The Temple of Artemis Brauron in Athens, Greece: Located on the eastern side of Attica, the Sanctuary of Brauronian Artemis was among the most important sacred sites in the ancient times. Vravrona (or Brauron), about 20 km from Athens, was one of the 12 towns of Attica that was united to Athens by Theseus.
The first inhabitants were settled in Vravrona in about 3,500 B.C. and they were Pelasgians in tribe. Gradually the town developed around an acropolis and many important politicians of Athens originated from Brauron, including Miltiades, Cimon and the tyrant Pesistratus. In fact, it was the tyrant of Athens, Pesistratus, and his sons who originally founded this cult of Artemis in the 6th century B.C.
The ancient temple of Artemis is of Doric style and flourished in the 5th-4th century B.C. According to a myth, this is the temple where Iphigeneia was brought by her brother Orestes, when they met in the land of Tauris, where she served as a priestess in a local temple of Artemis. Iphigeneia had been transfered to Tauris by goddess Artemis herself, when she saved her from the sacrifice in Aulis. Returning to Greece, Iphigeneia brought with her a wooden statue of Artemis from Tauris.
In the Temple of Brauronian Artemis, the goddess was culted as the protector of nature and women. She was mostly culted as the protector of child delivery. In fact, women who had a good delivery offered their clothes and personal items to goddess Artemis, while the clothes of women who died during delivery were offered to the grave of Iphigeneia, who was considered a chthonic deity (deity of the Underworld). The grave of Iphigeneia can be seen even today in a cave in the archaeological site.
Every four years, an important festival was also taking place to honor the goddess. A parade with girls aged 5-10 dedicated to the goddess would start from the centre of Athens and would terminate in the temple. The girls were wearing furs of bear, the sacred animal of the goddess. This was like a preparation process that symbolized the passage from childhood to youth and marriage. In fact, most items found in this archaeological site were female personal items, clothes and jewerly.
In the ancient site of Brauronian Artemis, visitors can see today the remains of the temple, the sanctuary of Iphigeneia, the gymnasium and other buildings. Many findings have been transferred to the interesting Archaeological Museum of Vravrona and other in the new Acropolis Museum. The surrounding nature is lovely and you will see a stream crossing the site. This small river has been crossing the site since the ancient times and has caused many problems to the buildings. Actually it was due an overflow of this river that the temple was abandoned in the 3rd century B.C.