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If you are looking for an easy day trip from Athens or even just an afternoon away from the city Vravrona is an ideal choice. Its main attraction, the Temple of Artemis of Brauron, is on its own worth the trip but there is more to see around.
Vravrona lies in a lush green valley of Erasinos river on the eastern coast of Attika. It is a countryside full of fig tree orchards, tiny vineyards and colorful flowers blooming along the roads, at least during the marvelous Greek spring. The delta of Erasinos river and surrounding wetlands serve as habitat to many species of birds, small animals, and plants and is protected under Natura 2000.
The best way to visit Vravrona is by car. The drive from Athens only takes around half an hour and road trip through the valley will give you enough freedom to explore all its attractions.
To get to Vravrona follow Attiki Odos towards the airport leaving the highway for Spata. At Spata, you’ll start seeing signs for Vravrona and after a while reach at the seaside. In another five minutes, you’ll meet a crossroad with another sign pointing to the left towards the Archaeological site of Vravrona and museum. For a round trip, continue to Markopoulo on the way back passing by the ruins of an Early Christian Basilica and the Vravrona Tower before jumping back on the highway.
Vravrona can be reached by the Athenian Public Transport as well but it is not going to be as comfortable. There is a bus number 304 starting from Nomismatokopio Metro Station going to Vravrona. The ride takes at least an hour and the bus stops approximately 2 kilometers away from the archaeological site.
Vravrona or Brauron was one of the oldest settlements of Attica best known for its sanctuary dedicated to Artemis Brauroneion, the goddess of wilderness, fertility, and childbirth.
According to a myth (or at least one of them), king Agamemnon passing through Bauron during his voyage to Troy killed a favorite stag of Artemis enraging the goddess. In order to regain her favor, he decided to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia. Artemis saved the girl making her main priestess at the sanctuary.
In antiquity, the sanctuary was sought after mainly by young girls approaching womanhood in order to participate in secret rituals called arkteia preparing them for married life. Every four years, it also hosted the Brauronia Festival, a procession starting at the Acropolis of Athens and ending in Bauron, including fasting, music and athletic games.
Today, only a few of the sanctuary’s building can be seen at the site, including remains of the Temple of Artemis, a stoa, stone bridge, Iphigenias tomb, and sacred spring. The site itself is quite small but nicely preserved with comfortable pathways and plenty of information tables all around.
It includes a museum as well, hosting the excavation founds from Vravrona and other archaeological sites of Attica. We almost skipped visiting the museum in favor of spending more time outside at the ruins but I’m so glad we decided to poke in at the end.
All the five rooms of the museum are filled with a wide collection of artifacts found on the site, including statues, household objects, votives, and funerary reliefs. It is very well organized with plenty of information split into easily digested chunks.
There is an entrance fee of 3 euros during the winter or 6 through the main season including entrance to both the archaeological site a museum. The site closes at 15:30 so arrive early to have enough time for explorations and to avoid the inpatient staff watching your every step right before the closing hour (for more info about the entrance fees and opening hours click HERE).
Vravrona wetlands spread between the archaeological site and the coast following the river basin of Erasinos. The marches and wet meadows are home to many species of birds, fish, and small animal species and are protected under the Natura 2000 network.
If you come to Vravrona by bus, you’ll pass through the wetlands on your way from the bus stop to the archaeological site. But even if coming by car don’t miss the opportunity for a short stroll through this lush landscape.
There are multiple paths crossing the marshlands and information tables providing a peek into the rich wildlife of the area. In March, the paths were quite muddy and completely unpassable at some spots. But dirty shoes were a small price to pay for a beautiful nature-filled walk through colorful wildflowers, ponds swirling with tadpoles and
bushes brimming over with chirping birds.
On the way back to Athens watch out for the Vravrona tower sitting on a low hill on the right side of the road just before Markopoulo. The Frankish watchtower, dating back to 13th century, is one of the best-preserved structures of its kind in Attica (check out these other two as well – Oinoi Tower at Marathon and Anthousa Tower at Mt.Hymettus).
Or, if coming during the summer, head back to Loutsa to spend the rest of the day at its surprisingly stunning beach with fine sand, shallow water, and few windsurfing hotspots.