Excursion to Attica – Five archaeological sites you may not even know exist
You have visited the Acropolis again and again. Probably the same is true of the ancient Agora – and you’ve probably heard something about the ancient cemetery of Kerameikos.
As for the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion, if you haven’t enjoyed a sunset on the rock, we suggest you hurry.
But after exhausting the classic options of… classical (and not only) antiquity, keep in mind that Attica hides countless archaeological gems.
And some of them, you may have never heard of before.
Amphiaraio of Oropos
On the banks of the torrent of Charadra (as it was called in ancient Greece), there is the Amphiarareio, an oracle and sanctuary dedicated to Amphiaraus.
Amphiaraos was a hero of Greek mythology and a seer who was forced to take part in Polynices’ campaign against Thebes.
According to mythology, he was saved from death thanks to the intervention of Zeus, who opened the Earth with a bolt of lightning and Amphiaraos hid in its bowels.
This is why the ancient Greeks have worshipped him as a deity of the underworld ever since.
Apart from being a seer, he was also a physician, with some sources referring to him as the “second Asclepius”.
Although this particular archaeological site remains relatively unknown, it was one of the most important sanctuaries of antiquity.
One can now see the ruins of the sanctuary’s buildings, parts of its baths, an ancient theatre dating back to the 2nd century BC, and a sacred spring that to this day gushes water from a Roman-era cistern.
It was from that spot that the ancients believed that Amphiaraos emerged as a god after being rescued by Zeus.
The ancients made vows to Amphiaraos to improve their health and if they were indeed healed they would throw gold or silver coins into the spring.
Although summer is perhaps more suited to a visit combined with a dip in a nearby beach, the weather is still hot – so hurry up.
It is an archaeological site so well preserved that it is certain that if it were not in such a remote location you would have heard of it again and again.
It is located in an area untouched by time, having never been inhabited after antiquity and consisting mainly of fields and pastures.
Ramnous or Ramnoundas is not an ancient theatre or sanctuary: It is an entire city.
Within it still survive the ruins of the sanctuary of Nemesis (dating back to the 6th century BC) and the fortress of the settlement.
In antiquity, this area was of great strategic importance for the Athenians, since through the fortress they controlled the passage to the Euboean and transported grain to Athens.
The ruins were never completely buried under the soil, but as the area did not experience any residential development, until the beginning of the 19th century, the sanctuary and the fortress were not visible.
The archaeological site, with its magnificent view of the Euboean Sea, is ideal for a beautiful autumn walk.
Tombs, thrones and untouched nature blend harmoniously and impress the visitor.
In summer, the visit can be combined with a visit to the beaches of Mikro or Megalo Sesi.
Taking its name from the hero Vravrona and having as its most important attraction the sanctuary of Artemis of Vravronia, Vravrona, one of the twelve ancient cities of Attica, is definitely worth a visit.
According to mythology, the statue of the goddess was brought to the sanctuary of Vravrona – one of the most important in Attica – by the order of the goddess herself, by Orestes and Iphigenia, having started its journey from Taurida.
Apart from the site of the ancient temple itself, it is definitely worth a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Vravrona, where all its sculptures and other findings from excavations in the area are located – some dating back even to prehistoric times.
Sanctuary of the Egyptian Gods in Nea Makri
What are statues of Egyptian gods doing in Nea Makri?
At the Little Marsh of Brexiza, in the 2nd century AD, Herod Atticus erected a temple dedicated to the gods of the ancient Egyptians – which should not have been terribly difficult for one of the richest men of his time.
The temple must have been truly impressive in its heyday, when it was still adorned with huge statues, parts of which have been identified by archaeologists.
Nowadays, at the site of the temple, the visitor finds replicas of the statues of the goddess Isis and the god Osiris.
Based on the size of the statues, the size of the temple, which is estimated to have been located on an island formed within the marsh and connected to the mainland by canals, is also apparent.
The original finds have now been moved to the archaeological museum of Marathon to protect them from deterioration.
Don’t you think it’s worth a visit to the oldest surviving theatre in Greece?
Something tells us that you didn’t know that it is located in Lavrio and specifically in Thorikos, one of the oldest settlements in Attica estimated to have been inhabited since the fourth millennium BC.
The theatre alone is reason enough for this short excursion from the centre of Athens. It is estimated to have been built between 525 and 480 BC and has 21 rows of seats.
On the eastern side of the hill, the largest vaulted tomb of the Mycenaean period is preserved, while near the top of the hill there are ruins of other ancient tombs.
Near the archaeological site of Thorikos you will also find the Lavrio Archaeological Museum with finds from all over the area of Lavreotiki, the mines and the excavations at Sounion.