Aegina History

According to ancient mythology, Aegina owes its name to the nymph Aegina, daughter of the river god Asopus, who Zeus seduced and took on the island of Aegina, then called Oenone. There she gave birth to Aecus, the first king of the island and grandfather of the famous Trojan hero, Achilles. Aecus renamed the island Aegina, in honor of his mother. Archaeological findings in Kolona, near the island's capital, prove that the history of Aegina starts from the Neolithic period, as the island has been inhabited since 3,000 BC.

Aegina saw its economical and naval power grow around the middle of the second millennium BC, developing its trade and carrying with its own ships local products to the Cyclades, Crete, and to the Greek Mainland. To honor the gods for this prosperity, the inhabitants built temples to them. In Kolona, there are also the remains of an ancient Temple to Apollo, while in the center of the island, among mountainside, there is the temple of Ellanios Zeus.

The island's glory exploded during the 6th and 7th century BC when its naval power reached the zenith of its development, its trade was at its best, extending even until Egypt and Phoenicia and because Aegina was the first part of Greece, even of Europe, to mint coins: the famous silver turtle coins, since the symbol of the island was the turtle. In these centuries, the island was very wealthy: those were the golden times of Aegina.

The powerful fleet of the island made a major contribution during the Battle of Salamis against the Persians, on the side of the Greeks. After the Persian defeat, Aegina continued to flourish and its inhabitants built the superb Temple of Aphaia. Unfortunately, things changed: the Athenians did not see the economic, social and naval glory of Aegina with a good eye. They attacked it in 459 BC and forced it to pull down its city walls and surrender its fleet.

After that, Aegina sank into geopolitical obscurity and lived the same history as the rest of Greece. The domination by Philip of Macedonia followed by the one of his son, Alexander the Great, then his successors, the Ptolemies of Egypt, the Roman rule (about 86 AD), followed by the Byzantine Times, the Venetian domination and the Turkish yoke until the Revolution of 1921.

Aegina played a major role in the Greek Revolution fighting against the Turks and from 1827 to 1829 the island was declared the temporary capital of the partly liberated Greece. That time the village flourished a lot and many institutions were built, such as the first secondary school in Greece and the Eunardios School by a Swiss banker. But, with the creation of the Modern Greek State in 1930, Aegina returned to its shadow and to its more humble position of the first producer of pistachio nuts in Greece.