicular and Minibus Alternative Mobility System.