The Monastery of Agios Nektarios in Aegina is one of the largest Monasteries of Greece and one of the largest orthodox churches in the Balkans. It is an attraction for tourists arriving from different parts of the world to worship and get healed, due to its reputation for being thaumaturgic, which goes back in history.
Agios Nektarios Monastery was built in 1904. Its current form was set in the period 1973-94, when the locals started building on the ruins of a Byzantine monastery. Its history relates to Saint Nektarios himself, who settled on the island in 1908. He soon became popular, thanks to two miracles he performed according to the folk tradition: He healed a possessed young man and then brought down rain following 3 years of drought after praying to God on request by the Aegineans. The inhabitants of the island perceived these two events as divine signs, so that they considered him a saint even while he was still alive. Saint Nektarios – who is now the patron saint of Aegina – died of cancer in the Aretaio Hospital in 1920 and left behind a rich pastoral, theological and literary opus. His relic, despite the three burials and exhumations, remained unchanged for over 30 years! Thus, he was proclaimed a saint, officially, in 1961, and since then the Monastery is considered a source of hope for the pious believers.
Agios Nektarios Monastery is located midway between the port of Aegina and Agia Marina. It is just 1 kilometer from Paleochora, in an uninhabited area. Upon arrival, you will feel great awe just from the building’s sheer volume.
In the heart of the town of Aegina, in a beautiful neoclassical building of 1828 is housed the historical and folklore museum of the island.
As Aegina carries a long history, it is not surprising that such a museum would be of particular interest for the visitors who can get thus a good taste of how the locals’ daily life was two centuries ago. Once home to the family of Panagis Iriotis, doctor of philology, archaeologist and folklore scientist and for several years director of the School of Aegina, this museum was bequeathed to the Municipality of Aegina by his daughter, Polymnia Iriotou Thomakou. Since October 2007 it has hosted a rare collection of historical and traditional objects and archival documents.
On the ground floor the visitor will have the chance to admire the representation of a “village house” in Aegina with objects of that time and agricultural tools, as well as the “fisherman's house” with fishing tools and miniatures of models from different types of boats. The ground floor with its beautiful courtyard serves as a Cultural Center hosting occasionally exhibitions, theatrical performances and other cultural events.
On the first floor there is a precise representation of the “urban house” of Aegina. Among the exhibits there are furniture, heirlooms, the library and the mail archive of the Iriotis family, paintings, traditional and urban costumes and various decorative objects. The historical and folklore exhibits as a whole magically take you to another era and make you feel how the day of the locals of the last century went by.
The Folklore Museum of Aegina operates with the support of the Association “Friends of the Historical & Folklore Museum of the Municipality of Aegina”. The building was badly damaged by the earthquake of 1981, but it was soon restored thanks to the remarkable help of its supporters and through donations, exhibitions, events and bazaars organised for this purpose. The Association “Friends of the Historical & Folklore Museum of the Municipality of Aegina” intends to continuously enrich the collections of the Museum with donations from Aeginetans and friends of Aegina *.
Admission: 2 €
The museum is located on the first floor. Entrance at the courtyard.
The Archaeological Museum of Aegina was the first National Museum of Greece. It was founded on October 21, 1829 by Ioannis Kapodistrias in Aegina, the capital of the Greek state that time. Initially, the Museum was housed in the Kapodistrian Orphanage and after some changes, it found its current place in 1981 at the archaeological site of Kolona, next to the ruins of prehistoric settlements and the acropolis.
In the three rooms of the Archaeological Museum the collections on display cover the period from Prehistoric to Roman times and include findings from Kolona, the Temple of Aphaea, the Temple of Zeus, the Temple of Artemis, the Temple of Apollo and others. In the same space there are vessels exhibited from the Cyclades and Crete, thus proving the intense commercial activity of the Aeginetans of that time.
In the Museum there is a representation of an early Helladic two-storey house, the so-called “white house”, as well as a copper foundry, while among the wonderful exhibits you will find ceramics, marble statues, ancient jewellery, bronze utensils, vases, inscriptions and coins.
Through a number of impressive sculptures, such as the sculptures of the pediments of the two Archaic temples of Apollo, the two sphinxes of the sanctuary and some reliefs, Aegina confirms its reputation as one of the most famous sculpture schools in Archaic years (7th -5th century BC). The inscription that refers to the oldest temple of Aphaea also stands out.
The most important exhibit of the Museum is considered to be the statue of the Sphinx, a work of the Classical period (460 BC), which was dedicated to god Apollo and was excavated in 1903. It regards an exceptional sculpture consisting of the head of a woman with a body half of an eagle and half of a lion.
Admission: €4, Reduced: €2
Valid for the Archaeological Museum and the site of Kolona
In the area of Plakakia, 3 km from the port of Aegina to the north and on the coastal road, it is worth making a stop at the museum of Christos Kapralos, one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century worldwide.
The Greek sculptor, painter and engraver, Christos Kapralos, one of the greatest representatives of modernism in Greece, was born in 1909 in Panaitoliko (near Agrinio). Despite his family’s financial condition, he managed to study painting at the Athens School of Fine Arts and sculpture in Paris thanks to the support of his sponsors. In 1991, two years before his death, he founded the Christos and Soulis Kapralos Foundation in Aegina, which led to the foundation of Christos Kapralos Museum, which first opened its doors in 1995, two years after the artist’s death.
The Christos Kapralos Museum in Aegina hosts in its halls and in its open-air space a significant number of works of all his artistic periods from 1963 to 1993, since he worked mainly on the island of Aegina. Using a variety of materials (wood, copper, marble, local alabaster, plaster, etc.), Christos Kapralos presents, among others, paintings, sculptures, engravings, ceramics and terracotta.
His work is inspired by people’s daily life, by peace and war, but also by his relationships with his friends and relatives. He represented Greece at the Venice Biennale (biennial) in 1962 and participated in the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1975. Today his works adorn private collections and museums in Europe and America.
Some of his most important works that can be admired in this museum is the copy of the frieze «The monument το the Battle of Pindos», inspired by the Greek resistance against the Germans, which today adorns one of the halls of the Greek parliament. Also, the copper statue “The Mother”, placed opposite the museum, overlooks the sea and symbolises the Greek mother who is waiting for her sailor son.
It is worth mentioning that in 2006 the Christos and Soulis Kapralos Foundation became part of the National Gallery - Museum of Alexandros Soutzos and since then it has been operating as such.
And if you feel that you want to learn more, then you can attend some of sculpture workshops taking place in the museum.
The Temple of Aphaea is one of the most important sights to be visited on the island of Aegina. It is built on a hill of 160 m, surrounded by pine trees and stands out for its unique energy.
In the Prehistoric Period (1300 BC) it was a unique place of worship. However, its sanctuary flourished during the Archaic Period, when three temples were built in the same place, with the last one being preserved to this day.
Where it is located
The Temple is located 15 km from the capital of Aegina (2 km east of Mesagros) and was built in 500-490 BC on a previous temple, which was destroyed by fire around 510 BC. The Aeginetans therefore decided to demolish it, retaining though the gate and the large altar, and to build a new one depicting the sculptures of the “Aeginetan” School. The new temple took its final form in 500 BC and is an exquisite example of Archaic architecture.
Bonus info: Iktinos and Kallikrates are said to have relied on this model temple in order to later design the Parthenon.
The architecture of the Temple of Aphaia
This particular temple is a Doric Peripteros, made of local limestone (the pediments are made from Parian marble) and is a crossroads for ancient Greek architecture, since the elongated proportions of the Archaic temples are abandoned. Instead of 6 columns on the narrow and 15 on the long sides, the proportions of the temple of Aphaea are very close to the proportions of the temples of the Classical period with 6 columns on the narrow sides and 12 columns on the long sides.
Another element of its architecture, geometry, technique and physics concerns the outer columns which have a slight inward leaning and the columns located at the corners that are somewhat thicker than the rest. Today, 24 of its 32 columns exist.
The origin of its name
The sanctuary was dedicated to deity Aphaea. The Temple of Aphaea is mentioned by Pausanias in the 2nd century AD, the famous Greek periegetic writer who identified Aphaea with Britomartis - Diktynna, the Cretan goddess, daughter of Zeus and Carme. According to the myth, Minos, the king of Crete, fell in love with Britomartis, chased her and she, in order to escape him, fell into the sea, where she was caught in the nets of fishermen who took her on their boat. But a sailor fell in love with her and she, in order to escape again, fell into the sea and went out to the island of Aegina, where the ship happened to pass by. Britomartis kept looking for a place to hide and ended up on this remote hill of Artemis where the goddess made her disappear. When they went to look for her, they found in her place a statue which they named Aphaea (Aphaea = invisible). In this place the Aeginetans founded a sanctuary in her honour and built the famous temple of Aphaea. Later, goddess Aphaea was associated with Athena and so the temple was named after Athena Aphaea.
Its famous impediments
The temple of Aphaea was especially known in antiquity for the pediments which adorned both its narrow sides. The sculptures of the pediments were colourful and were made from Parian marble, with themes taken from the Trojan War, in which Aeginetan warriors and descendants of the king of the island, Aeacus, were distinguished. Athena as a central figure is present on both pediments.
The Aeginetans presented their island as the homeland of the Aeacus family. At about the end of the 6th century BC, when Aegina was threatened by the Athenians, the Aeginetans decided to change the pediments to emphasise their roots connected to Aeacus and, of course, their achievements.
The Temple of Aphaia in modern times
The sanctuary of Aphaia was not maintained for long. After the Athenian enforcement in Aegina, from the mid-5th century BC, the sanctuary began to decline so that by the end of the 2nd century BC the area had already been abandoned and has since been preserved as seen today.
The first excavations took place in 1811 by the architect Ch. R. Cockerell and his friend Baron von Hallerstein, who visited the site and excavated the sculptures of the pediments. They transported the sculptures to Italy and then in 1828 to Munich, where they remain on display at the Glyptothek of Munich.
Systematic excavation of the monument was carried out by the German Archaeological Institute in 1901, under the supervision of Ad. Furtwangler and H. Thiersch and later, in 1964-1981, under that of D. Ohly. The years 1956-1957 restoration work was carried out by A. Orlandos and E. Stikas.
The Temple’s energy
It is said that the Temple of Aphaia with the Parthenon and the Temple of Sounion form an imaginary isosceles triangle (the sacred triangle of antiquity which the ancient Greeks took care to observe and apply when it came to the architecture and energy of a temple). When the atmosphere is clear, there is direct visibility between these three temples which is said that the ancient Greeks used as a way of communicating in case of attack by enemies.
At the foot of Mount Hellanion, the highest mountain of the island, the ancient Eleonas (Olive Grove) can be found in a valley with scattered olives over 500 years old! The miracle of life unfolds before your eyes, since the young sprouts coexist with the serpentine centenarian trunks, a tangible proof of the continuity of nature, you can also visit the chapel of the Holy Trinity.
Eleonas is accessible, for hiking enthusiasts, either from the seaside area of Marathon (50') or from the mountain village of Pachia Rachi (half an hour).