Aegina island, view of down town
The memorable profile of the island with its conical peak at Mount Oros to the south, becomes familiar long before you ever visit Aegina: it is visible from the Acropolis of Athens, from Piraeus, from the road to Corinth, and from virtually any side by land, air or sea, as you leave or arrive in Athens. That was Aegina’s problem: it was too near to Athens. And its early commercial strength, marine power and economic wealth—in some respects, greater than that of Athens in the 6th century bc—had to be eliminated if Athens were to grow as she wished to do. The island was, in Pericles’s memorable phrase, ‘the eyesore of the Piraeus’. Already by the middle of the 5th century bc Aegina had been reduced by Athens to a clerurchy with no independence and only the faint memory of its past pre eminence. In modernity—as if by an irony of destiny— Aegina once again preceded Athens as the capital city of a partially liberated Greece in 1826, minting the first coins of modern Greece, just as it may have been the first to mint silver coins in Ancient Greece in the 6th century bc. That a place as lovely as Aegina should be so close to Athens (a little over 20km as the crow flies) comes as a surprise. And there is much on the island to detain the visitor. Its archaeological remains—the well-preserved Temple of Aphaia and the ancient site of Kolona—are amongst the most interesting and important in the Aegean; there are also impressive later remains of a sanctuary of Zeus below Mount Oros. Deliberately hidden...READ MORE

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