Aegina

1. Welcome to Aegina island

Aegina holidays Greece
Aegina holidays Greece

The island of Aegina is located very close to the main port of Greece, which is the large passenger port of Piraeus. You have to travel to Aegina by boat, however the journey is very pleasant and short (between 40 and 80 minutes depending on the type of the boat) and the journey will remain among the enjoyable parts of your holiday experience.

The main city of Aegina is also the capital city of the island and it’s located on the west side. It’s built amphitheatrically towards the sea. When you enter the harbor, the small, white church of Saint Nikolas welcomes you to the island.

Your first impression of the island is the modern type of classical buildings, which are located along the sea front of the island and have many types of terrestrial shade colors which make them look even more beautiful at sunset.

Holidays on Aegina Island in Greece
Holidays on Aegina Island in Greece

The economic and social life of Aegina is centralized on the coastal road and the parallel roads. Take a ride on the horses and the carriages, walk in the narrow, paved streets and see the traditional houses, the churches with the blue domes and the shops with folk art.

Don’t miss seeing the fish-market, the traditional restaurants that serve snacks with ouzo (a Greek drink). Also the fishing boats, which are not only used for fishing but for selling groceries as well. And finally don’t forget to buy the famous peanuts of Aegina.

If you would like to visit the beautiful island of Aegina, you may book your accommodation through our site and get a special discount. If you have fallen in love with Aegina. If you need any kind of extra information, then please contact us here information@abettergreece.com or +30 69 34 620 501 / +30 22840 24 879

2. Activities on Aegina

The small island of Aegina has a very rich history. All of the beaches of Aegina are equally as beautiful, while the sites and the environment and general atmosphere on the island will make you feel relaxed and happy. While sightseeing on the island, The Temple of Aphaia is certainly the jewel of Aegina island, walk around the area of Paleachora, visit the very famous archaeological site of Kolona.

Spend your holidays on Aegina sunbathing, snorkeling, swimming, walking along the beaches, discovering hidden corners of the island, sailing, walking, cycling, taking a day trip or just wining & dining in the traditional taverns. Try to also visit the neighboring islands of the Saronic Gulf group or why not combine Aegina with a day trip to Athens?

Horse riding on Aegina: A brilliant option is to discover some of the beauties of the island of Aegina on horse back! Ride along the beaches, in the countryside on horse back! Children are also welcome and there will be an experienced guide with you at all times. You can contact Stelios Horse Riding by telephone: +30 22970 53081 & +30 6945 918 577 or Fontas Horse Riding Eleonas by the telephone:  +30 6973 000 826

Aegina accommodation Greece
Aegina accommodation Greece

Walking around Aegina: Aegina’s variety of landscapes and mild climate make the island a hiker’s haven all year round. Whether you’re in the mood for a leisurely stroll or a challenging climb, Aegina has paths for everyone. The northern part of the island has a lot of vegetation and offers journeys through woods and tree groves. The eastern coast is covered in green hills and striking sea views. These hills turn into mountains and cliffs as you enter the southern portion of the island. This is certainly the most difficult region of Aegina to traverse, making the Western plains and flat, coastal routes welcome relief.

Wind surfing on Aegina: Windsurfing is possible in many of the bays around the island including Marathonas and Ayia Marina. There are shops along the beaches at both locations which rent out equipment. Artemis Studios in Ayia Marina has a variety of marine activity equipment to rent. Telephone contact: +30 22970 32677

Wine tours on Aegina: The Northeast village of Mesagros is involved in grape cultivation which produces small quantities of wine each year for local consumption. Though there are no specific vineyards, ask around Mesagros and you will be sure to find a few bottles from someone’s harvest.

Aegina travel Greece
Aegina travel, Greece

Boat trips on Aegina – Sailing on Aegina: Touring the island by boat is a spectacular way to explore Aegina. You can find several vessels moored along the harbor which offer a variety of tours, some of which circumnavigate the island while others make stops for swimming at amazing bays which are inaccessible by land. Other companies make day trips between Aegina and other islands of the Saronic Gulf, such as Poros, Hydra and Spetses.  The Aegina Workshop (Ergastiri tis Eginas) offers boat trips around the Saronic Gulf accompanied by experienced sailors. Participants can learn about sailing aboard.

Cycling around Aegina: Bicycle enthusiasts rejoice! Aegina is ideal for cycling and its variety of landscapes offer routes suited for every level. The coastal roads of the West, North and East are beautiful, with the Eastern side being more challenging due to the many ups and downs. Aegina has a great road system and the main road from the port inland towards Ayia Marina is another picturesque route. The roads of the South Central region are the most difficult on the island and are best ridden on a mountain bike. An easy route is the picturesque coastal road of the west which leads from Aegina Town to Perdika and passes through the seaside settlements of Marathonas and Aeginitissa. Riding this route at dusk is a magical experience as the sunset along the coast is truly incredible.

Sightseeing on Aegina: 

Aegina museums Greece
Aegina museums Greece

Local excavations have uncovered evidence that Aegina was continuously inhabited from as far back 3500 BC. The island’s advantageous position close to both Attica and the Peloponnese and its role as a major trading center in the Mediterranean may explain the presence of Minoan, Mycenaean, and Doric artifacts.

Scuba diving on the island of Aegina: Experienced and first-time divers will all enjoy the underwater playground surrounding Aegina with the opportunity to see various types of fish and marine plants.

Telephone: +30 22970 25723 / +30 22970 32266

bird watching on Aegina Greece
bird watching on Aegina Greece

Bird watching on Aegina: Aegina is an excellent virgin destination for bird watchers who can encounter several different species throughout the year. Some areas known for avian inhabitants include Mt. Ellanio (Hellanios), the mountain refuge of Pachia Rachi and the area outside the village of Kontos. Catch a glimpse of Rock Partridges, Sardinian and Sub-alpine Warblers, Northern Wheat eaters and even White Storks.

3. Best beaches on Aegina

Aegina beaches Greece
Aegina beaches Greece

Avra beach on Aegina: The Avra beach is the closest beach to the port of the main town of Aegina. This beach is located in front of the archaeological site of Kolona and at walking distance from the ferries. While sitting on the beach, you can enjoy watching the “Flying Dolphins”, sailing yachts, luxury motor yachts and the picturesque small fishing boats come and go to the island. On the horizon you see the neighboring island of Agistri, Methanas and the Peloponnese, in the back. The sunsets are spectacular. On the beach side you will find a small boat yard, where traditional wooden fishing boats are built and maintained, using traditional techniques. A children’s playground is located opposite the beach. An organised beach with sunbeds, umbrellas and a cafeteria/ bar right on the sand. The water is shallow and is suitable and safe for little children. Many choices of accommodation and taverns are within a walking distance.

beaches on Aegina in Greece
beaches on Aegina in Greece

Panayitsa beach on Aegina: Just a 5  minutes walk from the port of Aegina town you will find the Panayitsa (Small Virgin Mary) beach. The beach has been named after the Panayitsa church on the boulevard. This beach is used by a lot of locals from the town in the morning you will see a lot of older Greek ladies who are enjoying their daily swim. Next to the beach you will find Babis restaurant who also rents out sunbeds and umbrellas. Here you can enjoy your drink, lunch or dinner. In the evening the sunbeds are replaced by tables and it is possible to dine right on the beach.

Ayia Marina beach on Aegina: The beach of Ayia Marina is the longest beach on the island of Aegina, its shallow water makes it an ideal beach for families. From the middle of May until the end of September you can hire sunbeds with umbrellas, paddle boats and canoes or play volleyball in the water! During the summer, events and various parties are organised. There are many restaurants and taverns upon the beach offering luxury dining options.

Prosinemo beach on Aegina: Prosinemo beach beach is located on the north side of Aegina, just next to Kamares beach. An organised beach with sunbeds and umbrellas’s and a canteen. On the beach and in the water you will find some toys for kids

Klima beach on Aegina: The Sandy pebbled Beach of Klima is located on the south side of the island, next to the bay of Klidi. During the week, it is a quiet beach but during the weekends it can be quite busy as the bay is a popular anchor bay. If you look from the beach upwards the hill you see the houses of the village of Sfendouri. In the past 8 years a lot of new houses have been built in this area. Those who like snorkeling and diving will find many good spots here at the south side of the island. When you snorkel close to the beach and next to the rocks you are already able to see many fishes.

Sarpa beach on Aegina: On the south part of Aegina island, well tucked away, you will find Sarpa Beach. A wide sandy beach with sunbeds and umbrellas, a volley field and small canteen that serves drinks and food. The views from the beach to Moni island, Methana and the Peloponnese are fantastic and change every hour.

4. Sightseeing on Aegina

sightseeing on Aegina Greece
sightseeing on Aegina Greece

The archaeological site of Kolonos: This is a very important archaeological site, not only because of the ruins of the famous temple of Apollo and other buildings, but also because it contains the remains of ten successive prehistoric settlements dating from the late Neolithic period (5th millennium BC) until the Mycenaean period (1600 – 1200 BC). All the finds are gathered on a hill to the north of the port, at the peak of which stands a single column (kolona), from which the hill took its name. The column, which is part of the temple of Apollo, is the only one out of the eleven which stood on each of the long sides and the six on each of the short sides which has remained upright. The temple was built in the late 6th century BC and dominated the region due to its size and its beauty which was equal, it is said, to that of the temple of Aphaia. The foundations of some other structures belonging to the temple have also survived, such as the altar to the east of the temple, the temple of Artemis to the south east, two small rectangular buildings and a circular one. There are also the remains of many walls from different eras, such as the Bronze Age fortress walls, the archaic acropolis walls, the Roman sanctuary walls, the so other called port walls which run down towards the port. Other significant remains are those of a rectangular structure which was perhaps used as a gathering place and which Pindar refers to as a viewing gallery.

The museum of Kolonas: The museum of Kolonas is located in front of the site in a new, square, one story building with a large atrium in the center. The atrium contains sculptures from the cemetery of Reneia, from the time that Capodistrias brought them to Aegina. The splendid large and narrow hall of the museum contains some fine exhibits dating from the late Neolithic period until the Roman period. At the entrance to the museum are the impressive models of a house from the prehistoric city III on the hill of Kolonas, the so called ‘white house’ had two floors. The foundry dates to around 2300 BC, whilst the ‘white house’ dates to around 2200 BC.

monastery on Aegina in Greece
monastery on Aegina in Greece

The monastery of Ayios Nektarios: An imposing church with two belfries and four rows of windows with red arches suddenly appears on the left of the road. This is Ayios Nektarios, a new church built below the Monastery of Ayios Nektarios, the architecture of which is reminiscent of that of Ayia Sophia in Constantinopole. This nunnery, the entrance to which is on the road to Souval and very near to the crossing with Aegina – Aphaia arterial road, was built at the beginning of the 20th century on the site of a small Byzantine monastery dedicated to the Zoodochos Pigi (life-giving source) by the bishop of Pentapoli Nektarios. Ayios Nektarios passed the last years of his life in the monastery, carrying out a great philanthropic work and gaining the admiration and adoration of the faithful, who flocked to the monastery to help him. Many still talk about his generosity and his ability to cure people suffering from incurable diseases. Ayios Nektarios died in 1920 and was buried in the monastery. He was canonized in 1961. From then the monastery which had been known as the monastery of Ayios Theodoros, was renamed the monastery of Ayios Nektarios. The saint’s memory is celebrated on the 9th of November, when thousands of faithful gather at the monastery from all over Greece.

Chrysoleontissa monastery: The monastery is located in the center of the island and it dominates from high up on the luscious – green mountain slopes. The road terminates at a mountain range, from which point we can reach the monastery after a walk of about fifteen minutes. The monastery, with fortress like walls, was built at the beginning of the 17th century so that the old monastery at Leonti on the north coast of the island could be moved to a safer place and escape from the relentless pirate raids. It is a large two story building with a court yard in the center. In the court yard there is a church and, next to it, a tall three story tower. The church is newer and was built on the site of the older one, which was destroyed in a fire. The icon of the Panayia (virgin Mary) is well worth seeing. The Aeginitans all bow with respect to this icon. The churches’ iconostasis and wall – paintings are also of interest. The monastery, which celebrates its feast day on the 15th August, when the island’s largest festival takes place, converted in 1935 from a male monastery to a female nunnery.

Palaiochora: Palaiochora is another Mystras. It began to be built in 896 after a fierce raid by Saracene pirates on the coastal town of Aegina. Centuries later it became the capital of the island, to be abandoned at the beginning of the 19th century when the inhabitants slowly began to return to the sea and rebuild the new Aegina. Some grey yellow buildings can be seen scattered around on this hill. These are approximately 35 of the many churches that existed in Palaiochora (tradition says that there were 365) which remain standing. Around 20 of these still have some fine wall paintings preserved.

The temple of Aphaia: After Messagros, begins the ascent up a beautiful pine – clad hill, at the top of which is one of the most beautiful temples of ancient Greece, the temple of Aphaia – dedicated to the ancient Greek goddess Aphaia. Before the temple that we see today was built, two smaller temples had been constructed, the first was built in around 600 BC and only a small section of its foundations survive. Only the altar survives from the second temple. The third temple to have been built, the one we see today is an exceptional example of late archaic architecture. It is in the Doric order and was built with local limestone in around 500 BC. It had six columns on the short sides and twelve on the long sides. Twenty of these columns survive today, whilst in the cellar (the main area of the temple) there were two internal colonnades parallel to the main colonnades with, five columns each. There was a second row of five smaller columns above, built in such a way as to form a stoar, in the form of a raised section around the three sides of the temple. The decoration on both the exterior as well as the interior was exceptional. what gave the temple its greatest splendor, however were its famous pediment sculptors. Unfortunately, these have suffered a similar fate to those of the Parthenon. Around the temple there are the remains of various buildings. Entrance to the archaeological site is through a small gate way, straight ahead to the right are the ruins of the priests houses and immediately after them are the baths. There follow the great gate and the path, taken by the procession, beginning from the altar and reaching the entrance to the temple which is in its east side. The temple was divided, as was the rule, into the pronaos, the cellar – the main area of the temple which housed the Goddess’ Aphaia’s statue – and the opisthodomos at the back. The temple is connected to the port of Aegina, 11,5 kilometers away by coaches that depart from Ayia Marina. The archaeological site is opened every day except Mondays from 8.30 to 17.00

The temple of Zeus Hellanios: At the foot of the tallest mountain Oros on the island of Aegina stands the temple of Zeus Hellanios. From a distance one can discern the broad, grand staircase next to a Hellenistic wall. On the upper part of the staircase to the left, is the Byzantine church of the Taxiarches, the archangels, which used to be the cathedral church of a monastery. The ruins of the monk’s cells can still be seen around the church. The wall was most probably built in order to fill it in so as to create a large, flat, square area upon which the sanctuary of Zeus Hellanios was built. Tradition says that no rain fell on Aegian for many years, and the island suffered greatly. Aiakos, the mythical king of Aegina and the son of the great God Zeus, was advised by the oracle at Delphi to plead with his father to bring rain. His plea was heard and in order to thank Zeus, Aiakos built this temple in the honor of Zeus and established his cult here. Today from the south east corner of this large terrace, and beneath many tall rocks, we can see the foundations of a large structure and the bases of three rows of columns, which supported the roof. It is likely that this structure acted as a hostel for pilgrims. Further up, at a distance from the terrace, there are two wells within the rocks and the large stones, which were most likely created to serve the needs of the pilgrims. These wells, most likely fed by some spring, even today contain a little stagnant water, which is not, however drinkable.

The village of Portes: Portes is a beautiful Greek fishing village located on the east side of Aegina. The inhabitants of the village live mainly on fishing and tourism. The landscape and the wild beauty attracts visitors. It is said that Portes suffered from the activities of the pirate Barvarossa, so they built houses without windows, only with doors (portes or πόρτες in Greek) which is the origin of the name of the village. A second explanation is that the name Portes comes from the word porto (i.e. port) since the village has a port from which volcanic material, named Mafropetres, were loaded into ships that sailed to Crete. There are fishing areas at Kavos Antoni. The area is ideal for scuba diving and underwater fishing. The motorway ends at Portes. The most common way to go to Portes is to take the path to the left, leaving Ayia Marina and going for Alones. The same applies if coming from Alones, turning right. The road connecting with Anitsaio Portes can also be used. Another possibility is taking the exit from Agia Marina towards the Alones, and turning left on the road to the Portes.

Pacheia Rachi: The road ‘Faneromenis street’ begins at the old prisons of Aegina and at first travels parallel with the coastal road. It turns left to Pacheia Rachi before meeting with the coastal road. The village of Pacheia Rachi, which looks out over the sea and the plain, soon appears. The belfry and blue dome of the church stand out. Just beyond the village are the new facilities for the Center of the care of wild animals and birds, which is being relocated here from the former prisons of Aegina. Every year, the center takes care of many wounded (mainly by hunters) and sick wild animals and birds. The center is a very commendable effort by a group of young people whose aim is to care for these animals and then to return them to their natural environment.

Angistri island: Angistri lies around 3,5 nautical miles to the west of Aegina, and 22 nautical miles south-west of Piraeus. It has an area of 13 square kilometers, the largest part of which is covered in pine forests, olive groves, almond and fig trees. The ferry- boats coming from Aegina and Piraeus moor at Skala, the natural harbor on the north east coast of the island. This is also where most people come, there are many taverns and hotels to serve the needs of visitors. The large, brilliant white church of the Ayioi Anargiri, which dominates the port and is visible from quite a distance away is impressive. The church celebrates its feast day on July 1st, when there is a big fair on the island of Angistri.

5. Villages and settlements on Aegina

Aegina town in Greece
Aegina town in Greece

The main town of Aegina

As soon as the boat passes the light house and the archaeological site of Kolonas, on the north west coast of the island, then the town and the port of Aegina suddenly appear. The town clambering up green hills, with a long row of two and three story houses in front of the dock. A crowd of all kinds of yachts and boats painted in different colors moored at the jetties rounds of this pretty picture. The brilliant-white church of Ayios Nikolaos Thalassinou stands out at the entrance to the port, on a wide jetty to the right. This church, with its two domes, is reminiscent of the Cyclades and is, we could say, the ‘trademark’ of Aegina. To the right, another jetty, narrower than the first, starts from the church of Panayitsa, the imposing church on the right end of the port. This jetty terminates at the kiosk of the Nautical circle, opposite the church of Ayios Nikolaos. This port here, where the two jetties meet, is the entrance to the port. The port of Aegina is wide, built on the site of the ancient commercial port. The ancient military harbor, as we shall see, is further to the north. On the eastern side of the port there is another mole, where ferryboats and speed boats dock. This point is dominated by the large mansion of Voyiatzis, which has been described as a work of art, as have many other buildings. Opposite ‘the Voyiatzis’ mansion, in the shadow of some large trees, is the square with the taxi and one-horse carriage rank. These are the carriages drawn along by one horse, dressed in multi-colored costume.

These carriages are the traditional means of transport, a means which fits perfectly with the layout of the town and adds to its charm. Many people prefer the carriages to the taxis. Opposite the taxi rank is Eleftherias Square, near which is the mansion of Kanaris.

A walk along the waterfront is a delight. The wide coastal road, with much space for pedestrians to walk next to the sea, runs in both directions for wheeled vehicles, and for this reason there is a small dividing lane in the center. On the side of the sea, the old buildings stand in a row with cafes, patisseries and shops on the ground floors, all competing with each other as to which is the most delightful. All have canopies laid out in front to protect the patrons from the sun, as well as the goods which are displayed on the pavement. Of course, among all these goods is the Aegina pistachio, the celebrated local produce, which only in Aegina do they know how to produce so well. Packaged in cellophane so as to protect the contents, it stands out either on its own or among the other products.

Somewhere in the middle of the port on the main road is the elegant neoclassical Town Hall building. Opposite this, in front of the sea, a unique, one might say, sight draws the attention of the visitor. This is an improvised fruit market set up on the caiques, which are loaded with various tasty fruits. Many of their crates are placed one next to the other on the dock, an extension of those already in the caiques.

Kypseli – Souvala – Vaia

This route mainly covers the northern edge of the island, which is the most densely-populated. From the house of Kazantzakis and the Kapralos Museum the road continues for Souvala. This is the quickest route from the town of Aegina, and goes to Souvala via Kypseli, the island’s second-largest town which is almost merged with the capital.

The brilliant-white old domed church of Ayios Moulos can be seen from afar between this road and the coastal one, set on a verdant height.

The large, pretty square of Kypseli, dominated by the beautiful church of the Evangelismos (when tie Archangel Gabriel told Mary that she was going to give birth to the Son of God), is about 4 km. from the town of Aegina. The road continues for the village of Vathy and then descends to reach, after another 4 km., Souvala, the harbor of Vathy and the island’s second port. Souvala is known for its warm springs which can help with arthritis, rheumatism skin problems and gynecological problems. It is also a tourist center and there are regular direct connections with Piraeus. The large docks, with the fishermen’s nets spread out and the plethora of fishing and tourist boats impress. There are hotels, and many apartments and rented rooms to meet the needs of visitors.

A very interesting trip can be made from Souvala. This goes up to Palaiochora and the Monastery of Ayios Nektarios, and meets the central arterial road from Aegina through Aphaia and Ayia Marina, which we shall read more about below. The coastal road continues in an easterly direction and passes alongside the luscious – green Ayii, to reach, after 3,5 kilometers, Vaia, is yet another small tourist resort, smaller than Souvala, with a pretty little port. From Vaia, as from Souvala, a road rises towards Mesargos and towards the central arterial road of Aegina – Aphaia – and Ayia Marina.

Ayios Nektarios Monastery

This route is the first section of the one of the largest and most important routes throughout the island. You can start from Aphaias Street, which begins at the center of the port and which is the second parallel road with the port. You can also start on this route from other roads further to the south, which all finally meet up with Aphaias Street.

The road cuts across the town of Aegina and continues in an easterly direction towards the island’s hinterland. The houses become sparser and sparser, to be replaced by fields with beautiful country churches and lots of greenery. The nature here is serene, with nothing out of the ordinary, and the smooth lines of the mountains create an atmosphere of calm. Yet, the first surprise comes after a distance of about 5.5 km. An imposing church with two tall belfries and four rows of windows with red arches, suddenly appears on the left of the road. This is Ayios Nektarios, a new church built below the Monastery of Ayios Nektarios, the architecture of which is reminiscent of that of Ayia Sophia in Constantinople. This nunnery the entrance to which is on the road for Souvala and very near to the crossing with the Aegina-Aphai arterial route, was built at the beginning of the 20th century on the site of a small Byzantine monastery dedicated to the Zoodochos Pigi (life-giving source) by the Bishop of Pentapoli Nektarios. Ayios Nektarios passed the last years of his life in the monastery, carrying out a great philanthropic work and gaining the admiration and adoration of the faithful, who flocked to the monastery to meet him. Many still talk about his generosity and his ability to cure people suffering from incurable diseases. Ayios Nektarios died in 1920 and was buried in the monastery. He was canonized in 1961. From then on the monastery, which had been known as the Monastery of Ayios Theodoros, was renamed the Monastery of Ayios Nektarios. The Saint’s memory is celebrated on 9th of November, when thousands of faithful gather at the monastery, having come from all parts of Greece.

On the right of the road which goes from the church of Ayios Nektarios to Souvala, and before the entrance to the Monastery, is the small, brilliant-white nunnery of Ayia Aikaterini, surrounded by vegetation, the tall cypress trees standing out. This same road, as it ascends, winds around a rocky hill on its right. Some grey-yellow buildings can be seen scattered around on this hill. These are the approximately 35 of the many churches that existed in Palaiochora (tradition says there were 365) which remain standing. Around 20 of these still have some fine wall-paintings preserved.

Palaiochora

Palaiochora is another Mystras. It began to be built in 896 after a fierce raid by Saracene pirates on the coastal town of Aegina. Centuries later it became the capital of the island, to be abandoned at the beginning of the 19th century when the inhabitants slowly began to return to the sea and rebuild the new Aegina.

The ruins of Palaiochora are approached from a pass in the hills, there where the ascent of the road towards Souvala ends. At this point is the church Stavros, the first church which the visitor to Palaiochora will meet.

From here the footpaths which follow the old paved roads lead to the old Byzantine churches, such as Panayia Yiannouli and Ayios Georgios tht Catholic. During the period of Catalan rule this church belonged to the Catholics, but was later again restored to the Orthodox. Other churches include Episkopi, the metropolitan church of Palaiochora, in which the Bishop of Aegina Dionysius, later saint of Zakynthos, officiated (his is preserved next to the church), the Taxiarchis (Archangel), a cruciform church, the Ayii Theodori etc.

Chrysoleontissa Monastery

After Episkopi, a diversion to the left from the main path leads, after an uphill walk for fifteen minutes, to the Kastro, the castle, built by the Venetians in the 17th century. At the peak there a preserved two small churches, built next to each other. These are Ayios Georgios and Ayios Dimitios. There are the ruins of walls, houses and wells on Kastro, and the view from here, especially towards the beach of Souvala, is exceptional.

After the visit Palaiochora, you can continue yi route on the main road towards Aphaia and Ayia Marina, or go in a northerly direction towards Souvala. There is yet another road in a southerly direction, leading from the new church of Ayios Nektarios in the hamlet of Kontos. This road is two kilometers long and provides the opportunity for, visit to the important Monastery of the Chrysoleontissa. The monastery is located in the center of the island, and it dominates from high i on the luscious-green mountain slopes. The road terminates at a mountain range, from which point can reach the monastery after a walk of about fifteen minutes.

The monastery, with tail fortress-like walls, was built at the beginning of the 17th century so that old monastery at Leonti on the north coast of the island could be moved to a safer place and esa from the relentless pirate raids. It is a large two-story building with a courtyard in the center. In the courtyard there is a church and, next to it, a tall three-story tower. The church is newer and was built on the site of the older one, which was destroyed in a fire. The icon of Panayia (the Virgin Mary) is well – worth seeing. The Aeginitans all bow with respect to this icon. The church’s iconostasis and wall-paintings are also of interest. The Monastery, which celebrates its feast day on 15 August, when the island’s largest festival takes place, converted in 1935 from a male monastery to a female nunnery.

Mesagros – Aphaia – Ayia Marina

The road from Ayios Nektarios leads in an easterly direction, nine miles from the town of Aegina, to Mesagros, a large hamlet with a few houses and whose inhabitants work in agriculture. The surrounding area has quite a bit of vegetation, including, of course, plenty of pistachios.

After Mesagros begins the ascent up a beautiful pine-clad hill, at the top of which is one of the most beautiful temples of ancient Greece, the Temple of Aphaia. It was not by chance that this spot was chosen as the location of the temple. The panoramic view from here over the charming gulf of Ayia Marina is outstanding. Moreover, traces of a later Neolithic (3000 BC) settlement have been found. This settlement and Kolona are the oldest settlements on the island.

Before the temple that we see today was built, two smaller temples had been constructed. The first was built in around 600 BC and only a small section of its foundations survive. Only the altar survives from the second temple. The third temple to have been built, the one we see today, is an exceptional example of late archaic architecture. It is in the Doric order and was built with local limestone in around 500 BC. It had six columns on the short sides and twelve on the long sides.

Twenty of these columns survive today, whilst in the cellar (the main area of the temple) there were two internal colonnades parallel to the main colonnades, with five columns each. There was a second row of five smaller columns above, built in such a way as to form a stoa, in the form of a raised section around the three sides of the temple. The decoration on both the exterior as well as the interior was exceptional. What gave the temple its greatest splendor, however, were its famous pediment sculptures. Unfortunately, however, these have suffered a similar fate to those of the Parthenon.

In 1811 the German Baron von Hallerstein and the English architect Cockerell, who discovered the sculptures after excavation, transported them to Zakynthos, which was then under British rule, and from there they went to Italy. They were then bought in an auction by Ludwig I, King of Bavaria, father of the future King of Greece Otto, who took them to the Glypthotek in Munich, where they remain. These sculptures include 16 statues carved from Parian marble and many other pieces.

These sculptures formed scenes from the Trojan War, with the goddess Athena as the central figure in both the pediments. As a result, it was initially believed that the temple had been built in honor of Athena. During excavations carried out much later (in 1901), the German archaeologist Furtwangler discovered an ancient description with the name of Aphaia. She was a local goddess, and tradition associates her with the Cretan Britomartis. According to the myth, Britomartis was the daughter of Zeus and half-sister of Artemis, who loved her greatly and took her hunting with her. Minos fell madly in love with Britomartis, and she sought refuge in the sea. As she jumped into the waters, her foot was caught up in the nets of some fishermen, who transported her to Aegina. Her misfortunes were not to end here, though, as a fisherman tried to rape her. Artemis then intervened, and made Britomartis invisible and took her into the island’s woods. In this way, then, Britomartis became ‘aphanis,’ or invisible. In the dialect of the time, this was pronounced ‘aphaia.’

A section of the eastern pediment was destroyed a few years after the erection of the building. The shattered statues were buried, as was customary, and new ones put in their place. Thankfully, Furtwangler was able to uncover them, so that the National Archaeological Museum in Athens could also have a piece, even a little one, of the famous sculptures of the Temple of Aphaia.

Around the temple there are the remains of various buildings. Entrance to the archaeological site is through a small gateway. Straight ahead to the right are the ruins of the priests’ houses and immediately after them are the baths. There follow the great gate and the path taken by the procession, beginning from the altar and reaching the entrance to the temple, which is in its east side. The temple was divided, as was the rule, into the pronaos, the cellar – the main area of the temple which housed the goddess’s statue – and the opisthodomos at the back.

The Temple of Aphaia is connected with the port of Aegina, 11.5 km. away, by coaches which depart from Ayia Marina. The archaeological site is open every day, except Mondays, from 8:30 to 17:00.

From Aphaia, the road descends with many bends, to reach the pretty gulf of Ayia Marina after 4 kilometers. This was once a fishing village with two or three taverns, but has today grown, thanks to its wonderful sands and dense pine forest, into a large tourist center which in the summer bustles with life. Villas, hotels, restaurants, bars, an organised beach with facilities for water sports, and anything else the visitor could ask for, they will surely find in this resort.

The little harbor is full of boats small and large, whilst in the summer there are direct connections with Piraeus in small boats. From Ayia Marina the road, following the coast, continues on to the fishing port of Portes. The return journey to the town of Aegina can be made through the settlement of Alones, with its small villas and restaurants, via a road which meets the main road at Mesagros, bypassing Aphaia.

Pacheia Rachi – Temple of Zeus Hellanios – Portes

This is another route of great interest, centering on an archaeological site that is directly connected with the mythology and history of Aegina. This route crosses the island from north-west to south-east, passing alongside Oros, Aegina’s highest mountain. The road – Faneromenis Street – begins at the old prisons of Aegina and at first travels parallel with the coastal road. It turns left to Pacheia Rachi before meeting with the coastal road.

As this road ascends the view on the right over the sea becomes all the more beautiful. At first you can see the town of Aegina in the distance as it is left behind, whilst to the left is Angistri, luscious green and also in the distance. The islet of Moni soon appears before the peninsula of Methana. A little further to the left, like a white tine on a narrow strip of land which continues into the sea, is picturesque Perdika. The row of white houses on the beach down below belong to the village of Marathon. We shall have the chance to see all these from closer up on the last leg of our journey around the island.

The village of Pacheia Rachi, which looks out over the sea and the plain, soon appears. The belfry and blue dome of the church stand out. Just beyond the village are the new facilities of the Center for the Care of Wild Animals and Birds, which is being relocated here from the former prisons of Aegina. Every year the Center takes care of many wounded (mainly by hunters) and sick wild animals and birds. The Center is a very commendable effort by a group of young people whose aim is to care for these animals and then to return them to their natural environment.

Beyond the Center, a dirt road to the right leads to Sfyricthres, and the archaeological site with the sanctuary of Zeus Hellanios. From a distance one can discern the broad, grand stone staircase next to a Hellenistic wall.

On the upper part of the staircase, to the left, is the Byzantine church of the Taxiarches, the Archangels, which used to be the cathedral church of a monastery. The ruins of the monks’ cells can still be seen round about the church.

The wall was most probably built in order to fill it in so as to create a large, flat, square area upon which the sanctuary of Zeus Hellanios was built.

Tradition has it that no rain fell on Aegina for many years, and the island suffered greatly. Aiakos, the mythical King of Aegina and son of Zeus, was advised by the oracle at Delphi to plead with his father to bring rainfall. His plea was heard and, in order to thank Zeus, Aiakos built this temple in the god’s honor and established his cult here.

Today, from the south-east corner of this large terrace, and beneath some tall rocks, we can see the foundations of a large structure and the bases of three rows of columns, which supported the roof. It is likely that this structure acted as a hostel for pilgrims. Further up, at a little distance from the terrace, there are two wells within the rocks and the large stones, which most likely were also created to serve the needs of the pilgrims. These wells, most likely fed by some spring, even today contain a little stagnant water, which is not, however, drinkable.

Above the temple stands the mountain with the ancient name of Oros, and which is directly associated with the cult of Zeus on the island. It has the shape of a cone and is covered in rocks and stones. The footpath leading up to its peak (532 m), the tallest in Aegina, is to the west. Traces of buildings have been found on the peak, and it was initially believed that they were part of the sanctuary of Zeus Hellanios. This is not the case, however, as these buildings date to the 13th century BC whilst it appears that the Dorians brought the cult of Zeus to Aegina in around 1000 BC can still be seen round about the church.

The village of Pacheia Rachi.

The view of the island and the whole of the Argosaronic from the peak of Mt Oros, today known as Profitis llias, is splendid. The small, brilliant-white church which stands here is not dedicated, as is usually the case, to the Prophet Bias but to the Analapsi, the Ascension of Christ.

From the crossing with the dirt road that leads to the sanctuary of Zeus Hellanios, the central road continues towards the east and soon starts to descend down to the sea, with many bends. There is much vegetation along this route, mainly pine and olive trees. A little house to the right of the road catches the eye. This is, in fact, an azure, two-storey mill with a conical blue roof. At the end of the road lies the isolated and serene fishing village of Fortes, with its few houses and little tavern built on a rise. A beautiful pebbly beach stretches out to the right, whilst to the left, next to the road which leads to the north, is the small artificial harbor which protects the boats in the area.

This same road continues alongside the pretty villages, finally ending up at Ayia Marina, which we discussed in the previous route.

Marathon – Perdika

The route taken to reach Perdika is idyllic and peaceful, not at all like the others we have covered so far. The road, which follows the coast with almost no bends at all, proceeds alongside the neoclassical villas near to the port of Faros. From here on, it continues alongside the coast of the gulf of Marathon. This is the open gulf in which the Greek war ships gathered after their victory at Salamis in order to divide the spoils. It is also the gulf at which Capodistrias, the first governor of Greece after the Revolution of 1821, disembarked in order to set up his first government. The village of Marathon appears after a total of 4 kilometers from the port of Aegina. Marathon has an organized beach and has developed into a tourist resort. From here on, the houses become fewer and fewer. There is a small strip of land in between the road and the coast, which has a fair covering of greenery. Eucalyptus trees, with their tall and slender trunks, bushes, reeds, and behind all this lies the sea, peaceful, alight, with an amazing blue color, the shades of which fluctuate as the distance from the coast increases.

Further in the distance, on a bare, long and narrow peninsula, the white houses of Perdika shine in the light of the sun. Moni, the conical-shaped islet, stands out to the right, and behind all this, the sharp dark grey-blue peaks of the Methana mountain range.

A little before Perdika, the organized beach of Aiginitissa, with its beautiful sands and green surroundings, most definitely attracts the visitor’s eye. At this point the road ascends, now entering the infertile earth of Perdika. Yet, even in this treeless place, which is watered on both sides by the sea, a surprise awaits the visitor. On the southern side of the peninsula there is a charming fishing village which, despite its tourist development, has managed to preserve all the features of the Aegean Sea which characterized it of old. Its port, full of colorful fishing caiques and other boats, buzzes with life. The raised road above the port, with the taverns all in a row on one side and the little tables set up along the seafront on the other, remains just as it was many years ago. A few small hotels and rented rooms have, of course, now been added. The place has been noticeably developed, the large church of Ayios Sozos, which celebrates its feast day on 7 September with a large festival in the village, built. Yet, the village’s charm is still the same. The visitor coming from the town of Aegina (9 km. away) will enjoy walking through the village lanes, with their old houses and gardens full of flowers, as well as trying some fresh fish, something never absent from Perdika.

The visitor can even, if it is the right season, visit the islet of Moni opposite, and enjoy a wonderful swim in its fantastically-clean waters. It is only a short distance away, and there are regular connections throughout the summer months.

You disembark at a small, organized sandy beach on a cove on the north coast of the islet. A beautiful forest stretches out beyond the bead clambering up the slope of a steep mountain am. covering almost the whole of the northern area of the Moni. The rest of the islet is bare and craggy, wit rocks at its highest point, which tapers off into a cone. The island belongs to the Greek Travelers Club, and rare species of animals are nurtured on it, such as the chamois goat-antelope (the Cretan kirki) and peacocks.

From Perdika, a relatively new road leading to the east goes to the village of Sfentouri, on the north of the slope of Mt Oros (Profitis llias).

6. The history and mythology of Aegina

travel to Aegina island in Greece
travel to Aegina island in Greece

The different findings in the area of Kolona as  well as other areas show that the first inhabitants in Aegina appeared in the  second half of the 4th millennium b.c. (3500 – 3000 b.c.).  The first inhabitants on the island of Aegina came from Peloponnisos. Other settled at Lofo of Kolona and they made a living from shipping as they had a port at the bay of Karadima and others settled at Mesagro and they made a  living from farming.

The colonization of the island continued with the Aegians during the early age  of Copper (2500-2000 b.c.). They settled in Kolona and they were occupied with shipping and trade. During the period of 2000-16000 BC, the people of Aegina started to be very good in trading and shipping.

Around 1400-1300 BC, the Mirmidones settled down in the area of Oros. They came from Thessalia and they set up the Temple of Zeus.

About 950 BC, the Dorians came to the island and around the 7th century, Aegina along with Poros and five other cities take part in the  Amphictyony of Kalayrias. The Amphictyony was at first religious and then it became a political federation. Members of the Amphictyony were Ermioni,  Poros, Epidayros, Aegina, Prasies, Athens and Orxomenos. The Amphictyony helped solve differences that they might have had between them  as well as commercial transactions.

From the last prehistoric years up to the 5th century b.c., it reached its  heyday.

From 734 to 459 BC. Aegina could compete with big cities in Mikra Asia that  were based on trade. Due to these commercial transactions, in 650 BC. the people of Aegina made their  own silver coins.  On one side of the coins was the image of a turtle which was a characteristic  for God Poseidon.  During the 6th century b.c., Aegina had law-courts and a doctor.

In Kolona, there were beautiful houses, public buildings, churches and the town was very well fortified. It became the Acropolis of the island surrounded with strong walls.  It had a military port and a commercial port and its population consisted of  40.000 citizens that they were free and 400.000 slaves.

Around 500 BC. Aegina monopolized in the trade of the East Mediterranean and  Eyxinos Pontos and it reached the highest point in power and wealth.

In 480 BC. they took part in the naval battle in Salamina along with the other  Greeks against the Persians.

The people of Aegina even though they were opposed to the people of Athens  because their fleet was very powerful and because they had changed their policy  towards them, they stood by the Greeks and with the Athenians they won the  naval battle in Salamina.  The people of Aegina didn’t take advantage of the naval battle in Salamina nor did they increase their power.

Aegina, which was on friendly terms with Sparti, allied with Korinthos in 459 b.c.

The Athenians did not like this and attacked the fleet of Aegina and won the battle. They besieged and took over the town in a few months. The Athenians forced Aegina to pull down the walls, to hand over its ships and  the people of Aegina were obliged to pay taxes.

During the war in Peloponnisos (431-404 b.c.) the Athenians sent off to Peloponnesians the people of Aegina and they brought Athenians to the island.  When the war ended, Lissandros brought back the people of Aegina to their land.  After Alexandro’s death, Aegina belonged to the Axaiki Simpoliteia.  The fleet of King of Pergamos and the Romans’ fleet besieged, won and took over the city which they pillaged and destroyed. Late, around 133 b.c. Pergamos bequeathed Aegina to the Romans who lead the island to decline. Findings that were left, were taken from Aegina.

After 400 a.d. many of the people in Peloponnisos went to Aegina to escape from  the Gothians and the Evoulians raids. The population increased, the city was rebuilt and the trade was revived. Due to its peculiar territory, the biggest part of Aegina suffered many raids.

In the 6th century there was the raid from the Avarous and then during the 9th century a.d. the raid that was carried out by the Sarakinon pirates which forced the inhabitants to leave and go to the coastal regions, where they built  Palaioxora.

When the crusaders took over Konstantinoupolis (1204), Aegina was given to the Venetians.

In 1537 a.d. the Turks declared war against Venice and the leader of the  Turkish fleet called Varvarosa literally destroyed and burned Aegina. Only a few churches in Palaioxora were managed to be saved. The first Turkish domination lasted from 1540 to 1687 a.d. Later on, the Venetians took back Aegina, the trade was revived and the economy improved.

From 1715 to 1821, there is the second Turkish domination till the revolution in 1821 in which Aegina played an important role.  The people of Aegina fought at the Xani of Gravias, in the battle of the Saint Mount, in Faliro and with Faviero they helped supply Acropolis

In 1828 it became the first capital of  Greece and Jonh Kapodistrias was the first governor.

In 1829 the capital was transferred to Nafplio and the population of Aegina was decreased significantly.

So Aegina, after having temporary rise during the period when it was the capital, it came back to the peaceful life of a provincial city.

Aegina mythology Greece
Aegina mythology Greece

AEGINA IN GREEK MYHTOLOGY

Aegina has a special place in Greek mythology as it has been said that the generation of the heroes of the Trojan War began from Aegina. The island of Aegina has supposed to have taken its name from the most beautiful of the twenty daughters of the river God Asopos. Zeus, who was first among the gods, fell in love with this girl, who was called Aegina. He secretly kidnapped her from her father and led her to the then deserted Saronic island of Oinoni or Oinopia (the island of wine, oinos = wine in Greek). Here they had Aiakos together. As soon as Aiakos became king, he changed the name of the island into Aegina so to honor his mother. But he found himself on an island that did not have a single soul, and so he asked his father Zeus to help him with this matter. Zeus transformed the ants into human beings and granted them to his son Aiakos. The people that lived on the island were called Myrmidons, a name reminiscent of the word ‘ mirmigkia which means ants in Greek’.

Aiakos had two sons with Endeis, Peleus and Telamon, and later with Psamanthi, Phokos. Aiakos’ eldest sons were jealous of their half brother, who was better at athletic competitions than they were. One day in a stone throwing contest, the two elder brothers killed their youngest brother by throwing a large stone at him. Then they immediately left the island, shocked and remorseful at their action. Peleus went to Thessaly and Telemon went to the neighboring island of Salamis, from where he desperately tried to contact his father and seek his forgiveness. Aiakos remained unrelenting and did not permit his son to ever return to the island. For this reason, he gained the respect and admiration of the people and the gods, who made him a judge of the dead in Hades, along with Minos and Rhadamanthys.

This highly interesting section of the Greek mythology and the island of Aegina can be bought to a close with the birth of the two heroes of the Trojan War: Achilles, the son of Peleus and Thetis and Ajax, the son of Telemon and Eriboea.

7. Rent a car on Aegina

Get to know the whole island of Aegina with the most pleasant and comfortable way – by renting a car or moped. At you own pace and time, you can explore every corner of the island, admire the sights, swim at pristine beaches, visit the monasteries and the beautiful, traditional villages. All this with the comfort and independence that your own vehicle provides you with. Our agencies offer: bikes for children, to family cars and minibuses – we are sure that one of our agencies will find the best choice for you at the best price.

Drive rentals on Aegina island: Website, email: driverentalsaegine@gmail.com, telephone number: +30 22970 24242

8. Useful information about Aegina island

map of Aegina in Greece
map of Aegina Greece

Aegina, in the center of the Argosaronic, immediately conquers the eye of the visitor. One can see this for oneself as soon as one confronts its enchanting port, with its crowd of colorful boats and the old houses along the pier. A walk around the town will lead to many historical buildings dating from the 19th century. Among them is the house of Capodistrias, the first Governor of Greece after the War of Independence in 1821. It has remained standing to remind us that Aegina was for two years the temporary capital city of Greece, before it was officially installed in Nafplion. A stroll near the port will bring the visitor to the archaeological site of Kolonas. Here where the ancient city was built, when Aegina, with its powerful fleet, ruled the seas, long before Athens began to make its presence felt. Once the visitor has completed his or her trip around the town of Aegina, then the tour of the island will begin. At the foot of Oros, the tallest mountain on Aegina, he or she will ‘discover’ the sanctuary of Zeus Hellanios founded, according to the myth, by Aiakos, son of Zeus and grandfather of the heroes of the Trojan War Achilles and Ajax. The visitor will discover the island’s beautiful sands as he or she follows the coastal road southwards in the direction of the pretty fishing village of Perdikas. And he or she will be able to enjoy the indented coastline and the luscious-green northern coasts when travelling towards Souvala, the island’s second port. The route that will remain unforgettable, though, is the one which passes the Monastery of Ayios Nektarios and the medieval village of Palaiochora, to arrive at the famous Temple of Aphaia. Here, on a verdant hill on the north-eastern edge of the island, one can marvel at the temple that is considered to be the forerunner of the Parthenon. The route ends below at the bay of Ayia Marina (St Marina), the island’s largest summer resort with its beautiful sandy beach and calm waters. Aegina is charming, with the mildest climate in the whole of Greece, many interesting sights and very good tourism facilities, offering the visitor a pleasant and eventful stay. And it has one further great advantage: it is only one hour by boat from the port of Piraeus.

Geography of Aegina: Aegina is the second largest island in the Argosaronic – the largest being Salamis -and it is located almost in the center of the Saronic Gulf. It has an area of 85 square kilometers, a coastline of 57 kilometers, and is 16 nautical miles from Piraeus. The island has over 11,000 permanent residents, over half of whom live in the town of Aegina. The luscious-green little island of Angistri is 4 nautical miles to the south-west of the port of Aegina. Very close to Aegina’s south-west edge is the small picturesque islet of Moni. Local products of Aegina In the small valleys and plateaus of the island there are many areas covered in pistachio trees. The Aegina pistachio’ is famed, and is the island’s main produce. Other produce include raisins, olives and almonds. Pottery is a tradition on Aegina. The porous walls of its clay jugs – kanata, as they are known in Greek – help to keep the water cool, and they were much in demand before the appearance of electric refrigerators. Only a few people work as potters today, making not only jugs, but all kinds of ceramic products.

Morphology of Aegina: Aegina is shaped almost like an equilateral triangle, with each side having a length of nearly 12 kilometers. It has low mountain ranges, many of which are covered in pine forests. Its highest mountain is Mount Oros, also known as Profitis llias, with an altitude of 532 meters. Its eastern and southern coasts are precipitous – with the exception of the large gulf of Ayia Marina -whilst the remaining coasts are flatter, with small and large gulfs. The climate is the mildest in all of Greece, Aegina in Greek mythology Aegina has a special place in Greek mythology as it has been said that the generation of the heroes of the Trojan War began from Aegina. The island of Aegina has supposed to have taken its name from the most beautiful of the twenty daughters of the river God Asopos. Zeus, who was first among the gods, fell in love with this girl, who was called Aegina. He secretly kidnapped her from her father and led her to the then deserted Saronic island of Oinoni or Oinopia (the island of wine, oinos = wine in Greek). Here they had Aiakos together. As soon as Aiakos became king, he changed the name of the island into Aegina so to honour his mother. But he found himself on an island that did not have a single soul, and so he asked his father Zeus to help him with this matter. Zeus transformed the ants into human beings and granted them to his son Aiakos. The people that lived on the island were called Myrmidons, a name reminiscent of the word ‘ mirmigkia which means ants in Greek’. Aiakos had two sons with Endeis, Peleus and Telamon, and later with Psamanthi, Phokos. Aiakos’ eldest sons were jealous of their half brother, who was better at athletic competitions than they were. One day in a stone throwing contest, the two elder brothers killed their youngest brother by throwing a large stone at him. Then they immediately left the island, shocked and remorseful at their action. Peleus went to Thessaly and Telemon went to the neighboring island of Salamis, from where he desperately tried to contact his father and seek his forgiveness. Aiakos remained unrelenting and did not permit his son to ever return to the island. For this reason, he gained the respect and admiration of the people and the gods, who made him a judge of the dead in Hades, along with Minos and Rhadamanthys. This highly interesting section of the Greek mythology and the island of Aegina can be bought to a close with the birth of the two heroes of the Trojan War: Achilles, the son of Peleus and Thetis and Ajax, the son of Telemon and Eriboea. The history of Aegina Island The different findings in the area of Kolona as well as other areas show that the first inhabitants in Aegina appeared in the second half of the 4th millennium BC (3500 – 3000 BC). The first inhabitants on the island of Aegina came from Peloponnesus. Other settled at Lofo of Kolona and they made a living from shipping as they had a port at the bay of Karadima and others settled at Mesagro and they made a living from farming. The colonization of the island continued with the Aegians during the early age of Copper (2500-2000 BC). They settled in Kolona and they were occupied with shipping and trade. During the period of 2000-16000 BC, the people of Aegina started to be very good in trading and shipping. Around 1400-1300 BC, the Myrmidons settled down in the area of Oros. They came from Thessalia and they set up the Temple of Zeus. About 950 BC, the Dorians came to the island and around the 7th century, Aegina along with Poros and five other cities take part in the Amphitryon of Kalayrias. The Amphitryon was at first religious and then it became a political federation. Members of the Amphictyony were Ermioni, Poros, Epidayros, Aegina, Prasies, Athens and Orxomenos. The Amphictyony helped solve differences that they might have had between them as well as commercial transactions. From the last prehistoric years up to the 5th century BC, it reached its heyday. From 734 to 459 BC. Aegina could compete with big cities in Mikra Asia that were based on trade. Due to these commercial transactions, in 650 BC the people of Aegina made their own silver coins. On one side of the coins was the image of a turtle which was a characteristic for God Poseidon. During the 6th century BC, Aegina had law-courts and a doctor. In Kolona, there were beautiful houses, public buildings, churches and the town was very well fortified. It became the Acropolis of the island surrounded with strong walls. It had a military port and a commercial port and its population consisted of 40.000 citizens that they were free and 400.000 slaves. Around 500 BC Aegina monopolized in the trade of the East Mediterranean and Eyxinos Pontos and it reached the highest point in power and wealth. In 480 BC they took part in the naval battle in Salamina along with the other Greeks against the Persians. The people of Aegina even though they were opposed to the people of Athens because their fleet was very powerful and because they had changed their policy towards them, they stood by the Greeks and with the Athenians they won the naval battle in Salamina. The people of Aegina didn’t take advantage of the naval battle in Salamina nor did they increase their power. Aegina, which was on friendly terms with Sparta, allied with Korinthos in 459 BC. The Athenians did not like this and attacked the fleet of Aegina and won the battle. They besieged and took over the town in a few months. The Athenians forced Aegina to pull down the walls, to hand over its ships and the people of Aegina were obliged to pay taxes. During the war in Peloponnesus (431-404 BC) the Athenians sent off to Peloponnesians the people of Aegina and they brought Athenians to the island. When the war ended, Lissandros brought back the people of Aegina to their land. After Alexandros death, Aegina belonged to the Axaiki Simpoliteia. The fleet of King of Pergamos and the Romans’ fleet besieged won and took over the city which they pillaged and destroyed. Late, around 133 BC Pergamos bequeathed Aegina to the Romans who lead the island to decline. Findings that were left, were taken from Aegina. After 400 AD many of the people in Peloponnesus went to Aegina to escape from the Gothians and the Evoulians raids. The population increased, the city was rebuilt and the trade was revived. Due to its peculiar territory, the biggest part of Aegina suffered many raids. In the 6th century there was the raid from the Avarous and then during the 9th century AD the raid that was carried out by the Sarakinon pirates which forced the inhabitants to leave and go to the coastal regions, where they built Palaioxora. When the crusaders took over Konstantinoupolis (1204), Aegina was given to the Venetians. In 1537 AD the Turks declared war against Venice and the leader of the Turkish fleet called Varvarosa literally destroyed and burned Aegina. Only a few churches in Palaioxora were managed to be saved. The first Turkish domination lasted from 1540 to 1687 AD Later on, the Venetians took back Aegina, the trade was revived and the economy improved. From 1715 to 1821, there is the second Turkish domination till the revolution in 1821 in which Aegina played an important role. The people of Aegina fought at the Xani of Gravias, in the battle of the Saint Mount, in Faliro and with Faviero they helped supply Acropolis In 1828 it became the first capital of Greece and John Kapodistrias was the first governor. In 1829 the capital was transferred to Nafplio and the population of Aegina was decreased significantly. So Aegina, after having temporary rise during the period when it was the capital, it came back to the peaceful life of a provincial city.

YESTERDAY AND TODAY Sculpture – Architecture: When talking about yesterday and today, we should certainly mention the ancient years, which gave Aegina such a rich cultural heritage. How can we not mention that the famous Aeginetan sculptors Kallon and Onatos, once they had finished carving the famous statues on the pediments of the Temple of Aphaia, helped – or so it is said – Pheidias in carving the Parthenon sculptures. It is also said that the technique used by these sculptors was a precursor for the creation of the Parthenon and of the shift from the archaic to the classical period. This was the Aeginetan Art,’ which began in the archaic period and a leading figure of which was Smilis, a figure who is said to have been active in both Aegina and Samos and who may very well have been a mythical character. Smilis was followed by many brilliant artists, among them Kallon, creator of the west pediment of the Temple of Aphaia, and Onatos, creator of the later and finer east pediment of the Temple. Onatos was the last and also the greatest of tie artists of the Aeginetan Workshop.’ The centuries passed, the ancient city of Aegina was abandoned, and the Aeginetans created Palaiochora, another Mystra with its Byzantine churches, Palaiochora was also abandoned in the 19th century, for the capital city to be transferred once more close to the sea, on the same site as before. Of course, this new town did not have anything in common with the old. It did not have its grand public buildings; there were no temples and famous sculptures. Even so, as far as architecture goes, 19th-century Aegina was pioneering, and it was from here that the neo-classical style began. The start was made in 1828 when Aegina became the capital of liberated Greece and the first Governor, Capodistrias, assisted by Greek and foreign architects began to erect the first public buildings. The imposing building of the Orphanage, with its simple Doric design, is considered as one of the first examples of the neo-classical style, and was subsequently repeated on other buildings in the town. This style spread later to Athens, and it became the dominant architectural style for a century. We will discuss the protected neo-classical buildings of Aegina town in more detail in the next section. With the passing of time the official architecture of Aegina gave way to a popular architectural style, which on general lines can be considered as part of the broader Aegean Sea’ style, yet with its own distinct character and particularities. The white of the villages of the Aegean has been replaced by soft and warm colors, which better match the idyllic environment of the island. This combination is today most noticeable in the town and port of Aegina. Arts – Letters: During this brief journey through yesterday and today, we should mention the great contribution of Aeginetans to the arts and letters. The contribution of the distinguished sculptors H. Kapralos (who was bom in Agrinio but active in Aegina), N. Klonos and V. Antonbu; the painters F. Kappos, K. Galaris, Kontovrakis, and others; the photographer Y. Mains; the historians and folklorists P. Ireiotis and Y. Kouliakourdis; the poets N. Lievas, A. Kyriakopoulos, A. Androutsos, K. Sarantakos and others; and the female poet T. Katsimingou-Yiannouli. Occupations: The Aeginetans may love the sea, but this does not mean that they were never engaged in agriculture, something which they are still involved in. The island has many cultivated areas, the use of which during wars and especially during the last centuries of the Tourkokratia was absolutely necessary. Aegina produces mainly olives, raisons, almonds, and, of course, pistachios, the cultivation of which started 100 years ago, for it to finally become the most profitable produce. In addition to these main occupations – to which we must also add sponge-diving, which had disappeared by the mid-20th century – there were two other occupations on the island, which are also slowly disappearing. These are pottery and lace-making. The first occupation is an ancient tradition on Aegina, continuing until our days. Indeed, in the years just before the Second World War, this trade had developed to such an extent that pottery was even exported. This was when the famous Aeginetan jugs with their colourful external decoration were produced. These jugs were in great demand, not just for storing water, but also because of their porous walls through which a small amount of water could seep and keep the outside of the jug damp. When this water evaporated, then, the walls of the jug were cooled thus keeping its contents cool as well. These jugs were usually placed on the sill of an open window. The results were both quicker and better using this method, whilst the elegant jugs on the window sills would add a note of charm to the little lanes. The arrival of the electric refrigerator saw the end of the Aeginetan jugs. The kanatades’ – jugmakers – dwindled and today there remain only a few potters. And these potters no longer make jugs, but various ceramic wares to be sold to the tourists. The art of lace-making was taught to the women of Aegina around 120 years ago by a foreign lady from Western Europe. This technique was known as ‘kopaneli’ and was used to make table-cloths, doilies, centerpieces, etc. It is a finely-worked form of embroidery which demands much time and effort, and for this reason the product is quite pricey, making it difficult to sell. Perhaps this is the reason why there are only a few women still involved with ‘kopanelia’ today Customs: The passage of time and the closer relationship with Athens resulted in the local customs fading away or even dying out completely. The most important of the local customs, the wedding, however, still survives in various forms, mainly in the villages. It is a ritual which lasts for days. The wedding starts with the display of the bride’s dowry, which is sprinkled with rice. The ‘making of the bed’ then follows, and the giving of gifts accompanied by songs and best wishes for the bride and the groom. The church service usually takes place on a Sunday, with the wedding feast in the evening, with musical instruments, dance and song. A feast which in the old days lasted for three days. The folk instruments which were used years ago at all the feasts and festivals were the violin, the lute and the dulcimer, whilst most of the songs that were heard were rhyming couplets, the lyric depending on the occasion. We have wedding songs such as the following: “I’ll sing you one song on the cherry tree May the couple just brought together live long, grow old.” We also have Easter carnival songs, feast songs, and songs of the sea which the Aeginetans call ‘voyes’ and which are of especial interest. These were the songs that were used to synchronise the pace at which oars were rowed, before they were replaced by engines or the rhythm of the steps of the fishermen as they hauled at the trawl nets. So, we have the voya of the oar and the voya of the trawl net, such as this one by Yiannis Yiannitsaris: ‘Yia lesa, yia lesa, let the trawl come in. Yia lesa and it’s getting dark And the cauldron is boiling.” As for the dances of Aegina, they are similar to other island dances, such as the group dance of the syrtos (especially ‘The mountains of Palaiochora’) and the ballo, danced by couples, as well as other dances, such as the sousta and the kalamatianos. The island’s largest festival is on 15 August at the Monastery of the Chrysoleontissa, which attracts huge crowds. The largest religious gathering takes place on 9 November at the Monastery of Ayios Nektarios, when celebrations take place in memory of the Saint. This festival attracts the faithful not just from the island but from all over Greece. The town of Aegina As soon as the boat passes the light house and the archaeological site of Kolonas, on the North West coast of the island, then the town and the port of Aegina suddenly appear. The town clambering up green hills, with a long row of two and three storey houses in front of the dock. A crowd of all kinds of yachts and boats painted in different colours moored at the jetties rounds of this pretty picture. The brilliant-white church of Ayios Nikolaos Thalassinou stands out at the entrance to the port, on a wide jetty to the right. This church, with its two domes, is reminiscent of the Cyclades and is, we could say, the ‘trademark’ of Aegina. To the right, another jetty, narrower than the first, starts from the church of Panayitsa, the imposing church on the right end of the port. This jetty terminates at the kiosk of the nautical circle, opposite the church of Ayios Nikolaos. This port here, where the two jetties meet, is the entrance to the port. The port of Aegina is wide, built on the site of the ancient commercial port. The ancient military harbour, as we shall see, is further to the north. On the eastern side of the port there is another mole, where ferryboats and speed boats dock. This point is dominated by the large mansion of Voyiatzis, which has been described as a work of art, as have many other buildings. Opposite ‘the Voyiatzis’ mansion, in the shadow of some large trees, is the square with the taxi and one-horse carriage rank. These are the carriages drawn along by one horse, dressed in multicoloured costume. These carriages are the traditional means of transport, a means which fits perfectly with the layout of the town and adds to its charm. Many people prefer the carriages to the taxis. Opposite the taxi rank is Eleftherias Square, near which is the mansion of Kanaris. A walk along the waterfront is a delight. The wide coastal road, with much space for pedestrians to walk next to the sea, runs in both directions for wheeled vehicles, and for this reason there is a small dividing lane in the centre. On the side of the sea, the old buildings stand in a row with cafes, patisseries and shops on the ground floors, all competing with each other as to which is the most delightful. All have canopies laid out in front to protect the patrons from the sun, as well as the goods which are displayed on the pavement. Of course, among all these goods is the Aegina pistachio, the celebrated local produce, which only in Aegina do they know how to produce so well. Packaged in cellophane so as to protect the contents, it stands out either on its own or among the other products. Somewhere in the middle of the port on the main road is the elegant neo-classical Town Hall building. Opposite this, in front of the sea, a unique, one might say, sight draws the attention of the visitor. This is an improvised fruit market set up on the caiques, which are loaded with various tasty fruits. Many of their crates are placed one next to the other on the dock, an extension of those already in the caiques. The south edge of the port is dominated, as we said, by the church of the Panayitsa. Next to it, inside a small park, is a marble statue of Capodistrias, the’, first Governor of Greece after the Revolution of 1821. The rest of the town, particularly the centre, is also of great interest. Most of the taverns are to be found on the first road parallel to the port, and on the second road parallel with Aphaias Street, an extension of Spyridon Roidis Street. The Folk Museum is also here, as well as the few remaining pottery shops, which sold the traditional clay jugs. Those which kept the water cool in the days when there were no fridges. Today, instead of jugs, they sell various ceramic wares. Proceeding further into the town, we encounter the Tower of Markellos in an open space. This is a medieval building which was used by the first Greek government after the Revolution of 1821. Near this Tower there is yet another building, of great importance for Modern Greek history. This is the Government House, the house of Capodistrias, the first Governor of a free Greece, from which he governed the country for two years after its independence, when Aegina was the temporary capital of Greece. Next to the house of Capodistrias is the Public Library. A little to the south is the Metropolitan Church, an old church with three red domes and three large arches over its facade, upon which the roof of the forecourt is supported. To the south-west of the center of the town, behind a football pitch, there stands a large building. This is the orphanage, built during Capodistrias’ rule, which functioned both as a home and a school for orphans. Public services were housed in this building, and it was then converted into a prison, which later closed. So, today it stands empty, awaiting its next use. Faneromenis Street, which passes along the Orphanage, proceeds towards the Monastery of the Faneromeni, where there is a semi-dilapidated 13th-century church and two smaller churches. To the south of the city, near the cemetery, there is another 19th-century mansion. This belonged to Harilaos Trikoupis, one of the great Greek prime ministers of the later 19th century. The cathedral church of the Ayii Theodorii (SS Theodore), the so-called ‘Beautiful Church,’ is located to the east of the town, near the neighborhood of the Ayii Asomati and at a distance of around 2 km. from the port. It is perhaps the most important surviving church of Aegina, built in the late 13th century. Its interior is full of well-preserved wall paintings. After Eleftherias Square, the coastal road proceeds in a north-west direction and passes the coast of Avra. Some say that this is where the military harbour of ancient Aegina was, although according to others it was located at the next bay. The ancient military harbor was excellently organized, with very good installations which it is said could hold as many as sixty triremes. Immediately after this coast and behind a small park is the hill with the archaeological site of Kolonas and the Museum (see below). The sandy beach of Kolonas stretches out behind the archaeological site, and this beach is the most busy of all those near the town. The coastal road continues to the neighborhood of Plakakia, with its beautiful villas, among which stand out the Zaimis Tower and the Benizelos house within a large garden with palm trees. After the Zaimis Tower the road continues along the north-west edge of Aegina, with its picturesque lighthouse and the little church of the Ayii Apostoli (Holy Apostles). The austere and simple house in which Nikos Kazantzakis – the internationally-acclaimed Greek novelist upon whose book ‘The Life and Times of Alexis Zorbas’ the film Zorba the Greek’ was based – lived is a little past the lighthouse. The Kapralos Museum is a short distance from Kazantzakis’ house. The great sculptor’s works, dating from 1963 until his death in 1993, are exhibited here. It is said that the large sculpture entitled ‘Mother’ and situated outside the museum next to the sea represents the artist’s own peasant mother. Kypseli – Souvala – Vaia This route mainly covers the northern edge of the island, which is the most densely-populated. From the house of Kazantzakis and the Kapralos Museum the road continues for Souvala. This is the quickest route from the town of Aegina, and goes to Souvala via Kypseli, the island’s second-largest town which is almost merged with the capital. The brilliant-white old domed church of Ayios Moulos can be seen from afar between this road and the coastal one, set on a verdant height. The large, pretty square of Kypseli, dominated by the beautiful church of the Evangelismos (when the Archangel Gabriel told Mary that she was going to give birth to the Son of God), is about 4 km. from the town of Aegina. The road continues for the village of Vathy and then descends to reach, after another 4 km., Souvala, the harbor of Vathy and the island’s second port. Souvala is known for its warm springs which can help with arthritis, rheumatic skin problems and gynecological problems. It is also a tourist center and there are regular direct connections with Piraeus. The large docks, with the fishermen’s nets spread out and the plethora of fishing and tourist boats impress. There are hotels, and many apartments and rented rooms to meet the needs of visitors. A very interesting trip can be made from Souvala. This goes up to Palaiochora and the Monastery of Ayios Nektarios, and meets the central arterial road from Aegina through Aphaia and Ayia Marina, which we shall read more about below. The coastal road continues in an easterly direction and passes alongside the luscious – green Ayii, to reach, after 3,5 kilometers, Vaia, is yet another small tourist resort, smaller than Souvala, with a pretty little port. From Vaia, as from Souvala, a road rises towards Mesargos and towards the central arterial road of Aegina – Aphaia – and Ayia Marina. Ayios Nektarios Monastery This route is the first section of the one of the largest and most important routes throughout the island. You can start from Aphaias Street, which begins at the centre of the port and which is the second parallel road with the port. You can also start on this route from other roads further to the south, which all finally meet up with Aphaias Street. The road cuts across the town of Aegina and continues in an easterly direction towards the island’s hinterland. The houses become sparser and sparser, to be replaced by fields with beautiful country churches and lots of greenery. The nature here is serene, with nothing out of the ordinary, and the smooth lines of the mountains create an atmosphere of calm. Yet, the first surprise comes after a distance of about 5.5 km. An imposing church with two tall belfries and four rows of windows with red arches suddenly appears on the left of the road. This is Ayios Nektarios, a new church built below the Monastery of Ayios Nektarios, the architecture of which is reminiscent of that of Ayia Sophia in Constantinople. This nunnery the entrance to which is on the road for Souvala and very near to the crossing with the Aegina-Aphai arterial route, was built at the beginning of the 20th century on the site of a small Byzantine monastery dedicated to the Zoodochos Pigi (life-giving source) by the Bishop of Pentapoli Nektarios. Ayios Nektarios passed the last years of his life in the monastery, carrying out a great philanthropic work and gaining the admiration and adoration of the faithful, who flocked to the monastery to meet him. Many still talk about his generosity and his ability to cure people suffering from incurable diseases. Ayios Nektarios died in 1920 and was buried in the monastery. He was canonised in 1961. From then on the monastery, which had been known as the Monastery of Ayios Theodoros, was renamed the Monastery of Ayios Nektarios. The Saint’s memory is celebrated on 9th of November, when thousands of faithful gather at the monastery, having come from all parts of Greece. On the right of the road which goes from the church of Ayios Nektarios to Souvala, and before the entrance to the Monastery, is the small, brilliant-white nunnery of Ayia Aikaterini, surrounded by vegetation, the tall cypress trees standing out. This same road, as it ascends, winds around a rocky hill on its right. Some grey-yellow buildings can be seen scattered around on this hill. These are the approximately 35 of the many churches that existed in Palaiochora (tradition says there were 365) which remain standing. Around 20 of these still have some fine wall-paintings preserved. Palaiochora Palaiochora is another Mystras. It began to be built in 896 after a fierce raid by Saracene pirates on the coastal town of Aegina. Centuries later it became the capital of the island, to be abandoned at the beginning of the 19th century when the inhabitants slowly began to return to the sea and rebuild the new Aegina. The ruins of Palaiochora are approached from a pass in the hills, there where the ascent of the road towards Souvala ends. At this point is the church Stavros, the first church which the visitor to Palaiochora will meet. From here the footpaths which follow the old paved roads lead to the old Byzantine churches, such as Panayia Yiannouli and Ayios Georgios the Catholic. During the period of Catalan rule this church belonged to the Catholics, but was later again restored to the Orthodox. Other churches include Episkopi, the metropolitan church of Palaiochora, in which the Bishop of Aegina Dionysius, later saint of Zakynthos, officiated (his is preserved next to the church), the Taxiarchis (Archangel), a cruciform church, the Ayii Theodori etc. Chrysoleontissa Monastery After Episkopi, a diversion to the left from the main path leads, after an uphill walk for fifteen minutes, to the Kastro, the castle, built by the Venetians in the 17th century. At the peak there a preserved two small churches, built next to each other. These are Ayios Georgios and Ayios Dimitios. There are the ruins of walls, houses and wells on Kastro, and the view from here, especially towards the beach of Souvala, is exceptional. After the visit to Palaiochora, you can continue your route on the main road towards Aphaia and Ayia Marina, or go in a northerly direction towards Souvala. There is yet another road in a southerly direction, leading from the new church of Ayios Nektarios in the hamlet of Kontos. This road is three kilometers long and provides the opportunity for, a visit to the important Monastery of the Chrysoleontissa. The monastery is located in the centre of the island, and it dominates from high up on the luscious-green mountain slopes. The road terminates at a mountain range, from which point we can reach the monastery after a walk of about fifteen minutes. The monastery, with tail fortress-like walls, was built at the beginning of the 17th century so that old monastery at Leonti on the north coast of the island could be moved to a safer place and safe from the relentless pirate raids. It is a large two-storey building with a courtyard in the centre. In the courtyard there is a church and, next to it, a tall three-storey tower. The church is newer and was built on the site of the older one, which was destroyed in a fire. The icon of Panayia (the Virgin Mary) is well – worth seeing. The Aeginitans all bow with respect to this icon. The church’s iconostasis and wall-paintings are also of interest. The Monastery, which celebrates its feast day on 15 August, when the island’s largest festival takes place, converted in 1935 from a male monastery to a female nunnery. Mesagros – Aphaia – Ayia Marina The road from Ayios Nektarios leads in an easterly direction, nine miles from the town of Aegina, to Mesagros, a large hamlet with a few houses and whose inhabitants work in agriculture. The surrounding area has quite a bit of vegetation, including, of course, plenty of pistachios. After Mesagros begins the ascent up a beautiful pine-clad hill, at the top of which is one of the most beautiful temples of ancient Greece, the Temple of Aphaia. It was not by chance that this spot was chosen as the location of the temple. The panoramic view from here over the charming gulf of Ayia Marina is outstanding. Moreover, traces of a later Neolithic (3000 BC) settlement have been found. This settlement and Kolona are the oldest settlements on the island. Before the temple that we see today was built, two smaller temples had been constructed. The first was built in around 600 BC and only a small section of its foundations survive. Only the altar survives from the second temple. The third temple to have been built, the one we see today, is an exceptional example of late archaic architecture. It is in the Doric order and was built with local limestone in around 500 BC. It had six columns on the short sides and twelve on the long sides. Twenty of these columns survive today, whilst in the cella (the main area of the temple) there were two internal colonnades parallel to the main colonnades, with five columns each. There was a second row of five smaller columns above, built in such a way as to form a stoa, in the form of a raised section around the three sides of the temple. The decoration on both the exterior as well as the interior was exceptional. What gave the temple its greatest splendor; however, were its famous pediment sculptures. Unfortunately, however, these have suffered a similar fate to those of the Parthenon. In 1811 the German Baron von Hallerstein and the English architect Cockerell, who discovered the sculptures after excavation, transported them to Zakynthos, which was then under British rule, and from there they went to Italy. They were then bought in an auction by Ludwig I, King of Bavaria, and father of the future King of Greece Otto, who took them to the Glypthotek in Munich, where they remain. These sculptures include 16 statues carved from Parian marble and many other pieces. These sculptures formed scenes from the Trojan War, with the goddess Athena as the central figure in both the pediments. As a result, it was initially believed that the temple had been built in honor of Athena. During excavations carried out much later (in 1901), the German archaeologist Furtwangler discovered an ancient description with the name of Aphaia. She was a local goddess, and tradition associates her with the Cretan Britomartis. According to the myth, Britomartis was the daughter of Zeus and half-sister of Artemis, who loved her greatly and took her hunting with her. Minos fell madly in love with Britomartis, and she sought refuge in the sea. As she jumped into the waters, her foot was caught up in the nets of some fishermen, who transported her to Aegina. Her misfortunes were not to end here, though, as a fisherman tried to rape her. Artemis then intervened, and made Britomartis invisible and took her into the island’s woods. In this way, then, Britomartis became ‘aphanis,’ or invisible. In the dialect of the time, this was pronounced ‘aphaia.’ A section of the eastern pediment was destroyed a few years after the erection of the building. The shattered statues were buried, as was customary, and new ones put in their place. Thankfully, Furtwangler was able to uncover them, so that the National Archaeological Museum in Athens could also have a piece, even a little one, of the famous sculptures of the Temple of Aphaia. Around the temple there are the remains of various buildings. Entrance to the archaeological site is through a small gateway. Straight ahead to the right are the ruins of the priests’ houses and immediately after them are the baths. There follow the great gate and the path taken by the procession, beginning from the altar and reaching the entrance to the temple, which is in its east side. The temple was divided, as was the rule, into the pronaos, the cella – the main area of the temple which housed the goddess’s sta­tue – and the opisthodomos at the back. The Temple ofAphaia is connected with the port of Aegina, 11.5 km. away, by coaches that depart from Ayia Marina. The archaeological site is open every day, except Mondays, from 8:30 to 17:00. From Aphaia, the road descends with many bends, to reach the pretty gulf of Ayia Marina after 4 kilometers. This was once a fishing village with two or three taverns, but has today grown, thanks to its wonderful sands and dense pine forest, into a large tourist center which in the summer bustles with life. Villas, hotels, restaurants, bars, an organized beach with facilities for water sports, and anything else the visitor could ask for, they will surely find in this resort. The little harbor is full of boats small and large, whilst in the summer there are direct connections with Piraeus in small boats. From Ayia Marina the road, following the coast, continues on to the fishing port of Portes. The return journey to the town of Aegina can be made through the settlement of Alones, with its small villas and restaurants, via a road which meets the main road at Mesagros, bypassing Aphaia. Pacheia Rachi – Temple of Zeus Hellanios – Portes This is another route of great interest, centering on an archaeological site that is directly connected with the mythology and history of Aegina. This route crosses the island from north-west to south-east, passing alongside Oros, Aegina’s highest mountain. The road – Faneromenis Street – begins at the old prisons of Aegina and at first travels parallel with the coastal road. It turns left to Pacheia Rachi before meeting with the coastal road. As this road ascends the view on the right over the sea becomes all the more beautiful. At first you can see the town of Aegina in the distance as it is left behind, whilst to the left is Angistri, luscious green and also in the distance. The islet of Moni soon appears before the peninsula of Methana. A little further to the left, like a white tine on a narrow strip of land which continues into the sea, is picturesque Perdika. The row of white houses on the beach down below belong to the village of Marathon. We shall have the chance to see all these from closer up on the last leg of our journey around the island. The village of Pacheia Rachi, which looks out over the sea and the plain, soon appears. The belfry and blue dome of the church stand out. Just beyond the village are the new facilities of the Centre for the Care of Wild Animals and Birds, which is being relocated here from the former prisons of Aegina. Every year the Centre takes care of many wounded (mainly by hunters) and sick wild animals and birds. The Centre is a very commendable effort by a group of young people whose aim is to care for these animals and then to return them to their natural environment. Beyond the Centre, a dirt road to the right leads to Sfyricthres, and the archaeological site with the sanctuary of Zeus Hellanios. From a distance one can discern the broad, grand stone staircase next to a Hellenistic wall. On the upper part of the staircase, to the left, is the Byzantine church of the Taxiarches, the Archangels, which used to be the cathedral church of a monastery. The ruins of the monks’ cells can still be seen round about the church. The wall was most probably built in order to fill it in so as to create a large, flat, square area upon which the sanctuary of Zeus Hellanios was built. Tradition has it that no rain fell on Aegina for many years, and the island suffered greatly. Aiakos, the mythical King of Aegina and son of Zeus, was advised by the oracle at Delphi to plead with his father to bring rainfall. His plea was heard and, in order to thank Zeus, Aiakos built this temple in the god’s honor and established his cult here. Today, from the south-east corner of this large terrace, and beneath some tall rocks, we can see the foundations of a large structure and the bases of three rows of columns, which supported the roof. It is likely that this structure acted as a hostel for pilgrims. Further up, at a little distance from the terrace, there are two wells within the rocks and the large stones, which most likely were also created to serve the needs of the pilgrims. These wells, most likely fed by some spring, even today contain a little stagnant water, which is not, however, drinkable. Above the temple stands the mountain with the ancient name of Oros, and which is directly associated with the cult of Zeus on the island. It has the shape of a cone and is covered in rocks and stones. The footpath leading up to its peak (532 m), the tallest in Aegina, is to the west. Traces of buildings have been found on the peak, and it was initially believed that they were part of the sanctuary of Zeus Hellanios. This is not the case, however, as these buildings date to the 13th century BC whilst it appears that the Dorians brought the cult of Zeus to Aegina in around 1000 BC can still be seen round about the church. The view of the island and the whole of the Argosaronic from the peak of Mt Oros, today known as Profitis llias, is splendid. The small, brilliant-white church which stands here is not dedicated, as is usually the case, to the Prophet Bias but to the Analapsi, the Ascension of Christ. From the crossing with the dirt road that leads to the sanctuary of Zeus Hellanios, the central road continues towards the east and soon starts to descend down to the sea, with many bends. There is much vegetation along this route, mainly pine and olive trees. A little house to the right of the road catches the eye. This is, in fact, an azure, two-storey mill with a conical blue roof. At the end of the road lies the isolated and serene fishing village of Fortes, with its few houses and little tavern built on a rise. A beautiful pebbly beach stretches out to the right, whilst to the left, next to the road which leads to the north, is the small artificial harbor which protects the boats in the area. This same road continues alongside the pretty villages, finally ending up at Ayia Marina, which we discussed in the previous route. Marathon – Perdika The route taken to reach Perdika is idyllic and peaceful, not at all like the others we have covered so far. The road, which follows the coast with almost no, bends at all, proceeds alongside the neoclassical villas near to the port of Faros. From here on, it contin­ues alongside the coast of the gulf of Marathon. This is the open gulf in which the Greek war ships gathered after their victory at Salamis in order to divide the spoils. It is also the gulf at which Capodistrias, the first governor of Greece after the Revolution of 1821, disembarked in order to set up his first government. The village of Marathon appears after a total of 4 kilometers from the port of Aegina. Marathon has an organized beach and has developed into a tourist resort. From here on, the houses become fewer and fewer. There is a small strip of land in between the road and the coast, which has a fair covering of greenery. Eucalyptus trees, with their tall and slender trunks, bushes, reeds, and behind all this lies the sea, peaceful, alight, with an amazing blue colour, the shades of which fluctuate as the distance from the coast increases. Further in the distance, on a bare, long and narrow peninsula, the white houses of Perdika shine in the light of the sun. Moni, the conical-shaped islet, stands out to the right, and behind all this, the sharp dark grey-blue peaks of the Methana mountain range. A little before Perdika, the organized beach of Aiginitissa, with its beautiful sands and green surroundings, most definitely attracts the visitor’s eye. At this point the road ascends, now entering the infertile earth of Perdika. Yet, even in this treeless place, which is watered on both sides by the sea, a surprise awaits the visitor. On the southern side of the peninsula there is a charming fishing village which, despite its tourist development, has managed to preserve all the features of the Aegean Sea which characterized it of old. Its port, full of colorful fishing caiques and other boats, buzzes with life. The raised road above the port, with the taverns all in a row on one side and the little tables set up along the seafront on the other, remains just as it was many years ago. A few small hotels and rented rooms have, of course, now been added. The place has been noticeably developed, the large church of Ayios Sozos, which celebrates its feast day on 7 September with a large festival in the village, built. Yet, the village’s charm is still the same. The visitor coming from the town of Aegina (9 km. away) will enjoy walking through the village lanes, with their old houses and gardens full of flowers, as well as trying some fresh fish -something never absent from Perdika. The visitor can even, if it is the right season, visit the islet of Moni opposite, and enjoy a wonderful swim in its fantastically-clean waters. It is only a short distance away, and there are regular connections throughout the summer months. You disembark at a small, organized sandy beach on a cove on the north coast of the islet. A beautiful forest stretches out beyond the bead clambering up the slope of a steep mountain and covering almost the whole of the northern area of the Moni. The rest of the islet is bare and craggy, with rocks at its highest point, which tapers off into a cone. The island belongs to the Greek Travellers Club, and rare species of animals are nurtured on it, such as the chamois goat-antelope (the Cretan kirki) and peacocks. From Perdika, a relatively new road leading to the east goes to the village of Sfentouri, on the north of the slope of Mt Oros (Profitis llias). The archaeological site ofKolonas This is a very important archaeological site, not simply because of the ruins of the famous temple of Apollo and other buildings, but because it contains the remains of ten successive prehistoric settlements dating from the late Neolithic period (5th millennium BC) until the Mycenaean period (1600-1200 BC). All the finds are gathered on a hill to the north of the port, at the peak of which stands a single column (kolona), from which the hill took its name. The column, which is part of the temple of Apollo, is the only one which has remained upright of the eleven which stood on each of the long sides and the six on each of the short sides. The temple was built in the late 6th century BC and dominated the region due to its size and its beauty which was equal, it is said, to that of the Temple of Aphaia, which we shall see below. The foundations of some other structures belonging to the temple have also survived, such as the altar to the east of the temple, the Temple of Artemis to the south-east, two small rectangular buildings and a circular one. There are also the remains of many walls from different eras, such as the Bronze Age fortress walls, the archaic acropolis walls, the Roman sanctuary walls, and the so-called port walls which run down towards the port. Other significant remains are those of a rectangular structure which was perhaps used as a gathering place and which Pindar refers to as a viewing gallery. The Museum of Kolonas The Museum of Kolonas is located in front of the site in a new, square, one-storey building with a large atrium in the centre. The atrium contains sculptures from the cemetery of Reneia, from the time that Capodistrias brought them to Aegina. The splendid large and narrow hall of the museum contains some fine exhibits dating from the late Neolithic period until the Roman period. Among the finds are red-buff vases with painted decoration and small clay idols from the earliest prehistoric settlement (5th millennium BC), Bronze Age pottery (3rd millennium BC), such as the ‘gravy boats’ which stand out for their perfect technique, as well as Middle Bronze Age (2000- 1600 BC) items, such as buff-grey painted vases and other Minoan-type vases. There are a large number of pottery items from the Mycenaean period, whilst the archaic (7th – 6th century BC) vases are important too, such as the Ram jug representing Odysseus and his companions escaping from the Cyclops. The archaic and early classical periods are also represented by the famous marble sphinx of Aegina (460 BC) as well as sculptures from the pediment of the Temple of Apollo. The sculpture of Heracles is most probably from the pediment of the earlier limestone temple, whilst the tombstone with relief sculpture dates to the late 5th century. At the entrance to the museum are the impressive models of a house from the prehistoric city III on the hill of Kolonas, the so-called ‘white house, ‘and of a bronze-foundry. The models make quite clear that the ‘white house’ had two floors. The foundry dates to around 2300 BC, whilst the ‘white house’ dates to around 2200 BC.

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