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Routes: Eastern Corinthia towards Epidaurus

Crowned by the deep blue waters of the Saronic Sea, eastern Corinthia is an ideal starting place for magical journeys along its pine-planted coast with small peninsulas and sheltered idyllic coves that form its border.

A place of mention is the port of Cechrees, one of the most well known ports of the ancient world, where goods were brought from and sent to the eastern Mediterranean, its two breakwaters were decorated by temples of Aphrodite and Isida.

Here, Paul the Apostle boarded a ship in the spring of the year 53 AD to travel to Ephesos and here one of the first Christian communities of Greece developed, with the virtuous lady, Phoebe as deaconess, who was mentioned by the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans.

On the northern edge of its sandy cove, visitors can enjoy superb summer moments, reclined on pebbles mixed with small, broken pieces of ancient pottery! On what is today a pebbly beach there was once a stone paved quay with trader’s warehouses, temples and a small settlement, which housed the port’s workers.

Just a few kilometres to the south, we find the Baths of Helen, a small settlement that owes its name to the fresh water springs that exist next to the sea, where it is believed that the beautiful Spartan Queen bathed.

Continuing the journey, we come to Almiri, a small seaside village, with a superb pebble beach. The village’s taverns offer the tastiest of fresh fish. There are two small camping sites for those who prefer outdoor holidays. For those that are interested in a quiet journey along the seaside, from the beach of Almiri the road continues through beautiful pine- woods to Katakali, a graphic village with traditional stone-built houses.

In the area of Almiri and Katakali there are hotels and rooms to let, taverns and restaurants, beside the waves of the Saronic Sea, making the general area a centre for tourism.

Continuing on, the road winds between pine covered slopes and encounters the bays of Siderona and Fragolimano and leaving behind the aura of the sea passes through the hinterland of Eastern Corinthia, and approaches the small town of Sophico. Sophico, the seat of the municipality Solygeia, is built in the area of Ancient Solygeia, where one of the most intense battles of the Peloponnesian war occurred in 425BC.

The area boasts many historic churches and monasteries, with rare and wonderful architecture and icons. In the valley of Larisios the 12th century church of Taxiarches, attracts the interest of visitors with its extremely beautiful 16th century mural paintings of strictly Cretan style. The church of Aghios Georgios (1700) also adorns Sophico; the recently restored church of Evangelistria in the quarter known as Cockinia and the church of Aghia Triada at a place called Larisi.

The 12th century nunnery of The Virgin Mary dominates the hilltop, built with materials from the ancient Greek temple of Aphrodite, remains of which still lie within its grounds. Close by is the church of Aghia Paraskevi, built in 1617, decorated with mural paintings of particular cultural value.

Two more churches in this ecclesiastic landscape are dedicated to the saints Nicholas and Dimitrios, with excellent murals depicting the everyday life of the people of Sophico in the 18th century. On the beaches of Sophico the scenery treats our eyes to the sight of all shades of greens, browns and greys, of pines, shrubs, rocks and the blues of the sea and sky! The beautiful, blue bays of Amonio and Caloyerolimano capture the attention. It is an ideal spot for lovers of camping, where one can comfortably pitch a tent under the shade of the pine trees, which grow all the way to the sand. The beaches of Sophico can be reached by the main, Isthmus-Corinth, arterial road.

In the natural valley of the beautiful forest of Sophico, at the foot of the slopes of mount Tzalika, the children’s camp, “Ranch Skouras” operates, with its particular architecture, in keeping with the natural surroundings.

Towards the east, leaving the main road, our journey takes us through hills covered with thick pine forests, the journey ending at the small seaside village of Corphos, in a small gulf protected from all weather, with a small sandy beach and deep blue waters. Its excellent climate and many small hotels with a wonderful view, makes it perfect for pleasant winter breaks.

A few kilometres north of Corphos, we encounter a very old small church of The Virgin Mary of Steiri, once the church of a monastery, possibly of the 11th century, with outstandingly beautiful icons of 1668, by the iconographer Theodoulos Kakkavas. There still exist there the ruins of the cells of the monastery, where the blessed Lucas Steiriotis was once a hermit. This peaceful spot is ideal for lovers of camping.

To the north of Corphos, the main road leads to the well known, bay of Selonta, with its impressionable, vertical rocks and sandy beach.

Near to Sophico we find Angelocastro, an small village of herdsmen, with fine stone houses and a fair amount of residents. The many churches in the area show the inhabitant’s deep respect for Christianity. The most characteristic of all the churches is that of Aghios Nicolaos, with its marvelous Byzantine murals, which was for centuries the center of religious life in the region and is a monument today. At the highest point of the village is a fortress, which was a refuge for the people of Piada and their belongings. Continuing in the same direction through thick pine plantations, for a journey of 30 km, one arrives at ancient Epidaurus.

#mythicalpeloponnese

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