During the 6th century BC Aegina built up a large commercial
fleet and emerged as an important naval power. At this time too
local potters were producing the well-known Aeginetan clay
vases. Fine arts flourished on Aegina in antiquity and the
Aeginetan sculpture workshop, which had its heyday in the 6th
and 5th centuries BC, was renowned. On account of its navy,
Aegina played an important role in the Persian Wars. It was
captured by the Ottomans in 1718. After the Liberation, the
first government of the newly founded Greek state was installed
in Aegina in 1828.
Aegina, the islandís capital and port, is an attractive town
with colourful Neoclassical houses. Interesting sights are the
quaint chapel of Aghios Nikolaos by the waterís edge, the
metropolis of Aghios Demetrios (Greek Orthodox cathedral) where
the first government of Modern Greece was sworn in, the
Government House (Kyverneion) of Capodistrias, now the premises
of a notable library.
On the picturesque Kolona hillock near the harbour, stands a
solitary Doric column, the sole remnant of the temple of Apollo
which stood there in the 6th century BC.
The Aegina Archaeological Museum (tel. (22970) 22.637) houses
significant finds from the area. On a hill 4 km from Aghia
Marina, is the islandís most important archaeological site, the
temple of the ancient goddess Aphaia, patron deity of Aegina.
Peripteral and in the Doric order, traces of the previous temple
can be seen in its foundations. Twenty-four of the 34 columns of
the peristyle, part of the restored entablature and two columns
from the pronaos have survived. Remains of the propylaia, an
altar and priests apartments are also preserved. Aphaia, a deity
little known to the Greeks, was replaced by Athena in order to
boost their morale in the Trojan War, which is why this monument
is alternatively known as the temple of Aphaia Athena.
The Monastery of the Virgin Phaneromeni is quite close to the
town. North of the town are the seaside resorts of Plakakia,
Leonti, Souvala and Vaia, with accommodation for holidaymakers,
restaurants, tavernas, bars and other amenities. At Souvala
there are therapeutic springs. The road along the islandís N
coast ends at Tourlos.
Six km NE of Aegina is Palaiochora, the islandís capital from
the 9th to the 19th century, with a medieval castle and many
interesting churches. Not far away is the convent of Aghios
Nektarios. Information, tel. (22970) 53.800, (22970) 53.806. The
interesting architecture of the Monastery of the Virgin
Chrysoleontissa, founded in 1600 in the heart of the island, is
reminiscent of the fortified monasteries on Mount Athos.
The medieval village of Mesagros, 9 km NE of Aegina, B with its
long tradition in pottery-making, offers a superb view of the
Aphaia temple. To the S is Aghia Marina (13 km from Aegina) ,
the islandís most popular seaside resort, set in the midst of
The road along the coast S of Aegina passes through Faros,
Paliopyrgos, Marathonas, Aiginitissa and Profitis Ilias. It ends
at the pretty fishing village of Perdika, with the thickly
wooded islet of Moni 3 km offshore. There are frequent boat
services between Perdika and Moni in the summer months. There
are mooring facilities for private craft in the harbour at
Aegina. Information from the Harbour Office, tel. (22970)
22.328. The islandís characteristic products include pistachio
nuts and local pottery.