Just a few miles away from Piraeus is Aegina, a place full of beauty and interesting history. It has been a great naval and trading power since prehistoric times. It was the first city to mint silver coins, as early as 650 BC. It reclaimed its place in history as the temporary capital of the Kapodistrian government in 1828 - 1829. It was inevitably eclipsed over time by Athens due to its proximity.
Aegina belongs to the Argosaronic island complex. It is located in the middle of the Saronic Gulf between Salamis, Agistri and Methana. Its area is only 87 sq.km2, but it hides a rich hinterland. Mount Oros is the highest mountain of Aegina with an altitude of 531 meters. Platyvouni follows a little further north with 441 meters.
In many parts of the island you will find dense pine forests (in the north-eastern part) while in others a bushy area (mainly in the southern part).But in many parts of the island you will find pistachio trees. The Aegina pistachio is registered as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product, and you can find it everywhere on the island.
The island is also considered one of the most densely populated in Greece. Its population exceeds 13,000 inhabitants, while the northern part of the island receives more and more residential pressure. Despite the residential development of the island, the beauties of Aegina remain indelible. On the island you will find paths that cross pistachio groves, ancient olive groves, pine forests and monuments of historical importance.
Hiking is the best way to get to know the island. There is a rich network of paths that cross the island from one end to the other. On the map of Anavasi to Aegina you will find 9 routes with their descriptions.
- Around Ellanios Dios Temple 8,8km
The route, passing through old agricultural and pastoral settlements and uninhabited areas on southern Aegina with magnificent views over the Peloponnese, takes us to the archaeological site of mount Hellanion. The starting point is the cement road in front of the church dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin in the village Anitseou, with a towering old windmill. After about 300m, the route continues on the old path. After passing through the village of Vlachides, it continues to Sfentouri, passing by two “souvales” (traditional, stone-built water cisterns) on the way there. After Sfentouri, it goes by a large threshing floor not far from traditional churches and then by the large “souvala” Achlada. Here, the route is uphill and leads to a dirt road, where the trail to the top begins. There follows the downhill
- Sfentouri - Eleonas 3.3km
North of the settlement of Sfentouri starts a cobblestone path that passes through terraced fields of olive trees. Walkers will enjoy the view west (Perdika, Moni, Methana) and, after passing by two beautiful chapels, will reach a large stone threshing floor. In a few minutes, the path ends at “souvala” Achlada. Heading north from Achlada, there is a downhill dirt
path to the ancient olive grove, a place of rare beauty boasting a wealth of flora and fauna (herbs, wild greens and flowers, wild rabbits, horses,
butterflies...). It is the unique landscape identified with Aegina’s tallest mountain, the “Oros” (Mount) and its rich folklore.Protected by the surrounding mountains, the area resembles a natural basin that collects their water, thanks to which the impressive, millennium-old olive trees have survived. The trail ends at the church of the Holy Trinity (Aghia Triada),with the old, closed, stone water tank and the water troughs for the animals, carved in brown stone, the precious local mavropetra.
(You can continue to Pachia Rachi on Path 3.
- Ancient Olive Grove (Marathonas - Eleonas and back) 5,8km
From the second beach at Marathonas, we take the paved road towards the town. After 200m, the small wetland of Marathonas can be seen on our left, where migratory birds find temporarily rest on their long journey. After 100m, we turn right towards the mountain. Α dirt road takes us to the path leading to the old settlement of Kapotides, where we will arrive in 35min. We go up the slope on the right towards Pachia Rachi, a traditional settlement with stone houses and stone-paved streets. After passing the church of St Dionysios (built in 1813), we turn right and take the downhill path by the stream. In 30min we reach the Elaionas Valley, a majestic olive grove of 1,500- to 2,000-year-old trees. The path passes by the church of the Holy Trinity (Agia Triada), with its water tank and troughs for animals carved in brownstone, before leading to some of the most impressive olive trees in the grove. Each is a unique living sculpture. Take the time to explore them. From Elaionas it is a 50min descent to the Marathonas beach, passing by farmland towards the end of the route; on the left, we can see the Kakoperatos Hill, where the brownstone used for making the famous Aegina millstones was extracted.
- Chrisoleontissa 6km
From Pachia Rachi we walk 800 m east on the asphalt road. The uphill path starts at the cemetery and leads to the monastery of Panagia Chrysoleontissa on a plateau in the centre of Aegina. Once on the hill, the path is flat and easy. Turning right, to the east, we arrive at the hill-surrounded plateau of St. Leontios. Large number of potsherds and an old kiln have been discovered in the area. On the eastern side of the plateau there is the chapel of St. Leontios, built on ancient ruins in the 17th c. The area is called Bourdechtis (a corruption of the Greek word omvrodektis – rainwater collector) because there is a small aqueduct near the chapel, which consists of a system of underground chambers, galleries and three wells cut into the bedrock at a depth of about 6 m. Turning left at Bourdechtis, a very easy path now takes us straight to the Chrysoleontissa nunnery. A small detour to the left brings us to the monastery’s large threshing floor which dates from the agricultural heyday of the region and offers wonderful views of Paliachora and the Monastery of St. Nektarios.
- Eastern part 5.8km
From Anitsaiou, a settlement with a characteristic windmill, we descend north to the pine forest by the small, lush canyon. We go on, passing by the rock-cut family-owned rainwater-collection cisterns, souvala in Greek, which announce the traditional settlement of Kilindras, where we arrive after an hour’s walking. We cross the village, which offers excellent examples of folk architecture and traditional interiors. We turn right on the square. After 100 m, we take the dirt road on the right, which leads to a path that brings us to the outskirts of the seaside village Portes. Bypassing the village, we begin the ascent towards Anitsaiou, passing through a beautiful stone-paved and -walled path, and lush vegetation. Attention: after the cemetery, we enter the asphalt road, which we leave after 100 m, turning right to resume the path that crosses the beautiful rural landscape of old terraces.
- Skotini – Moni Chrisoleontissas 5.8km
This east-heading route, on a dirt road at first, follows the stream of Skotini (ancient name Asopos). Walking by the stream, we pass by a tall oak tree and then below the village Freatsi. In this fertile region there was a water source, a threshing floor, a wine press Here ends the easy dirt road, and the route continues on a trail.We cross the stream to the opposite bank. The route continues southwest, with panoramic views of the harbour and the Saronic Gulf, passing the outskirts of the village of Tzikides, first on a dirt road/concrete road and soon on an uphill path once again, which leads us first to the large threshing floor and then to the monastery of Chrysoleontissa.
- Walking in Palaiohora 1.2km
Palaia Chora or (Paliachora) became the capital of the island in the 9th c. AD due to the fact that the coast was exposed to the incursions of the Saracens. The site was inhabited for 1000 years, until the early 19th century and the Greek War of Independence (1821). Today, 35 stone churches survive. To get into the wonderful “Little Mystras” of Aegina, we take the dirt road behind the church of Stavros and continue in the same direction on the trail around the hill. Then, the trail turns south-east, providing an opportunity to see the forest of Messagros, the unique geological formations on the back side of the hill and the view to Cape Sounion. After the church of St John the Theologian (Agios loannis Theologos), we take the ascending path on the left. We pass by the small monastery of Agia Kyriaki, and climb to the old fortress site. Here, we admire the church dedicated to the saints George and Demetrios, and the rainwater tanks, a vital resource for survival in times of siege. The descent is by the same route at first; we soon turn right at the second path around the hill, located beneath the giant rocks of the fortress. We pass by the hermitage of Saint Dionysios, the restored Diocese (Agios Dionysios) and the central square of the settlement, called Agora, or Forum by the Venetians, dominated by Saint George of the Catholics (or Panagia Foritissa). The steps after the square take.
- Palaia Chora – Mesagros 5.2km
The route starts on the downhill asphalt road and after 700 m turns right on a forest road heading east through the pine forest. In this area, as in all the pine-forested mountainous areas of the island, the inhabitants collected resin and traded it for use in winemaking and the production of turpentine, an oil-paint solvent. At the end of the forest road, the asphalt road to the right takes us to the village Mesagros. Herelies the island’s fertile central plain. Mesagros has been a renowned Aegina pottery centre since ancient times. A large number of workshops used to operate in this area, which found the raw material for clay on the slopes of the surrounding mountains; today, two traditional workshops exist in the village that still manufacture utility and decorative clay objects.
- Mesagros – Temple of Aphaea 2.5km
The route starts on the downhill asphalt road and after 200 m turns right, along the path heading east in the stream The path leads to a dirt road which ends at the main asphalt road, which we walk across.The uphill path starts among vineyards, crosses dense pine forest and ends at the ancient temple of Aphaia.