About Temple of Aphaea – Aegina
The ancient Temple of Aphaea on the island of Aegina is one of the most important and picturesque temples in Greece.
The site itself was the location of an important ancient sanctuary which dates back far into antiquity. The sanctuary was dedicated to the cult of Aphaia, a local deity later assimilated by Athena. Historical records and archaeological excavation have shown that a significant temple structure stood on the site in the 6th century BC and it is believed this earlier incarnation was destroyed by fire in 510 BC.
The Temple of Aphaea ruins we see today date back to the second temple built on the site, which was constructed between 500 BC and 490 BC. Built in the Doric style, it was comprised of twelve columns on each site while the internal temple (cella) had two rows of five columns each.
The importance of the Aphaia sanctuary declined after the Athenians began to dominate Aegina from the middle of the fifth century BC. Some repairs were made to the temple in the fourth century, but by the end of the second century BC the area was largely abandoned.
Today the Temple of Aphaea remains in a picturesque semi-ruinous state and is one of the most important ancient sites on the island.
Among the most interesting features of this ancient Greek temple were the pedimental sculptures, which show elements from history and legend. The east pediment showed elements from the first Trojan War, which was an early expedition by Herakles against the Trojan king Laomedon, and which included Telamon, son of Aiakos – the first king of the island of Aphaea. This expedition is not to be confused with the second Trojan War – the one described by Homer – which is depicted on the west pediment, and in which in which three descendants of Aiakos participated: Ajax, Teukros and Achilles.
As with other famous Greek sculptures, these pediments were removed in the 19th century and are now on display in the Glyptothek museum in Munich, Germany.
The Temple of Aphaea at Aegina is now a popular tourist site and offers a beautiful backdrop for those seeking to take some inspirational photography at a truly idyllic site.