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The Town of Aegina

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Aegina, the island's capital is a visual collage made up of rich historical material. As you approach the harbour, you see the Byzantine chapel of Agios Nikolaos, a small, dazzling-white plain structure that speaks of piety. Just a few decades ago, as the fishing boats would sail out of the harbour at dawn past this little church, the men would stand on deck and say a prayer to the patron saint of seamen to keep them safe in a storm. Legends, stories and myths recorded on every rock the eye can see. To the left, the lone column of Kolona sits atop the hill, a remnant of the first settlement on the island in the Neolithic Age. The entire history of Greek civilisation unfolds around it. Straight ahead - the waterfront, with its row of neoclassical structures in soft hues and harmoniously balanced lines. They are from another era, harbingers of the urbanisation that came with the founding of the first free Greek state. Yachts, sailboats, small fishing boats and caiques, a marketplace with floating greengrocers, stylish coffee shops and traditional cafés forgotten by time, horse-drawn carriages of wood and leather, tavernas and ouzeries, and in the distance, a tall, stone bell tower adorning a graceful Byzantine church at the right end of the harbour - signs of contemporary life. The infinite blue of sea and sky - eternity. Proceed further - there's much more to see. The fish market which has fed, educated and married off generations of boys and girls, a long, narrow gallery that remains the core of the island, more vibrant than ever with crates brimming with fresh fish arriving morning and night from the boats and caiques. The narrow lanes are another adventure altogether. How can these visions of 19th century Kapodistrian buildings share the same tableau as the humble, whitewashed cottages next to them? How is it possible to reconcile the energetic youths stepping in and out of the popular bars, with the elderly black-clad women setting out their chairs to chat with their neighbour? It is possible, and all in a spirit of joyous friendship and acceptance of life, ever-changing but always with something beautiful to offer. It's only natural that art and a sense of aesthetic beauty would overflow from every corner: novel little shops with original handmade items, unexpected hideouts, exhibitions and performances all year round - just a taste of the Town of Aegina.

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