Temple of Aphaea – Aegina - History and Facts | History Hit

Temple of Aphaea – Aegina

Mesagros, Attica, Greece

The ancient Temple of Aphaea on the island of Aegina is one of the most important and picturesque temples in Greece.

Peta Stamper

28 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

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 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.

Temple of Aphaea – Aegina history

The site itself was the location of an important ancient sanctuary which dates back far into antiquity, and the temple sanctuary was later 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 importance of the Aphaia sanctuary declined after the Athenians began to dominate Aegina from the middle of the 5th century BC. While some repairs were made to the temple in the 4th century, by the end of the 2nd century BC the area was largely abandoned.

Temple of Aphaea – Aegina today

Today the Temple of Aphaea remains in a picturesque semi-ruinous state and is one of the most important ancient sites on the island. 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 in the Doric style.

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.

Getting to the Temple of Aphaea – Aegina

The temple can be reached by car from Aegina within 15 minutes or by bus in 25. From Agia Marina, the drive takes only 10 minutes. Otherwise, from Aegina it is a lovely walk (about an hour or so) to the temple.

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