ROUTE INFORMATION – T.B.D. : Spring 2019
- Acropolis of Athens
4/5 Culture Shock
Total Length 150 km
1 Riding Days
Intermediate Skills Level
Hotels and (1) Camping
National Forest of TBD
Middle May – Middle October
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 strait 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 are located the rocky mountain Merenta (614 m), mountain Olympus (487 m) and mountain Panio (648 m) and among them Lavrio with it’s 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 the Bay of Palaio Faliro, we can see 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 it’s 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, where in 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 it 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.
The port of Prasia (Porto Rafti) is next to Keratea and it was of great importance for the city of Athens, because it connected them with Cyclades islands. From this port begun all the celebration ceremonies of Apollo at Delos. At that point we are next to the Archeological area of Brauron.