Updated on December 6th, 2022 by Travel the Greek Way
The Ramnous Archaeological Site is one of the best-preserved ancient sites – demos of Attica. Demos in ancient Athens were similar to today’s municipality, with police powers and their own property, cults, and officials.
The Ramnous Archaeological Site (or Rhamnous or Rhamnus) covers a large area on a picturesque secluded plateau overlooking the Aegean sea, 10km from Marathon, and 53km northeast of Athens. Right across from Ramnous, lies the large beautiful Evia island.
The Ramnous Archaeological Site has two distinct sections:
- the upper section with the remains of the Doric Temple of Nemesis and Themis and various burial monuments and
- the lower section: a downhill dirt track leads to the impressive fortress that reminds of the Mycenean boulders and the remains of the Ramnous city. There the young Athenian soldiers who manned the local guard were performing their two-year army term. The fortress included a temple, a gymnasium, and a theatre.
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FAQ on Ramnous Archaeological Site
Why was the Archaeological Site of Ramnous in such a remote area?
Athens needed to keep an eye on its most important sea passages at all times. So in strategically chosen spots, like in Sounion Cape (with the Temple of Poseidon) and Ramnous, they had built sanctuaries with fortified Acropolis and army to protect the whole settlement.
Ramnous army was also protecting the area, making sure that Athens will keep getting the necessary grains and other foods, especially during the Peloponnesian Wars.
What does “Ramnous” mean
Ramnous is a thorny small tree or bush which used to cover the whole site and can be seen even today upon the hills in the area.
What is the Terrain like in the Ramnous Archaeological Site?
Just like Marathon archaeological site, Ramnous is also surrounded by mountains and hills. Unfortunately, for the time being, the site has no wheelchair ramp and the downhill to the fortification is not paved, so if you have mobility issues, the site may be challenging for you. The ground is dirt with the occasion loose stone and it requires a normal physical condition.
Why is Ramnous a Unique Site?
Because in most of the other famous Greek sites you witness, like in Acropolis of Athens, the monuments were dedicated to gods. Ramnous archaeological site was a real town, with everyday chambers that offer an amazing opportunity to see how ancient Greek cities around 500 BC used to be.
Entrance to the Ramnous Archaeological Site
Outside the site, there is a cluster of trees where you can park your car. There is a small kiosk where you will issue your ticket (€4 per adult, €2 for a child), or you could even have free entrance (mostly for EU citizens).
The map shows how the monuments are located as you walk by them. Most part of the site is not under tree cover so, if you are visiting in the summer, take a hat, plenty of water, a snack, and sunscreen.
Burial Precincts in Ramnous Archaeological Site
As you start walking in the beautiful Attika natural environment of pine, olive trees, and ramnous bushes you find burial monuments on various conditions on both sides of the road.
The ancient Greeks wanted the tombs to be outside the cities but in “passing places” so that people could see the monuments, remember and honor the dead. Obviously, only the rich Greeks had the opportunity to erect such monuments, the poor remain, as today, invisible even after death.
Temples of Nemesis and Themis
The two Doric temples – Nemesis and Themis – sit side by side almost in a parallel fashion but not quite. Nemesis temple was built between 430–420 BC, by the same unknown architect who built the Temple of Hephestus in Ancient Agora in Athens and the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion.
The temple was dedicated to Nemesis, who after being relentlessly stalked by Zeus, she gave birth to Helen of Troy (the Greek wife of Menelaos who left him because she fell in love with Paris, a Troyan prince. That gave the Greeks the “excuse” to start a war against ancient Troy and take its riches).
This temple is the only one in the whole ancient Greek world dedicated to Nemesis.
Nemesis goddess: the Hybris Punisher
Nemesis was the daughter of Oceanus and Justice, a winged goddess holding a whip or a dagger. Nemesis is present in Greek tragedies, always avenging the crimes committed by humans and the hard punisher of “Hybris”.
Hybris: when someone has excessive confidence and arrogance, believing that he is better than everyone else. Then this person violates the physical order, insults the gods and there should be some kind of punishment. The word Hybris is still used in a similar context in modern Greek (minus the divine punishment).
The Nemesis temple in Ramnous (the larger one of two) was the most significant Sanctuary in the whole of ancient Greece.
The smaller temple, dedicated to Themis, the goddess of Justice, was first built in the late 6th century BC.
The excavation team discovered a large 2.22 meters (87 inches) tall, statue of Themis, all carved of Pentelic marble (marble used to build the Parthenon). The Themis statue can be seen today in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
Ramnous Fortifications: the Acropolis
As you leave behind you the two temples, you take the downhill dirt road. Walls and remains of fortifications accompany you as you descend offering a dramatic tone to your hiking.
It was a warm summer day when we were visiting Ramnous so it took us about 15 minutes to reach the entrance for the fortifications and the main town of Ramnous.
From what the archaeologists know, Ramnous was a small demos, electing only 8 members of the Athens Parliament. From this, we understand that the population was just a few thousand, including the slaves. Ramnous though was a wealthy demos.
The house’s design inside the settlement was exactly like the ones found in Athens: an open space – yard and all around the rooms were set.
From the fortress, you can see some of the remains of both of the original ports (now silted), the north and the south. The views are really magnificent.
Unlike most of the Greek archaeological sites, Ramnous has no in-house museum. Some of its precious findings can be seen at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens while the rest are kept at the conservation building in-situ which can be visited on specific dates.
For the time being, there are no information signs about what you see around you while you walk the town, but the Greek Ministry has promised to add them in the near future. As you walk you can see intact drainage systems, walls, doorways, streets, sidewalks, and signposts.
How to Get to Ramnous
There is no public transport to the site but you can get the bus to Marathon (Ramnous is 55 km from Athens ) from Pedio Areos in Athens. You should get there the earliest possible as the site closes at 3.30 pm. The bus ticket is 4.10 euros and the trip to Marathon lasts an hour and 20 minutes. From there it is 20 minutes by taxi. Taxi fare is about 15 euros one way. Take the taxi’s number to let him know when you want to be picked up for the return tour.
Alternatively, as it is easy to find Ramnous by car, you can rent a car and upload the route to your GPS, or hire a professional transfer to drive you around the sites. Let me know if you need reliable transfer services and I can recommend you some of the best in Athens.
- In winter the lower part of Ramnous archaeological site is usually closed, so better call them up to check before you visit
- There is very limited information on the site and poor internet connection
- Better wear closed hiking shoes
- Read more information from the Greek Ministry of Antiquities about Ramnous here
Other Archaeological Sites in Athens
The center of Athens is dominated by the citadel of the Acropolis Hill, the Ancient Agora, the Kerameikos, and the Temple of Zeus (the largest sites). You can read about the Best Sites in Athens and how to visit them here.
Attika, the region where Athens city belongs to, also includes the following unique archaeological sites:
- Sanctuary of Artemis in Vravrona
- Amphiareio of Oropos
- Sanctuary of Poseidon in Sounion Cape
- Fyli Fortress, in Parnitha Mt
Ramnous Nudist Beach
As you stroll the remains of the stunning demos of Ramnous, your eyes keep glancing at the beautiful blue of the nearby sea waters.
There is a small bay there, famous in Athens for attracting nudist swimmers. Ask the archaeological staff for guidance on how to get there if you are interested in getting to the beach. The waters are perfect, crystal clear but there is no drinking water or food available in the area so you better go there prepared.
Limnionas is a nearby area to Ramnous which used to have iron mines back in 1880 but stopped working around 1920. In the photo, you see the remains of the bridge that was used to carry the iron to the ships.
The mountain where the mines are is called Stravaetos and its peak is at only 591 m. The mine bridge was constructed in 1892.
The surrounding mining area is closed to visitors as there are still gorges and deep open ridges – over 100 meters. However, there is a road which one can use that leads to the beautiful beach of Limnionas.
The two Sesi Beaches
Perhaps the easiest and most accessible beaches in the area with taverns and other facilities are the Megalo and Mikro Sesi. Mikro Sesi can get really crowded but it is really nice, has trees and a tavern for a well-deserved lunch and a cooling swim after a hot but very rewarding couple of hours exploring. So you can combine the Ramnous visit with a hike and a swim and have a beautiful full day in the area.
Archaeological Sites Bucket List in Attika
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