Aegina, beautiful greek island near Athens

Aegina, beautiful island in the Aegean sea on the Athenian side, a superb island about 20 miles away from the Greek capital. Aegina, a greek island full of history with its temples and churches on the beautiful and attractive coastline.

Why going to Aegina? Aegina attracts many visitors as it is near Piraeus. The island has become quite touristic since 1990 and its inhabitants have the advantage of enjoying it economically. Aegina also enjoys religious tourism on the island which increases with visits to the monastery of Saint Nektarios. Finally, it welcomes many foreigners in love with its ancient history by visiting the Temple of Aphaea which is still preserved. Byzantine monuments on the island are also worth a visit.

And then I think that Aegina is a good destination …
  • For those who wish to see Athens and to go on a beautiful island not very far away for one or more days,
  • For those who wish to discover what is beautiful in Greece without traveling too far: There are subjugating historical visits to be carried out, beautiful hikes to be made to see the religious sites, good swimming in perspective, nice little tavernas … etc.

Where’s Aegina? It is called in Greek Eyina. It is located in the southwest of Athens in the Saronic Gulf of the Aegean Sea. It is an island with 82 kms2 and about 12,000 inhabitants. There are low arid hills and a few plains. Its Mediterranean climate is dry with very few rains as in Athens. The island is known for its famous production of very high quality pistachios.

How to get to the island of Aegina? The journey by ferry from Athens airport to Aegina takes only 3 hours! You take have a taxi driving you to Piraeus. From the port of Piraeus, if you take the hydrofoil, the journey lasts only 40 minutes. If you have the regular ferry, the journey will last 1 1/2 h. In order to travel on the island, just rent a small car.

Ilida studios (photo above)

Accomodation on the island of Aegina? I went to the island two years ago with a friend from Athens and I had reserved at Ilida Studios. It was on a hill near the main village of the island and we had a great view of the city and of the sea. We were not far away from the temple of Aphaea and the monastery of St. Minas. The beach was not far away also but we had a small car to visit the entire island in 5 days. Attention please: to reserve on the island, it is necessary to go ahead on March-April-May at the latest!….

WHAT TO SEE IN AEGINA?
Aegina beaches: The most beautiful beaches are located in the south. I loved all the beaches of the island: The beach of Moni Island, opposite the uninhabited islet of Moni and then, the beach of Sarpa further on the south.

 

The Egina city of the island and the village of Perdika (pictures below). The city is built in amphitheatre around the harbor. One can see the bust of Kapodistrias in the south in homage to the governor who granted a new life to this city which became the first capital of Greece after the independence of the country. The long walk street at the edge of the water have with nice restaurants and shops. I really enjoyed strolling through its narrow streets with a remarkable 19th century architecture …

Perdika is the second largest settlement on the island. This fishing village is 9 kms away from the town of Egina. It is a very pleasant to overlook this village with its marina, its mini shady beach and the churches of St Sostis and The Dormition on the Virgin Maria.

The archaeological sites with the sublime ancient temples: The temple of Athena Aphaea of  Dorian style, modeled as the Parthenon, is northeast of the island of Aegina and is dedicated to the goddess Aphaea. She would be the nymph Britomarti of Crete. She has a close family relationship with the goddess Artemis. Being really beautiful, she was often hunt by men including Minos. Artemis concealed her. It is the reason why her name is Aphaea (Aphanti in Greek means « who has disappeared »). The temple was built despite her disappearance. This temple is truly grandiose. The museum is nice next door. Entrance will cost you 6 Euros. The museum is closed on Mondays.

2. The Temple of Apollo. We can see what remains of the temple of Apollo on the archaeological site of Kolona in the north-west of Aegina with the Archaeological Museum of Aegina next to it. At the top of the hill of Kolona, we can see the temple of Apollo (built around the 6th SC) but today, there is only one column. The temple was rectangular with 11 columns on the long side and 6 columns on the other side. Near the temple, we could find tombs with gold jewellery. Unhappily, they are now at the British Museum of London.

Paleochora, the historic town of Aegina. Near the monastery of St Nektarios, you can see a very old town on a hill of the 9th A.D., in the centre of the island. This town was very active until 1537, when the terrible Turkish admiral Barbarossa arrived to destroy it. There are only a few walls, a water citern and around twenty churches but their wall paintings are in poor condition …. what a pity !  At the top of the hill, there was a castle with the churches of St Dimitris and St George. The view from the top was surely fantastic.

The grandiose monasteries of Aegina:  The monastery of St Nektarios (photo below on the left) is located near the village of Kontos, near the « medieval hill » of Paleochora. It was built in 1907 by a bishop and thaumaturge known as Nektarios. He lived in the monastery until his death in 1920. Officially declared as a « Saint » in 1961, we celebrate his death on the 9th of November and many pilgrims invade the monastery.

The monastery Panaghia Chrysoleontisa (in english, the Virgin Chrysoleontisa Protector of the island of Aegina) is located 1 km away from the monastery of St Nektarios. It was built in the 17th SC (1600-1614) in the centre of the island, far away from the pirates’ eyes along the coast. It still looks like a fortress. The monastery is dedicated to the Dormition of the mother of God, St Dionysios and St Haralambos. I was impressed by the carved iconostasis carved all in wood with superb representations of the old Testament, Saints, angels, evangelists etc.

The churches of Aegina: The church venerating in particular the Dormition of the Virgin Mary is the main church of the island (below on the left). It was built in 1806 in the city of Aegina. Its beautiful marble iconostasis is built in 1871. The bell tower near the church is majestic with its bell brought from Russia by the 1st Greek Governor Kapodistrias. On the south side of the bell there is a sundial. And at the top of the bell, there is a nice rotating compass. You can also see the small church of St Nicholaos at the entrance of the port …

 

The famous monument of Marekllos: The Tower of Markellos was built in the 17th SC and was renovated in 1802 by Spyros Markellos, a fighter for the independence of 1821. This mini-fortress has protected some fighters like Colettis and Favier. This is a 2-storey defensive tower that communicates with an outside staircase. The tower was famous from 1926 to 1830: It welcomed political parties and the provisional Government of the time. In 1830, it finally received the Governor of Greece Kapodistrias, and other personalities. Today this tower is a cultural center.

My experience: Within 5 days, I did not have time to see everything on the island of Aegina but I saw the most famous places on the island. I really enjoyed my visit to the Temple of Aphaea and all around, we had a great view of the whole island. The landscapes on the sea and the mountain are beautiful with its pines and its pistachios. The villages are picturesque with a thousand colors, colors of the summer with the sun changing everything making the atmosphere magical on the island. I was really taken by the island of Aegina and I hope to return there soon.
Have you had the chance to visit the island of Aegina? What were your impressions?

 

 

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