Marathon Tomb and Museum is a day trip to its archeological site and museum is something you must do when you will visit Athens. This area of Attica is one of the most beautiful places as you will discover when you get there Marathonas. The road passes by gardens, vineyards, olive groves and wild vegetation as well as by the artificial Marathonas Lake with the impressive marble dam. In the surrounding area you can find many beautiful beaches for swimming and sunbathing. The most famous one is Schinias (it is located in an area of unique beauty which has been announced as National Park) where the pine tree forest almost reaches the sandy beach.
The surrounding area of Attica, a land endowed by nature, has been one of the major spiritual centers of Greece since the ancient times. The important historical and archaeological sites, Byzantine monuments, the massif, fertile valleys and clean coasts in combination with its proximity to Athens offer a very attractive outlet for daily trips to whoever wants, even for a while to escape from the tension and the city pace.
Anciently, Marathon occupied a small plain in the northeast of ancient Attica, which contained four places, Marathon, Probalinthus, Tricorythus, and Oenoe, which originally formed the Tetrapolis, one of the 12 districts into which Attica was divided before the time of Theseus. Here Xuthus, who married the daughter of Erechtheus, is said to have reigned; and here the Heracleidae took refuge when driven out of Peloponnesus, and defeated Eurystheus. The Marathonii claimed to be the first people in Greece who paid divine honours to Heracles, who possessed a sanctuary in the plain. Marathon is also celebrated in the legends of Theseus, who conquered the ferocious bull, which used to devastate the plain. Marathon is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey in a way that implies that it was then a place of importance. In mythology, its name was derived from an eponymous hero Marathon, who is described by Pausanias as a son of Epopeus, king of Sicyon, who fled into Attica in consequence of the cruelty of his father Plutarch calls him an Arcadian, who accompanied the Dioscuri in their expedition into Attica, and voluntarily devoted himself to death before the battle.
After Theseus united the 12 independent districts of Attica into one state, the name of Tetrapolis gradually fell into disuse; and the four places of which it consisted became Attic demi, Marathon, Tricorythus, and Oenoë belonging to the tribe Aeantis, and Probalinthus to the tribe Pandionis; but Marathon was so superior to the other three, that its name was applied to the whole district down to the latest times. Hence Lucian speaks of “the parts of Marathon about Oenoë”.
Few places have obtained such celebrity in the history of the world as Marathon Tomb and Museum, on account of the victory which the Athenians here gained over the Persians in 490 BCE (Battle of Marathon). After Miltiades (the general of the Greek forces) defeated Darius’ Persian forces, the Persians decided to sail from Marathon to Athens in order to sack the unprotected city. Miltiades ordered all his hoplite forces to march “double time” back to Athens, so that by the time Darius’ troops arrived they saw the same Greek force waiting for them.
Marathon Monument (Tomb)
The tomb is next to the ancient battle field (1km away from Marathonas) and is dedicated to the 192 Athenian soldiers that died in the battle. On the other side of the road, 5km away, you can see the tomb of the soldiers from Plataies.
Archaeological Museum of Marathon
Although the museum is small, it houses findings not only from the neighboring cities but from other periods and areas as well. The museum includes remarkable findings from the Neolithic Era such as the ones found in Panos Cave, Inoi, a collection of columns dating back to the 2nd century A.D., findings from the first Hellenic cemetery in “Tsepi”, the Egyptian Isidos sanctuary (2nd century A.D.) and the Roman bath (2nd – 4th century A.D.) in “Breksida”.
The Battle of Marathon
Most of the information about this battle comes from the ancient Greek historian Herodotus. According to the historian, in 490 B.C. Persian fleet landed 100.000 troops in Marathonas. Opposite this massive army were just 11.000 Greek soldiers (10.000 Athenians and 1.000 soldiers from Plataies). Greeks won the battle thanks to the strategic intelligence of Miltiadis . After victory an Athenian soldier called Feidipidis run all the way from Marathonas to Athens city center to spread the good news. Before he died of exhaustion he managed to spell just one word: “Νenikikamen” (We are victorious). The contemporary Marathon is dedicated to that ancient event. It symbolizes the end of the Olympic Games and is the same route as the one that Feidipidis run.