Greek Guide

Aegina Tourist Attractions Day Trips Greece Guide Aegina

Aegina Tourist Attractions Day Trips Greece Greek Travel Guide

If the busy beach resort of Agia Marina on Aegina's east coast is not your idea of a good time, you'll still find plenty of sights to see and places of interest to fill a few days on the island. There are historic sites to explore, wonderful walks through unspoilt countryside and some great tavernas where you can while away the hours. If you're still looking for something to do the mainland is so close you can pop over to the Parthenon for the day or explore the Peloponnese, a short boat ride to the west of Aegina.

The island's star attraction is its Temple of Aphaia, built around 490 BC on a site known to have been a place of worship since the 13th century BC. The temple, perched on a pine clad hilltop above Agia Marina on the east coast, pre dates the Parthenon and is one of the best preserved ancient temples in the whole of Greece. According to legend the temple was named after and dedicated to a daughter of Zeus, a Cretan nymph who had the misfortune to arouse the lust of King Minos. She fled her homeland and took refuge on the island.

The temple is Symilar to the famous Temple of Zeus at Olympia and in its original state would have been a magnificent, brightly painted and elaborately adorned structure with a statue of the goddess Aphaia at its centre. Somewhat miraculously, 25 of the original 32 columns still stand but the superb sculptures which once decorated the pediments were sold to King Ludwig of Bavaria in 1812 and are now housed in the Glyptothek Museum in Munich.

The medieval ghost town of Paleohora, half way along the road from Aegina Town to Agia Marina, is also worth a visit. It was built on a hilltop in the 9th century as a refuge for islanders plagued by marauding pirates. The town was the island capital until 1826 but was abandoned after Greece gained independence from the Turks and has been deserted every since. About 20 of the town's original 365 monasteries and churches (one for each day of the year) remain in tact and a couple retain some remarkably well preserved frescoes.

Just north of Aegina Town you can see a single column on the hill known as Kolonna (meaning column) which marks the site of an ancient Temple of Apollo. There's a small archaeological museum which contains finds from the Temple of Aphaia and other excavated sites around the island.

A short drive further north takes you to the village of Livadi where you can visit the house where the famous Cretan author Nikos Kazantzakis penned his last and best known work Zorba the Greek (immortalised in the film starring Anthony Quinn).

For a heartbreaking insight into the damage caused by illegal hunting, pesticides, poisonous baits and the other horrendous habits of mankind visit the Hellenic Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre near Pahia Rahi 10 kilometres south east of Aegina Town. The centre treats all kinds of wounded birds and mammals including eagles, owls, wolves, bears and jackals. Volunteers who make their own way to the island will receive free accommodation in return for helping to care for the stricken creatures.