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info Saronic Islands
The Greek Saronic Gulf Islands are a popular weekend and summer retreat for Athenians fleeing the smog-filled streets of their traffic congested capital. These are the closest islands to Athens - Aegina is only 35 minutes by hydrofoil from the mainland port of Piraeus - and consequently they attract hordes of Greek visitors along with foreign tour groups and independent island-hoppers who don't have time to venture further a field. The archipelago is named after the mythical King Saron of Argos who is said to have drowned while pursuing a deer that fled into the gulf to escape the royal huntsman's arrows. Aegina's proximity to Piraeus makes it one of the most visited of all the Greek islands, popular with day trippers and home to many Athenians who commute to the capital each day. Its biggest visitor attraction is the impressive 5th century BC Temple of Aphaia which pre-dates the Parthenon and is one of the best-preserved ancient temples in the whole of Greece . The island's interior is a paradise for hikers with its low mountains concealing wooded valleys, olive groves and endless orchards of pistachios which are the island's biggest export. Aegina Town, on the island's west coast, is a working harbor with some grand old buildings and a very "Greek" feel to it (it's almost a suburb of Athens these days except it's a great deal more attractive than the urban sprawl on the outskirts of the capital). The main east coast resort of Agia Marina is a different world of package holiday hotels and a frantic beach scene of Brit bars, copious water sports and burning foreign bodies. The island of Poros lies to the south of Aegina , hugging the Peloponnesian coastline which is only a five-minute boat hop away. Poros is actually two islands connected by a road bridge - the tiny volcanic island of Sferia, dominated by attractive, tourist-orientated Poros Town, and the larger island of Kalavria with its interior smothered with pine trees and beaches packed with Greek and foreign tourists. The island is an ideal base for exploring the many fascinating places of interest to be found at the eastern end of the Peloponnese .Hydra has the great attraction of being an entirely traffic-free island - even bicycles are banned here so the only way to get about is on foot, on a donkey or in a water taxi. The island boasts one of the most stunningly beautiful harbors in Greece , with imposing 17th and 18th century mansions stacked on the rocky hillsides overlooking the waterfront. Hydra has been a favorite haven for writers, artists and Bohemian types since the 1960s. The back streets of the main town and the uncoil interior are still a delight for those seeking a respite from the tourist development and madding crowds that now characterize many of the other Greek islands.
Spetses is the southernmost of the Saronic Gulf Islands and has the best beaches. The coastline is peppered with picturesque pine-fringed coves that makes this a popular destination for British package holidaymakers. It's not as traffic-free as Hydra as mopeds and motorbikes are allowed but only residents are permitted to bring in cars and their use in the main town is prohibited.
Visit the Saronic Islands
(Area 50 sq. km, length of coastline 56 km).
(Area 22 sq. km, length of coastline 25 km).
Introduction (Area 84 sq km , length of coastline 57 km). 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 island’s capital and port, is
an attractive town with colorful Neoclassical houses. Interesting sights
are the quaint chapel of Aghios Nikolaos by the water’s 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 island’s 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.
(Area 33 sq. km, length of coastline 43 km). A narrow channel separates the
island from Galata on the opposite Peloponnesian coast of Troizinia (anc.
Troezen). Myth has it that this richly verdant island was the birthplace of
Theseus. In the 7th century BC Poros, then called Kalaureia, was the seat of
an amphictyony of seven cities. During the Greek War of Independence (1821)
the inhabitants of Poros joined forces with those of Spetses and Hydra,
putting their ships in the service of the Struggle. The delightful little
town of Poros is the island’s capital and port. To the east of the harbor
is the richly wooded islet of Bourtzi with a small castle built for its
protection in 1827. Housed in the Poros Archaeological Museum, tel. (22980)
23.276, are important finds from the island and ancient Troezen. Some 5 km
NE of the town are the remains of the sanctuary of Poseidon, with a 6th
century BC temple in the Doric order. The area is called Palatia by the
locals and has a stunning view. Near the harbor, on the S coast of Poros, is
enchanting Askeli with superb sea and dense pine woods. On an eminence
beside the shore is the Zoodochos Pigi Kalavrias Monastery. Three km NW of
Poros are Mikro and Megalo Neorio, beautiful sandy beaches with pine trees
down to the water’s edge. There are plenty of opportunities for taking
excursions from Poros to the opposite coasts of the Argolid, crossing the
strait by sea taxi or ferryboat. Directly opposite the harbour of Poros is
the Peloponnesian town of Galata, set in the midst of greenery, and further
S is the idyllic Lemonodasos (lit. Lemon Wood). There are fuel and water
supply facilities for boats in Poros harbour. Information, Poros Harbour
Office, tel. (22980) 22.274, (22980) 22.224. In early July Naval Week is
organized, with cultural events and exhibitions associated with the island’s
Attica (Athens and Rest of Attica) -
Saronic Gulf -
North Eastern Aegean Islands
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