Attica Region, Greece (Athenian Riviera)
Best Riding Period: May – November
5/5 Cultural Shock
- Acropolis of Athens (UNESCO)
- Acropolis Museum
- The Prison of Socrates, The Pnyx
- Ancient Agora of Athens
- Temple Of Poseidon, Cape Sounio
- Ancient Mining Laundries, Lavrio
- Ancient Theater of Thoriko
- Temple Of Artemis, Brauron
National Park of Sounion
Tour Starts / Ends in Glyfada, Athens
Total Mileage: 160 km (100 miles)
2 Riding Days / 1 Night
Riding Skills: Novice / Intermediate
Off-road Percentage: 0% to 10%
Maximum Participants: 8 Riders/Group
4×4 Support Vehicle: Upon Request
2 Breakfasts & 1 Dinner
Spoken languages: Greek, English, Italian
Athens Airport (ATH) Transfer Included
Brochure (coming soon)
On the southern edge of the Greek capital lies the alluring Apollo Coast, still defined as greater Athens. Its palm tree-lined esplanades and idyllic beaches dominate a unique slice of Mediterranean coastline with laid-back elegance, a history of jet-set glamour and the feeling of spending quality time on a Greek island.
This is the Athenian Riviera, starting from the port of Piraeus all the way to Cape Sounion along the coastal Poseidonos Ave, named after the god of the sea Poseidon.
One can enjoy a fully-fledged holiday in Greece, enjoy the Mediterranean sun and sea, visit some of the most important archeological sites, enjoy the iconic coastline ride, spend quality time in the most glamorous location of Greece and all without ever leaving the capital. This two-day adventure is designed as a 100% tarmac introduction into our routes and historical/architectural approach. There is always an option to include 10% off-road riding through the Sounio National Park and practice your skills in the Greek hard terrain.
The Sounio National park was established in 1974 and with just 5.250 acres is the smallest national park of Greece. Even though the countryside of the park is beautiful the main treasures lie underneath. Under the green hills covered by pine forests lies a land rich in minerals, such as lead, iron or silver.
The beginnings of the mining industry in the area of Lavreotiki date back to the 3rd century BC. However, the golden years of Lavrio come at around 6th and 5th century with the advancement in technology. The silver of Lavrio brought great wealth to Athens and contributed to the victory of the Greeks against the Persians at the battle of Salamina. The mining continued on and off through the ages until finally coming to the end at the 20th centuries leaving behind an area riddled with tunnels, caves, and galleries. There are several archaeological sites of the ancient workshops scattered over the hills and uncountable ruined dwellings and plants from later times. One of the most impressive highlights of the area is the gulch of Chaos, a circular sinkhole with walls up to 50m that was probably created by collapsing ceiling of an unexplored cave.
Acropolis of Athens
As the rhetorician and satirist Lucian wrote “… ascending to the Acropolis I flew over the cliff …” towards the land of Hades, the Necromanteion of Acheron, with the help of the psychopomp Hermes. On our right, we saw the Agora of Athens and on our left the Pnyx, where the assembly of the citizens took place (Ecclesia). After a while we were passing over the temple of Artemis Aristovouli, that was discovered accidentally in June 1958 during the construction of a small private house at the junction of Nileos Street and Irakleidon Street at Thission. In front of the small Greek temple, an engraved column was discovered dedicating the temple to goddess Artemis Aristovouli, the foundation of which was personally insured by Themistocles. Exiting the walls of Athens, we pass over the Gate of Piraeus, leaving to our right the Double Gate and the Graveyard of the Kerameikos.
Further down we came across the Sacred Lake (Lake Koumoundourou), to the right of the Reidi (salty sacred lakes used for cleansing), where during the celebration of the Mysteries of Eleusis the honor guard of Athens awaited wearing black tunics. Leaving behind Mount Aigaleo, where Xerxes watched, to our left, the Battle of Salamis. And behold, Hermes showed me the vast ritual center of Eleusis bellow us.
It was during the month of Hekatombaion (July- August) of 415 B.C. and as we found out Alcibiades along with Nicias and Lamachus already were on board the Athenian ships alongside the troops on their way to Sicily. When the men boarded the ship, the usual prayers and toasts were performed with gold and silver cups, with the participation of the citizens. After the hymns were chanted, the ships reached the open sea. They descended along the eastern Peloponnese and bypassing the Cape of Maleas, just outside of Cythera, after having circled around Laconia and Messenia, ascended to the western Peloponnese, passing between Zakynthos and Cephalonia and Lefkada, heading to the north of Corfu, to reach across, Southern Italy.
Before we reach Brauron, I would like to narrate about some places that I see from the top of Mountain Hymettus, since I will be sitting here with my friend the Owl to gaze Attica, which we can see at a distance of 50 km from here because of the great clarity of the sky.
On my right side, I can see the Bay of Palaio Faliro where the port of Attica used to be, the only port of Athens in the Saronic Gulf. From this port, Theseus, the son of Aethra and Aegeus, was sent by the Athenians to Crete along with seven young men and seven young women as a human sacrifice to Minotaur. According to the myth, after Theseus killed Minotaur, he forgot to put the white sails to his ship while returning home and his father, waiting at Cape Sounio, saw the black sails instead and thinking that his son was killed, jumped into the sea and drowned.
Sounio, the place where king Aegeus died, is located in a straight line 38 km from the top of Mountain Hymettus, southeast of Attica. It is the exact place where an arrow from God Apollo killed the captain of Menelaus ship (the husband of Helen of Troy), on their way back to Sparta from the Trojan War. On the leveled top of Cape Sounio is located the Temple of Poseidon, constructed by Pericles in 444 BC, in the exact place of an older Peripteron temple destroyed by Persian king Xerxes in 490 BC.
The Temple of Poseidon is a Doric Peripteral style temple with (6) columns at the facades and (13) columns on the longer sides, so (6×13) that has a “code” based on the columns K(6)(1)(3)(4)(10), where (6) refers to HARMONY. It is said that the temple is aligned with the exact location of Atlantis where there was placed a bigger altar. Plato was often talking about this lost island and since then everybody was trying to find it. I know a lyric about Atlas, the son of Poseidon and Kleito.
“And the high columns on which the Earth
he is holding,
At the starry dome they end and the spheres they brace
And the spheres they brace”
On the smaller hill northeast of Temple of Poseidon, lay the ruins of the Temple of Athena Souniada that was worshiped since the very early years as protector of the City of Athens. In this exact place, Menelaus conducted a ceremony for the Captain of his ship, Fronti.
Further north from Cape Sounio is located the rocky mountain Merenta (614 m), mountain Olympus (487 m) and mountain Panio (648 m) and among them Lavrio with its rich soil that brought great prosperity to the city of Athens, through the extraction of silver and lead, and allowed Themistocles and the Athenians to create a powerful fleet.
Going back to the Bay of Palaio Faliro, we can see the place where Menestheus started with his fleet the voyage towards the Trojan War, and at this place, the Long Walls of Athens used to end. Further down from Faliro we can see the area of Ammos where Thucydides, the great historian from the 5th century BC. was coming from. Every year the women of that township were celebrating Thesmophoria, a mystical fest about Euphoria and Vegetation.
Continuing my visual journey from the western seaside of Attica to the south, I can see the area of Agios Kosmas, across the old airport of Athens, where were discovered the ruins of the Cycladic citadel from the Copper Age (around 2.300BC.). During the historical years, it is said that the wind brought here, from Salamina, the wrecks from Xerxe’s fleet. Further down the road, where it branches towards the region of Vari, excavations brought in the light the remains of the Ancient municipality of Aixoni.
On the way to Vouliagmeni, we cross Cape Zoster (or Laimos Vouliagmenis). There we find the Temple of Apollo Zoster, Artemis and Leto. According to the myth, in that area, Leto felt that the time of her childbirth was approaching and unbound her belt, despite the fact that that goddess Hera was hunting her and had forbidden any kind of help towards Leto. Hera convinced the dragon Python (the earth-dragon of Delphi) that the child to be born would deprive the Oracle of Delphi from him and for this reason he had to kill Leto. On our way to Varkiza, we pass through Vouliagmeni Lake with its sulfurous water that is suitable for skin diseases and rheumatic conditions. Further down, in Varkiza Bay, we can see the three little islands of Apollo, Artemis, and Leto on which exist corresponding Altars.
On the north side of Vari, just after the town’s cemetery, there is the Cave of Archedemos (Nympholyptos Cave). Nympholepsy was the belief of the ancient Greeks that individuals could be possessed by the Nymphs. Individuals who considered themselves nympholepts would display a great religious devotion to the nymphs. It is a unique landmark with carved statues from sculptor Archedemos of Thira, wherein the 5th century BC, he transformed the cave to a place of worship of the Nymphs, Apollo and Pan.
Further down the road south, we come across the region of Anavyssos where Kroisos Kouros, an interesting marble Kouros (Ancient Greek: κοῦρος) statue was found. He functioned as a grave marker for a fallen young warrior named Kroîsos (Κροῖσος). The free-standing sculpture strides forward with the “archaic smile” playing slightly on his face. The sculpture is dated to c. 540–515 BC and stands 1.95 meters high. The inscription on the base of the statue reads: “Stop and show pity beside the marker of Kroisos, dead, whom, when he was in the front ranks, raging Ares destroyed”. The statue is now situated in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
From Anavyssos we proceed to the National Park of Sounion, established in 1979. This is a very interesting historical area of 35.000 acres with Geological and Paleontological foundings. From there we reach Sounio and after that Lavrio as we have mentioned above.
North of Lavrio exists the ancient municipality of Thoricus, one of the 12 municipalities of Attica, that was the Industrial Centre of Lavrio mineral mines of and on this area there have been discovered two vaulted tombs of the Mycenaean Age. Continuing our way north, we cross the area of Keratea where, on the southwest side of Mount Panio is located the Cave of Pan, with stalactites and stalagmites and a beautiful lake about 950 square meters for a visitor to sightsee.
At that point, we are next to the Archeological area of Brauron.