Ramnous Archaeological Site: An Unknown City-Fort in Athens

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.

A woman walking at the fortress of Ramnous, Greece.
The Fortress of Ramnous, Greece

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.

Fortress of Ramnous and a woman walking in a sunny day in Ramnous Athens Greece.
Ramnous Fortification

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.
Over View to the sea and some hikers of Lower Ramnous Archaeological in Athens Greece.
Overview of Lower Ramnous Archaeological Site

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  • Why is Ramnous a Unique Site?

    Two people walking on the main road in Ramnous Archaeological site in a sunny day in Athens Greece.
    Main Road: On the left were the public buildings on the right the private houses

    Because in most of the other famous Greek sites you witness, like the Acropolis of Athens, the monuments were dedicated to gods. Ramnous archaeological site was a real town and offers the opportunity to see how ancient Greek cities around 500 BCE used to be.

    Entrance to the Ramnous Archaeological Site

    Some olive trees and a sign of the Ramnous Archaeological site view in Athens Greece.
    Side view of the Entrance at Ramnous 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 Route of Ramnous Site.
    The Map Route of Ramnous Site – Wikipedia

    The map shows how the monuments are located as you walk by them. Most 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 apply sunscreen.

    Ramnous Archeological and two people walking in a sunny day in Athens Greece.

    Burial Precincts in Ramnous Archaeological Site

    A Round Burial Monument with trees and bushes in Ramnous Athens Greece.
    Burial Monument in Ramnous

    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.

    A woman walking in Ramnous Archaeological Site in Athens Greece.

    The ancient Greeks wanted the tombs to be outside the cities but in “passing places” so that people could see the monuments, and remember and honor the dead. 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

    Ramnous Archaeological Site and a sign  saying Iero Nemeseos in Athens Greece.

    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 BCE, 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 of Nemesis in Ramnous with some trees in a sunny day in Athens Greece.
    Temple of Nemesis

    The temple was dedicated to Nemesis, who after being relentlessly stalked by Zeus, 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

    Themis Temple, trees and bushes in a sunny day in Ramnous Archaeological Site in Athens.
    Themis Temple

    Nemesis was the daughter of Oceanus and Justice, a winged goddess holding a whip or a dagger. She is present in Greek tragedies, always avenging the crimes committed by humans and the hard punisher of “Hybris”.

    Nemesis Temple with trees in a sunny day in Ramnous Archaeological Site in Athens.
    Nemesis Temple

    Hybris: when someone has excessive confidence and arrogance, believing that he is better than everyone else. Then this person violates the physical order and 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).

    A recreation of Temple of Nemesis by Archaeologist in Ramnous Athens Greece.
    A recreation of Temple of Nemesis by Archaeologist Vasilios Petrakos

    The Nemesis temple in Ramnous (the larger one of the two) was the most significant Sanctuary in the whole of ancient Greece.

    Goddess Themis and a woman beside the statue in Ramnous Archaeological Site in Athens.
    Goddess Themis – Tilemahos Efthimiadis

    The smaller temple, dedicated to Themis, the goddess of Justice, was first built in the late 6th century BCE. 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

    Two women walking in a sunny day in Ramnous Archeological Site in Athens.

    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.

    Ramnous Archeological Site and a tree in a sunny day in Athens.

    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 but wealthy demos, electing just 8 members of the Athens Parliament. From this, we understand that the population was just a few thousand, including the slaves.

    The south main marble entrance to the fortress of Ramnous in a sunny day in Ramnous Archeological Site in Athens.
    The south main marble entrance to the fortress of Ramnous

    The house’s design inside the settlement was exactly like the ones found in Athens: an open space – a yard and all around the rooms were set.

    The rooms inside the fortress and a tree in a sunny day in Ramnous Archeological Site in Athens.
    The rooms inside the fortress of Ramnous

    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 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.

    Friezes from Nemesis Temple, in the conservation area in Ramnous Archaeological Site in Athens.
    Friezes from Nemesis Temple, in the conservation area – cognoscoteam

    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 soon. As you walk you can see intact drainage systems, walls, doorways, streets, sidewalks, and signposts.

    A map the Fortress of Ramnous Acropolis in Athens.
    The Fortress of Ramnous Acropolis – Recreation by Vasileios Petrakos
    A room in Ramnous Archaeological Site in a sunny day in Athens.
    A House on the left and the main road of the fortress on the right and a woman walking in a sunny day in Ramnous Archeological Site in Athens.
    House on the left and the main road of the fortress on the right
    Marble desk used for basic arithmetic in Ramnous Archaeological Site in Athens.
    Marble desk used for basic arithmetic – found on the walls

    How to Get to Ramnous

    A sign of Ramnous Archaeological Site in Athens.

    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 as soon as possible as the site closes at 3.30 pm. From there it is 20 minutes by taxi. The taxi fare is about €15 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.

    USEFUL TIPS:

    • In winter the lower part of the Ramnous archaeological site is usually closed, so better to call them up to check before you visit. +30  22940-63477
    • There is very limited information on the site and a poor internet connection.
    • You better wear hiking shoes.

    Other Archaeological Sites in Athens

    The center of Athens is dominated by the citadel of the Acropolis Hill, the Ancient Agora, the Kerameikos, the Roman Agora, 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, also includes the following unique archaeological sites:

    Ramnous Nudist Beach

    Nudist Beach with trees and bushes in a sunny day in Ramnous Archaeological Site in Athens.
    Nudist Beach © Marios Polyzoes

    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

    Remains of the bridge in the sea in a sunny day in Ramnous Archaeological Site in Athens.
    Remains of the Bridge

    Limnionas is a nearby area to Ramnous which used to have iron mines back in 1880 but stopped working around 1920.

    A rocky beach and a fish boat in Ramnous Archaeological Site in Athens.

    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 that one can use that leads to the beautiful beach of Limnionas.

    The two Sesi Beaches

    A beach with umbrellas in a sunny day near Ramnous Archaeological Site in Athens.

    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 crowded but it is a beautiful place with trees and a tavern for a well-deserved lunch and a cooling swim after.

    FAQs 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 an army to protect the whole settlement.

    Ramnous seaside. Right across is Evia Island. In Ramnous Athens Greece.
    Ramnous seaside. Right across is Evia Island

    Ramnous army was also protecting the area, making sure that Athens would 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 on the hills in the area.

    What is the Terrain like in the Ramnous Archaeological Site?

    Ramnous Archaeological with a tree and bushes in a sunny day in Athens Greece.

    Just like the 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.

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    About the author
    Evgenia Mataragka
    Hi! I am an Athens-based Greek obsessed with exploring Greece and bringing you the best travel experience ever!

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