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Argo-Saronic: Salamis, Aegina, Agistri, Poros, Hydra, Spetses

By Nigel McGilchrist


336pp (3 island maps, 5 site plans)

More details

£9.95

978-1-907859069

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Aegina's archaeological remains - the well-preserved temple of Aphaia and the ancient site of Kolona - are among the most interesting and important in the Aegean. The deserted site of Palaiochora, the capital of the island during the Byzantine period, with its many scattered churches constitutes a treasure-house of Byzantine painting. The landscape of the island with its many groves of pistachio trees is often beautiful and the summit of Mount Oros provides the best all-round panorama anywhere of the Saronic Gulf and the mountainous coasts of Attica and of the Peloponnese. Angistri has a fine mantle of pines and its beaches are attractive. Salamis, forever linked with the sea battle that changed the course of history, has large areas that are effectively a suburb of Athens. The island also has attractive corners and plenty of interest, including the Mycenaean citadel of Kanakia, reached through a forest of pines and now thought to be the place where Ajax grew up, and the cave where Euripides is said to have retreated. Poros has an elegant town and a tranquil interior, where the important Sanctuary of Poseidon has a beautiful setting but as yet has only been explored to a limited extent. At the beginning of the 19th century Hydra was a more important town than Athens and prospered from its commercial shipping interests, which endowed the island with one of the most strikingly beautiful ports in the Aegean. The rest of the island (where there is a total ban on motorised traffic) is only accessible on foot; the mountainous interior is grand and panoramic with a number of monasteries. Spetses today is a place of contradictions, with widely diverging qualities of tourism and of architecture. The older buildings are languishing while new luxury housing flourishes. And, while non-resident cars are banned, motor-scooters create noise and disturbance in their place. The island's celebrated pine forests have been decimated by repeated fires in the last fifteen years.

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