Paliachora

The haunting remains of Aegina's medieval Paliachora (Old Town), built in the 9th century by islanders whose seaside town was the constant prey of pirates, are found on the rocky, barren hill above the monastery. Capital of the island until 1826, Paliachora has the romantic aura of a mysterious ghost town, a miniature Mistras that still has more than 30 churches (out of the original 365). They are mostly from the 13th century, and a number of them have been restored and are still in use. They sit amid the ruins of the community's houses, abandoned in the early 19th century. Episkopi (often closed), Ayios Giorgios, and Metamorphosi have lovely but faded (by dampness) frescoes. The frescoes of the church of Ayioi Anargyroi are especially fascinating because they are of pagan subjects, such as the mother goddess, Gaia, on horseback and Alexander the Great. The view from the hilltop castle to the beach of Souvala, on the other side of the island, is impressive.

The massive Ayios Nektarios Monastery (22970/53802), 1 km (½ miles) west of Paliachora, is one of the largest in the Balkans. The memory of its saint is celebrated every year on his name day, November 9th.

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