Temples galore when sailing the Greek islands
The famous temples are undoubtedly among the most well known of Greece’s attractions, with the stunning Parthenon of Athens instantly recognisable. There are also plenty of smaller temples to visit when sailing the Greek islands, with one of the best to be found on the island of Aegina.
The Temple of Aphaia, constructed around 500BC, is notable not least because it is in astonishingly good condition for a building of its age. More than one temple has existed here and the common practice of laying one over the top of another means that the lower levels of the remains have been surprisingly well preserved; of the 32 original columns, 24 can still be seen.
Greek temples were not designed for worshippers to enter; instead, worshippers would walk around the perimeters and gaze through the columns to admire the statuary within. The temple here is unusual in that it included an inner structure, suggesting it was a sanctuary of great significance.
For many years it was believed that the temple was one of many dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena; however, the discovery of relics bearing the name ‘Aphaia’ proved that it was devoted to this locally worshipped deity. The large number of female sculptures and ancient figurines that have been found here also suggest that this site has been a focus for feminine fertility and agricultural deities since around 1500BC.
There are numerous ancient places of worship to visit all over Greece, of course, but the Temple of Aegina is a prime example and should not be missed.