Euboea Island, Greece.
Kymi and the central east of the island
(Kymi = 0.0km for distances in this section)
In common with other towns which were founded or re founded in the 18th century and which knew a modest prosperity during the 19th century, Kymi has a stately air imparted to it by its gardened villas and streets of stone houses. It is famous for its figs and honey, and grew rich on a strong maritime tradition; in 1821 it put to sea a fleet of 55 merchant ships, which earned it a bombardment from the Turks. Much of the town is a loosely connected series of semi-rural neighbourhoods, stretching over the hills and looking out to Skyros over the island’s Aegean coast. The spirit of the place is pleasingly captured in the Kymi Folklore Museum (open daily 10–1, 5–7.30) laid out in a late 19th century neoclassical town house, to the right of the road as you exit the centre for the port.
The collection is comprehensive and well-displayed, with exhibits from every aspect of local life. The embroideries, textiles, lace-work and costumes are of great refinement here. A number of maritime pictures are of interest and, amongst the household and agricultural implements of the last century, are many that would not have been unfamiliar to the Ancients: shepherds’ sandals and a plough—seemingly straight from Hesiod; wine-presses;enious fisherman’s warning buoys with bells; soap and wax-making apparatus; and a silk-worm incubator.
To the north of Kymi a road descends through a valley of plane-trees to the springs (1.5km) of the town’s homonymous mineral water, which is now bottled and distributed all over Greece: the water is exceptionally soft and similar in flavour to that of Sariza on Andros.
The road which leaves the town to the east and then heads north, terminates at the immaculately kept convent of the Transfiguration (Metamorphosis tou Sotiros) (4km) founded in the 17th century on what has been tendentiously claimed to be the site of Ancient Kyme. The setting is panoramic (towards Skyros) and protected; it is well-endowed with water (generous springs at Gournia, 500m south), and possesses a natural acropolis above, now occupied by the remains of the Venetian castle of Aghios Giorgios.
Below Kymi to the east (3.5km) is the port which serves the ferry crossing to Skyros: the island is an administrative province of the nome of Euboea. From Platana on the coast to the south of the port, a road leads uphill to the west for 3km as far as the archaeological site at Ano Potamia (9km) on the summit of a steep, conical hill. (Access is easiest by the west slope; the east slope, which pre serves substantial stretches of wall, is densely covered with oak and undergrowth.) The ruins extend over a large area: at the crown of the hill is the well-preserved base of a fortress of Hellenistic times, including the remains of adjacent buildings—possibly barracks—and dwellings, one one of which possesses a baking oven. The area is scattered with potsherds, broken tiles, and fragments of white marble. The earliest habitation on the site goes back to Neolithic times (4th millennium bc), at which time the settlement was located in the saddle between this and the hill to the south. The small museum (no fixed opening times: ask locally for the ‘phylax’) in a converted hall beside the church in the nearby village of Potamia, contains the artefacts from the various periods which have been found at the site.
The debate as to whether the remains on this hill are those of the ancient town of Oechalia, mentioned by Pausanias (Descrip. IV.2.3), cannot be resolved on the basis of existing evidence. The debate also raises the question of the location of the city of Ancient Kyme an important centre in antiquity, not least because it is said by Strabo to have been the co-founder (together with Chalcis) of its homonymous colony, Cumae, in the Bay of Naples in Italy. Some scholars thought that the true founder of the colony was a city of the same name in Aetolia: others have even doubted the very existence of a Euboean Kyme. Visible remains and archaeological finds, however, from the hill of Viglatouri at Oxylithos suggest that the site of the city which seeded Cumae in the 8th century bc may have been on its slopes. They bear witness to a continuous habitation from the Middle Helladic period (early 2nd millennium bc), through Mycenaean times and well into the Late Geometric era.
Euboea Island, Greece