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Mike's Odyssey to Greece - 2005

Part 13: Marathon

Just over the hill from Athens to the northwest (approximately 26.2 miles away) is the town of Marathon.  Another example of a Greek village name that has taken on whole new meaning in the English language, Marathon was the site of an epic battle between the Greeks and Persians in 490 BC.  In this battle, 25,000 Persian soldiers marched toward Athens, and at Marathon, 9,000 Greeks and 1,000 of their Plataean allies were waiting to stop them.  The military leader of the Greek forces was Miltiades, who ordered the forces split, so that there was a small force in the center and large forces in the wings.  When the Persians attacked, they thought they would quickly punch through the center of the Greek forces, only to be ambushed on either side.  At the end of the day, over 6,000 Persians were killed at a cost of only 192 Greeks.  Following the battle, a messenger was sent to run from the battle site to Athens, where upon he announced the message "We won!" and then keeled over and died.  The bodies of the 192 dead Greeks were cremated and buried in a tomb in a giant mound, which still stands in Marathon today.

The "tumulus" or tomb of the fallen Greek soldiers from the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC.

A statue of Miltiades, the Greek military leader at Marathon.  The tumulus is in the background.

In addition to being the starting site of the Olympic marathon race, Marathon was also home to the rowing competition.  In the following photo taken from atop of the mountain overlooking Marathon, you can see what looks like a canal in the center of the photo.  That is the rowing center.

Aerial view of Marathon
Marathon from one of the foothills of Mount Pendeli.

After leaving the tumulus, we saw signs for the Trophy of Marathon.  We followed these signs down a number of small back roads until we came across a field with a giant pillar in it.  This is the trophy of Marathon.

The Trophy of Marathon.

The first thing we thought was "Wow, this thing is remarkably preserved!"  Then, we read the placard near the trophy, and we discovered that all that remains of the actual trophy is a small fragment of the top of the pillar, which is now housed in the National Museum.  This one is a reproduction of the original trophy built to actual dimensions at the actual site, but likely built sometime just prior to the 2004 Olympics.

But, one of the coolest sites at the trophy location was a small church just a few meters away at the site.  We visited on Good Friday, and they had the chapel decorated with candles and some really cool icons.  Out of reverence, I decided not to take a picture of the inside of the chapel.

The small chapel located at the trophy site.  It is still used, even though it looked like it was abandoned from the outside.

That was about it for Marathon.  There is also a Sanctuary of Egyptian Gods located there, but as it was getting later in the day, we had an choice to either seek out more ancient sites that were, in my humble opinion, somewhat disappointing OR return to Nea Makri and enjoy some more seafood by the Aegean.  Strangely enough, we opted for the latter.

Some cabanas by the beach at Nea Makri.

The sunset at Nea Makri looking east towards Evia.

Part of our rush on this Good Friday was so that I could get to the airport.  Since it was Orthodox Easter, it was a four-day weekend for everyone in Greece, and I decided to take advantage of this opportunity to book a flight out to the island of Santorini.

Continue on to Part 14:  Flight to Santorini (or "Should that be 'Flight to Thira'?")