“Temple of Aphea (or Aphaea or Aphaia) is dedicated to the Greek Goddess Aphea”
This is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece and you can visit by joining our Cruise to Hydra, Poros and Aegina.
The Temple of Aphea has an unusual plan and it used to have important sculptures, which are thought to illustrate the change from Archaic to Early Classical technique.
These sculptures are now housed in Munich’s Sculpture Gallery.
There are also a number of fragments exhibited in Aegina’s archaeological Museum and on the site’s Museum.
Temple of Aphea has an extremely beautiful setting, as is usually the case with places chosen by the Ancient Greeks for their Temples.
Together with The Temple of Poseidon at Sounion and The Parthenon on The Acropolis of Athens City, it forms an equilateral triangle.
Some thought that the sanctuary was dedicated to Hellenio Zeus, but after the Pedi mental sculptures were discovered it became apparent that it was dedicated to Goddess Athena.
Ever since further angler’s excavations in 1901, the established opinion has been that the sanctuary, as indicated by an inscription found in the Temple’s foundation, belonged to the Crete-Mycenaean Deity Aphea which said to be connected with the Minoan Deity Britomartis, a friend of Goddess Artemis. The Deity unwittingly provoked a burning passion in King Mitios, and while fleeing him, fell into the sea.
Some fishermen caught her and brought her to Aegina.
As soon as she was on the island one of the fishermen pressed his advances upon her and she then fled toward the woods of Goddess Artemis and then suddenly disappeared from the face of earth.
The islanders dedicated a Temple to her, the now Temple of Aphea and it is likely that the pre Hellenic cult of Aphea, which came to Aegina from Crete, eventually merged with the cult of Goddess Athena.
As it appears that the first Temple, to which belongs the inscription found in the foundations and now in the Aegina Museum, dates from the 7th century B.C.
It was a simple square building, of which there remain only a few foundations of the altar.
In the early 6th century B.C. a Temple with a three aisled cella was on the same site.
Several architectural fragments from the Temple still survive, used as building material in later construction.
Today the Temple of Aphea is one of the finest examples of Archaic Architecture, was built in 490 B.C. Construction is made out of local poros in the peripteral Doric style, with six columns on the short and twelve columns on the long sides.
A large door with Marble Pilasters led from the front porch to the cella, in which stood the gilded Ivory and Wood Statue of Goddess Aphea.
This space was divided by a double row of five columns into three aisles, which formed a two storied stoa on the north, east, and south sides of the cella.
The coffered ceiling was decorated with golden stars, while the floor was covered with a thin red plaster, traces of which can still be seen. A smaller door, probably built later since it is not in the axis of the Temple, leads to the rear porch.
To the right and left of it are two square marble blocks between two vertical slabs, which may have been offering tables. The entire surface of the Temple of Aphea was covered with a yellowish plaster, and some architectural parts like the cornice and the pediment tympana were coloured.
As soon as the Temple was completed a New Altar was built outside to the east and the sanctuary space enlarged with isodomic retaining walls.
The Temple of Aphea and the Altar were surrounded by an enclosure with an entrance on the south side.
A new propylon was built, keeping roughly to the earlier plan and dimensions, with two stoas.
The interior room was larger and led down four steps to the courtyard.
Five large rooms and two stoas east of the propylon must have been the Priests’ Quarters.
All these buildings were surrounded by an enclosure with an entrance in the south.
Further south, below the sanctuary entrance, are the foundations of a three-roomed house which probably served as a guest house.
Aegina island was a rival to Athens City, the great sea power in antiquity.
During the 6th century BC,as an independent power, it was the first city of the western world to mint coins.
Capital of the island is the Town of Aegina (pop. 7,410 in 2001 census).
Due to its proximity to Athens City, it is a popular quick getaway during the summer months, with quite a few Athenians owning second houses on the island.
Fishermen, Sailors or Shipbuilders are the usual professions on the island of Aegina.
Some are also farmers, and they grow olives, pistachio nuts and fruit.
The town of Aegina as the capital of the island has many Attractions;
A ride through the town with a Horse Carriage is a nice experience and a good way to enjoy the sights of the capital of Aegina island with its many Interesting Buildings and Neoclassical Houses
Among them is the First Greek Government Building, the Orphanage building that was founded by the first governor of Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias.
According to mythology, Aegina was a Beautiful Princess with whom God Zeus fell in love with.
In order to be alone with her, he took her to this uninhabited island, and they had a son, Aeacus, who became the First King.
During the Neolithic period the island has been inhabited , as can be seen from the finds at Kolona, near the town of Aegina, which date from around 3000 BC.
Later, the Minoans came to the island of Aegina, to be followed by the Achaeans and the Dorians.
From the middle of the 2nd millennium BC, Aegina island began to develop its trade and at the same time emerged as a strong naval power. Ships carried the products of the island, chiefly ceramics, to the Cyclades, Crete and mainland Greece. Ιt reached the zenith of its development during the 6th century BC, when, as an independent power, it was the First City of the western world to mint coins.
In spite of the fact that Aegina island was a rival of Athens City, it helped the Athenians in their victory against the Persian fleet at the Naval- Battle of Salamis.
After the important contribution of Aegina island to the struggle against the Turks in 1821, it became the seat of the First Greek Government, under Kapodistria, before being succeeded in this role by Nafplio.
Because of its important position in antiquity (Aegina island was a rival to Athens City, the great sea power of the era) there are still Many Ancient sites to see.
The most famous being the Temple of Athena Aphea from the 6th century BC.
Surrounded by pine trees, on a hilltop above the town of Agia Marina, this Doric Temple, built around 490 BC, is the Best Preserved Classical Temple in the Greek islands.
Dedicated to the Cretan Nymph Aphea, it predates The Parthenon on The Acropolis of Athens City by around 60 years.
An equilateral holy triangle of temples is formed including The Temple of Aphea, The Parthenon and The Acropolis of Athens City and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion.
A very interesting place to visit is the Monastery of Ag. Nektarios.
Ag. Nektarios himself is buried here, and is said to hold miraculous, healing powers.
Very close to where Ag. Nektarios monastery is located we find Palaechora Town, which is an abandoned Byzantine town.
Palaechora Town was once the Capital of Aegina island. Nowadays, in this area there are only the ruins of a medieval castle.
The house where Nikos Kazantzakis the editor of Zorba the Greek lived for some years is situated on Aegina island.
See the the Temple of Afaia in Aegina island with one of our tours: