Generally speaking, it corresponded to a coastal area surrounding the cities of Akte and Paralia. The Mesogeia is bounded on the north by Mount Parnitha, Penteli and Hymettus; on the east by the Euboean Gulf and Myrrhinous; and on the south by the mountains of Lavrio, Paneion Oros and Laureotic Olympus.
The small coastal town of Lavrio is a quaint area that was once a thriving silver mining region. Today it is a charming place that attracts visitors from all over the world who come to enjoy its beautiful beaches, restaurants, and cafes. The town has a long history and it is also home to the famous Thorikos hill which features an ancient theater and some domed Mycenean tombs.
Lavrio is one of the three ports of Athens and during high season there are up to five daily ferries going from this port to the island of Kea. From the port, it is also possible to travel to the islands of Kythnos, Syros, Tinos, and Andros.
From the piers at Lavrio you can visit the archaeological site of Thorikos which is home to an ancient theater that dates back to the 6th century BC. There are also some domed Mycenean tombs and the ruins of a tympanic fountain here.
In the past, the tympanic fountain was used for water supply in the city of Athens and in the surrounding area. Nowadays, it is a charming sight and a popular spot for photo shoots.
There are many different activities in the area that you can enjoy, from walking to hiking and horse riding. You can also explore the southeastern part of Attica which is enlisted in the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage Sites. This part of the region has spectacular flora and fauna as well as historic sites.
In addition to the historical aspects, there are many cultural events that take place in and around Lavrio throughout the year. The most famous is the annual festival held in August called Lykourgos which is a traditional musical event that celebrates the end of summer.
The area that surrounds Lavrio is full of wineries and this is another great reason why you should spend some time here. You can tour the vineyards with a professional oenologist and learn more about the process of making wine as well as sample some of the local varieties. You can also opt to have a four course dinner with the family that runs the winery and have a taste of their delicious local cuisine.
In the C5th and C6th BC, the Athenians were the dominant power in a large region of the Mediterranean, including parts of Asia Minor. During this period they established several colony cities on the coast and in the interior of Thrace. One of these was the city of Paneion Oros. Located north of Lavrio, the ruins of this ancient town reveal a fascinating example of Athenians’ technology in mining and ore purification. Its impressive theatre was built in the 5th century B.C., and a unique ore purification workshop can still be seen on the industrial pier.
Paneion Oros is also an important location for wine production in southeast Attica. The grape variety Savvatiano is particularly well suited to this area and produces wines of high quality. In recent years, these wines have found new markets abroad as well. In addition, the winery is a valuable cultural and historical monument.
IG II2 2776 refers four times to plots that are situated “en mesogeia”. However, since the restoration of this text is not complete, it is not possible to determine what is meant by this expression. Moreover, it is also unclear whether the term mesogeia refers to some specific neighborhood of Pallene, since the same expression is used elsewhere in this inscription without any connection with Pallene.
The Athenians divided Attica into a hundred demes, which were grouped into three large sectors: the city (astu), which consisted of central Athens, Ymittos and Aegaleo; the coast (paralia), which included the area between the deme of Eleusis and Cape Sounion; and the interior (mesogeia). The boundaries of these demes were defined by ridge lines that separated them from the surrounding areas. Each civic unit would include equal numbers of townspeople, seamen and farmers and was headed by a trittys.
Our tour of the Mesogeia will take you to visit one of the oldest wineries in the area and meet its owner, a professional oenologist. You will have the opportunity to enjoy generous wine tastings accompanied by Greek mezes snacks. During this excursion, we will also visit Cape Sounion at Attica’s southeastern tip, where the sacred Temple of Poseidon is located.
The rocky peninsula of Methana opposite Athens is one of Europe’s least known active volcanic areas. It is comprised of a series of prehistoric and one historic (around 238 BC) lava domes that overlie limestone basement. Methana is part of the Saronic Gulf Volcanic Arc which also includes Sousaki, Aegina and Poros.
It was home to silver mining from ancient times, a vital source of income for the Athenians. This was a particularly productive area, and at its height the mines produced more than 2,500 tons per year. Today, the mines have been reclaimed and converted to leisure facilities.
There are also archaeological ruins and sanctuaries from the 5th century BC, such as that of Zeus Obrios on Mt Ymittos and Apollo Proopsios on a plateau in Filiati, and Byzantine churches such as those of the Virgin of Koursalas and the Panagia of Koropi, built by Georgios Markos in 1732. The only remaining natural forest in the Attic plain is located on the slopes of Mt Parnitha, between the neighborhoods of Kifisia and Melissia.
According to Thucydides, Athenians hoped for the intervention of allies in the mesogeia: “when the armament of the Athenians reached the river Cacyparis they marched on, intending to follow this stream into the interior” (VII 80.5). Unfortunately the text on which this is based is fragmentary and it is unclear exactly what mesogeia meant at that time.
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of Athens with a trip to the stylish southern suburbs of Glyfada, which are full of hip bars and restaurants that exude youthful energy. You can also stroll along the Attic coast, which has many picturesque beaches. On the Saronic Gulf islands you will discover an entirely different atmosphere, from the cosmopolitan Hydra with its grand mansions, 18th-century captains’ homes and quaint Old Port to stately Aegina with its Capodistrian buildings and floating grocers, and tiny, pine-studded Spetses. Wine enthusiasts can visit the local wineries and taste some of Greece’s finest varietals. And those who want to explore the natural beauty of this region can go hiking in the wooded mountains and relax on golden beaches.
In the C5th BC the Athenians expanded their territory by launching a series of military expeditions. They colonised the Mediterranean coast and Black Sea, and also ravaged the Peloponnesian states of Corinth and Sparta. This expansion was accompanied by a great deal of territorial disputes between the various city states in Greece.
Thucydides tells us that the Athenians had difficulty dealing with the interior of their country. He describes their retreat from Sicily in terms of “proelthontes de tes Thrakes es mesogeian” (they crossed over into the mesogeia). In a similar vein, when they were at war with the Sicels in the C8th BC, the Athenians hoped for help from the mesogeia: “they reached the sea and marched on toward the sea-shore, intending to follow this river stream up to the interior of the land (epaurion na te koordino ta mesogeia)”.
The mesogeia, or interior of the southeastern triangle of Attica, is defined by its geographical position on the shore of the Saronic Gulf. It is surrounded by mountain ranges, such as the cithaeron and Parnes. During antiquity, it was an area of fertile farmland with a lot of water and forests. It was also a place of ancient sanctuaries and burial grounds.
In modern times, the mesogeia has been transformed by the growth of Athens and its suburbs, which are often characterized by heavy industrial activity and urban sprawl. The city’s dozens of streams, which kept the area cool and attracted swarms of mosquitoes, have been covered over with asphalt, and its formerly dense vegetation has been denuded.
Today, the mesogeia is a region of vineyards and wineries, and offers many other experiences to visitors. They can enjoy generous wine tastings, visit archaeological sites and museums, relax on picturesque beaches, or take in the beauty of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio. In addition, there are many opportunities to learn about Greek gastronomy and tradition at traditional tavernas in the area. All these elements, together with the region’s rich cultural heritage, make the Mesogeia an ideal destination for anyone seeking a unique experience.