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The Island

 

Aegina is one of the Saronic Islands of Greece in the Saronic Gulf, just 11 miles from the port of Piraeus.  In  1828 it became the first capital of Greece and Ioannis Kapodistrias was the first governor. Tradition derives the name from Aegina, the mother of Aeacus, who was born in and ruled the island. During ancient times, Aegina was a rival to Athens, the great sea power of the era.
The island, along with offshore islets, comprises the Municipality of Aegina in Piraeus Prefecture, a part of the Attica region. Due to its proximity to Athens, it is a popular quick getaway during the summer months, with quite a few Athenians owning second houses for the summer on the island. Besides the town of Aegina, other popular villages on the island are Pérdika (a well known fishing village) Souvala and Agía Marína.

Aegina is roughly triangular in shape, approximately 15 km from east to west and 10 km from north to south, with an area of about 87 km². An extinct volcano constitutes two thirds of Aegina. The northern and western side consist of stony but fertile plains, which are well cultivated and produce luxuriant crops of grain, with some cotton, vines, almonds, olives and figs, but the most characteristic crop of Aegina today is pistachio nuts. The southern volcanic part of the island is rugged and mountainous, and largely barren. Its highest rise is the conical Mount Oros (531 m) in the south, and the Panhellenian ridge stretches northward with narrow fertile valleys on either side. The beaches are also a popular tourist attraction. Hydrofoil ferries from Piraeus take only forty minutes to reach Aegina while the regular ferry takes about an hour.

The capital, the town of Aegina, situated at the north-western end of the island, is full of fine neoclassical buildings and narrow alleys where one can enjoy fresh fish and excellent appetizers in the taverns of the fish market, in the heart of the town. It is a thriving port where you can find the commercial area of the island.  Other places worth visiting are the Temple of Aphaea, which was part of a pre-Christian, equilateral holy triangle of temples including the Athenian Parthenon and the temple of Poseidon at Sounion, the Monastery of Agios Nectarios, dedicated to Saint Nectarios, a recent saint of the Greek Orthodox Church. Another attraction is the governor house situated at the center of the city 50m. from the Metropolitan temple of the island which was constructed by Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first leader of free modern Greece (1776-1831).  The building was subsequently used as a museum, a library and a school. The museum was the first institution of its kind in Greece, but the collection was transferred to Athens in 1834. Finally, the Archaeological Museum in the town of Aegina contains findings from the temple, potters, marble, and anchors from ancient ships collected from all around the island.