Exploring the archaeological site of Ancient Rhamnous in northeast Attica

The fortified city of ancient Rhamnous, Attica, Greece

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Rhamnous was an ancient Greek city situated in northeast Attica about 55 kilometers away from Athens.

In antiquity, it was best known for the Sanctuary of Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance.

Its strategic position on the east coast of Attica gave Ancient Rhamnous control over the ships passing through the Euboea Strait.

These days, the site of Ancient Rhamnous is an amazing destination for an easy yet fun day trip from Athens filled with history, nature, and stunning sea views!

How to get to Ancient Rhamnous from Athens

The drive to Ancient Rhamnous from the center of Athens took us about one hour. We followed the Lamia highway until the exit for Agios Stefanos.the Marathon road until the Lake of Marathon.

Soon after passing the dam of the lake, we arrived at a village called Vothonas where we turned onto the Agia Paraskevi road heading towards Grammatiko.

From here, we drove along the the Marathon road until the Lake of Marathon. Soon after passing the dam of the lake, we arrived at a village called Vothonas where we turned onto the Agia Paraskevi road heading towards Grammatiko.

In Grammatiko we joined the Marathon – Kapandriti road and continued for another approximately 8 kilometers until we reached the last crossroad before Rhamnous.

We turned left onto Leoforos Rhamnous and followed the road until a small car park in front of the archeological site (Check out the driving directions on Google Maps HERE).

The whole drive through the green hilly countryside around the Lake Marathon and Grammatiko was very pleasant, turning the excursion to the archaeological site of Ancient Rhamnous into an unexpectedly enjoyable road trip.

A view of the fortified cityof Rhamnous from the road to the Rhamous beach.

Opening times & tickets

Ancient Rhamnous has been on my radar for quite some time but planning the visit was a bit tricky.

The site has two parts, the sanctuary of Nemesis which should be open year-round, and the fortified acropolis of Rhamnous open to visitors only during the summer season according to the information I found online.

From our experience, that is not entirely true. During our first visit in May, the whole site was hopelessly closed.

What’s more, reading some reviews on Google this seems to be a regular occurrence, and determining when and which part of the site is open is a challenge.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to discourage anyone from visiting the Ancient Rhamnous, the opposite actually. The site is awesome and well worth the little bit of trouble.

I just recommend calling beforehand to check which part of the site is open (if any) and to have an alternative plan if you find it closed as we did.

Also, keep in mind that the site closes at 15:30 and the staff asked us to head towards the exit 30 minutes before the closing hour.

The ticket for the entire site cost us a mere 4 euros, but again I recommend checking the official site for up-to-date information.

Information table near the temple of Nemesis at the archaeological site of Ancient Rhamnous.

Wandering through the archaeological site of Ancient Rhamnous

The archeological site of Ancient Rhamnous is huge and you’ll need at least 1-2 hours to explore it in its entirety.

Make sure to wear a comfy pair of walking shoes as the terrain is rough and rocky.

Also, don’t forget to bring enough water, snacks and a hat as there is no refreshment on the site and very little shade.

The Sanctuary of Nemesis

The first part of the site covers the area of the sanctuary of Nemesis, the ancient goddess of retribution.

The remains of two temples can be seen here, the smaller one dating back to the late 6th century BC and the larger temple, devoted to Nemesis and Themis, built around 460 BC.

In antiquity, this was the most important site devoted to the goddess of Nemesis in Greece. Check out THIS post to learn more about Nemesis and her place in the plentiful Greek mythology.

A road from the entrance to the site towards the temple of Nemesis.
One of the information tables at the rchaeological site of Ancient Rhamnous near the templae of Nemesis.
Archaeological site of Ancient Rhamnous in Attica, Greece
The fruit of the opuntia cactus or prickly pear.
Sanctuary of Nemesis at Rhamnous
Sanctuary of Nemesis at Rhamnous

The fortified city

From the sanctuary, a rocky trail descends towards the sea among the walls of the burial precinct. After a while, we started catching the first glimpses of the fortified acropolis of Rhamnous perched on a small hill above the sea.

Walking through the green, hilly countryside taking in the breathtaking views of the ancient city with the wild seas and the towering mountains of Euboea as a backdrop was my favorite part of our visit to Rhamnous.

To enter the city we passed through the imposing southern (main) gate guarded by two six-meter tall square towers.

From the gate, we wandered along the narrow lanes of the fortress discovering a theatre, gymnasium, a small sanctuary of Dionysos, and several other public buildings and dwellings.

At the base of the hill, two small harbors used to serve the vessels patrolling the Gulf of Euboea. The Fortress of Rhamnous is believed to have been constructed during the Peloponnesian War to oversee the ships bringing grain to Athens.

But for me, Ancient Rhamnous was one of those archaeological sites where the year numbers, war specifics and unpronounceable names of the long-gone kings were not important.

It was one of those sites where simply walking along the centuries-old paths among the crumbling temples and walls traveled me in time for a second.

It made me feel close to the people of the old days whose lives were so different from ours but their struggles and joys probably very much the same. And that’s exactly what visiting the Greek archaeological sites is all about, at least for me.

The ancient road connecting the sanctuary of Nemesis with the fortified city of Rhamnous passing along burial precincts
A view of the fortified acropols of Rhamnous from the ancient road
The coast of Rhamnous
The fortified city of Rhamnous
Them main southern gate at the entrance to the city
Inside the fortress of Rhamnous
Inside the fortress of Rhamnous
Inside the fortress of Rhamnous
Inside the fortress of Rhamnous
Inside the fortress of Rhamnous
Inside the fortress of Rhamnous
Inside the fortress of Rhamnous

What else to see & do nearby

  • Rhamnous Beach

The coast near Ancient Rhamnous is remote and wild, accessible only by broken dirt roads or on foot. The beaches we encountered were small and rocky, in places dotted with garbage washed ashore from the sea (an unfortunate yet common sight on many remote Greek beaches). We still enjoyed exploring this forgotten coast frequented only by fishermen and a few nudists.

  • Schinias

For an easier and more organized visit to the beach head to Schinias some 10 kilometers away. This sandy, 5-kilometer-long beach is one of the best in Attica and the perfect place for a relaxing break. The surrounding pine forest and wetlands not only serve as a pretty backdrop but also as an amazing place for easy hiking and bird watching.

  • Varnava stream

For a completely different kind of scenery head to Varnava about 20 kilometers to the west. About halfway between the villages of Varnava and Kapandriti lies a beautiful valley of the Varnava stream, shaded by lush green plane trees.

There is a small canteen on the side of the road serving coffee and beer and a couple of trails running up and down along the banks of the stream. On a sunny day, this place is a shady oasis offering an escape from the heat under the thick canopy of trees.

  • Marathonas Lake

The Lake of Marathon is another place worth a visit on your way back to Athens. Driving across the marble-clad, 54 meters high dam is an experience on its own. But make sure to stop at its shore for a little while to enjoy the tranquility of the lake and its lovely green surroundings.

A road leading to the Agia Marina church at the coast of Rhamnous
Agia Marina church at the coast of Rhamnous
The coastline near the ancient city of Rhamnous

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