Aegina, Greece

Aegina is a Greek island in the Argo Saronic bay that lies off the Greek mainland close to the capital of Athens. Aegina is a popular weekend retreat for many Greeks in the summer.

Aegina island is located in the Saronic Island group in Greece next to the Saronic Gulf. Sitting just 31 miles from Athens, Aegina is a very popular summer resort, and many locals from Athens have second houses on Aegina island. Aegina is one of the nearest of the Greek islands to the Athenian port of Piraeus, 20 kilometres away.

Aegina is roughly triangular with fertile plains to the north mainly given over to pistachios, almonds and figs. Though not known for its beaches, Aegina has a colourful main port, some very well preserved ruins and many interesting sights. Aegina is also ideal as an island base to explore Athens and mainland Greece.

The Greek island of Aegina is an ideal place to stay if you wish to remain close to Athens but do not wish to stay in the city itself. Aegina is a pleasant location with with low-lying mountains and numerous coves. If you like pistachio nuts, then this is the place for you, as it is the main centre for growing them in Greece.

Aegina is included in the Piraeus Prefecture, and, on a larger scale, Attica. Most of Aegina is an extinct volcano, and the fertile plains produce wonderful qualities of grain, cotton, vines, almonds, olives, and figs. The most abundant crop of Aegina is pistachios. The volcanic area is located on the southern part of the island, and is mostly mountainous and barren. The highest point is Mount Oros, which is 531 meters high.

Aegina’s capital is the city of Aegina. Neo-classical buildings run along the length of the waterfront, and it is these buildings that house most of the tavernas and bars in the town. The waterfront is not just the preserve of the tourist industry, Aegina still has a thriving fishing community, and it is common during the day, to see the fishermen, sat on the quayside mending their nets.

Aegina has many fine churches, but the largest of them all adjoins the monastery of Agios Nektarios. and can be reached by the bus that runs from the  main town  to the beach resort of Agia Marina. Just opposite of Aegina lies the Agios Nektarios monastery, located a hill with the ruins of the ancient abandoned city of Palaiohora, which was Aegina’s capital from the 9th to the 19th century. The remnants of the medieval castle are atop the summit. This is where the population of Aegina sought refuge during ancient pirate raids. The church houses the tomb of the bishop from Aegina, Metropolite Pentapoleos, Nektarios Kefalas,who died in 1920 and was canonized in 1967. and is now known as Saint Nektarios.

A very interesting and important landmark on Aegina is the Virgin Chryssoleontissa monastery, located on the road to Marathon. The monastery was built in 1600 in the style of the fortified monasteries of Mount Athos. Inside the church there is a beautiful carved iconostasis. You may choose to visit the quaint seaside village of Marathon, or the small fishing port of Perdika. In Perdika you can take a small ferry to the beautiful islets of Angistri and Moni, which offer exquisite natural landscaping, perfect for a serene and relaxing visit.

The Temple of Aphaia, dedicated to the Cretan nymph Aphaia, sits on a hilltop Surrounded by pine trees, above the resort town of Agia Marina. The Doric temple, which is the best preserved of all the classical temples in the Greek islands, was built in about 490 B.C. 34 years before the island was conquered by the Athenians, and predates the Parthenon in Athens by around sixty years. It can be easily reached, as it is located along the Aegina town – Agia Marina bus route. The port of Agia Marina is a busy resort town with little of the character of Aegina town. The beach can become quite crowded, and is well overlooked by the many hotels that have sprouted up around the bay. Holidaymakers are well catered for with a large selection of tavernas, bars, and takeaway outlets.