Hidden Gems

Wonder at goddess worship with boat charter in Greece

By Jenny Wilson
on  July 03, 2016

Greece’s capital takes its name from Athena, indisputably one of the most famous goddesses. Her temple at the Acropolis may be small but it is one of the most visited attractions and remains one of the best examples of Ionic architecture in Greece.

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The Athena temple at the Acropolis is not the only example of goddess worship to be found here, however. Travelling to the island of Aegina with boat charter in Greece, you can explore one of the country’s finest archaeological wonders. This temple was built in 470BC and is a fabulous example of Doric design. It was built over the remains of a previous temple that was sadly destroyed by fire; however, as this first temple was filled in to provide a more stable surface on which to build the second, quite a few remnants were fortuitously preserved.

The temple at Aegina was for many years believed to be dedicated to the worship of Athena; however, the discovery of a relic bearing an inscription relating to Aphaia changed this theory. Aphaia was the local goddess of hunting and mountains. Legend has it that she caught the eye of lustful Minos but was captured by sailors whilst trying to flee. She escaped up into the mountains and then disappeared, hence her name, which translates as ‘vanished’. She was worshipped as the deity responsible for the protection of sailors, an essential role in an area so reliant on shipping.

Of the 32 columns, 25 remain. Although the temple has no roof, much of the interior has been surprisingly well-preserved. The temple was elaborately adorned with friezes and pediments depicting heroic battles, which would have been richly painted in bright colours when first crafted. There are also various sculptures, some of which can be identified as warriors. Aside from the temple, the sanctuary here contained several smaller buildings that were probably used as offices or to house additional statues.

Other relics retrieved from the site can be seen in the local museum, providing a fascinating insight into the richness of the island’s cultural heritage.

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