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Euboea - Lake Dystos to Karystos, and around Mount Ochi - East of Karystos

East of Karystos

The southeastern seaboard of Euboea, was one of the most vital maritime traffic corridors in the ancient Aegean, on the route between the Black Sea and the commercial centres of mainland Greece—Athens and Corinth. It was also well-known for being one of the windiest and most tempestuous channels in the Aegean, funnelling the wind just as effectively as it funnelled the commercial traffic. Thiscoastline is what Herodotus was referring to as the ‘the hollows’ (τα κοίλα) in Book VIII. 13 of his Histories, when recounting how an entire Persian squadron came to grief on the rocks here in a storm in 480 bc. The ancient city of Geraistos, at the southern end of this coast, profited richly from the tariffs it levied on the wealth of passing commercial traffic. Its site, which corresponds to the protected bay of Kastri­ (18km), is hard to reach today (take the unmade track descending from the asphalted road just after it turns sharply north, 11km from Karystos). By the bay—in a field to the right, c. 400m before the track ends at the church of the Zoodochos Pigi—are the vestiges of a classical temple. Large architectural blocks, one with a clearly conserved triglyph, mark the site of what may have been a temple of Poseidon: other material from the site has been taken to the museum in Karystos. It is now a wild and inaccessible place; but to the ancient seaman it was a welcome and busy haven in bad weather.
   The long coastal valleys in this area which push deep inland, one after another, have the remote feel of a fron tier land: the villages are exiguous, but the land is in parts fertile and watered by streams that flow down from the heights of Mount Ochi, dense with oleander and plane trees. One of the villages, Platanistos, takes its name from these trees. One kilometre after leaving the settlement of Platanistos, a track leads down steeply into the valley to the right (signed to ‘Anemopilies’ and ‘Aghios Konstantinos’). After 1.2km you reach the site of Elleniko, which dates probably from the mid 5th century bc. In the mid dle of the steep fields the corner of some massive stone terracing rises from the vegetation, constructed in horizontal courses of masonry of varying width. The church of Aghios Konstantinos, further to the west, incorporates ancient blocks and elements in its walls. An inscription from here mentioning Artemis Bolosia is all that we have to help identify the site.
   Twenty kilometres beyond Platanistos the unsurfaced road turns west and begins to circumvent the Archampolis Gorge. This wild and majestic landscape appears to have been inhabited in Antiquity and, although no city or town as such has been identified, the scattered remains which have been found may well have belonged to a single, organised, but scattered, settlement. Habitation seems to stretch from the Archaic period through to the 1st century bc, when the area was abandoned, perhaps following an attack by Mithridates in 80 bc. An acropolis (on the conical eminence overlooking the outlet to the sea), a large drakospito-like structure with evidence—unusually—both of residential and possible cultic use, a farm stead, and an iron-ore smelting furnace and workshop have all been located within a circumscribed area, near the riverbed at the eastern end of the valley. (The sites are best reached by the footpath which leads from the road just to the north of the settlement of Evangelismos—which lies to the south of the gorge—and descends north into the valley. A similar but longer foot-path descends south from the houses at Thymi, which lies to the north of the gorge.)
   The road, now mostly un-surfaced, continues north as far as Cape Kafireas—known also by its Venetian name of ‘Cavo Doro’—where Nauplios, father of Palamedes, is said to have lighted torches to mislead the Greeks on their return from Troy, in revenge for the murder of his son on a false charge of treachery. The scattered villages of this area are still inhabited by the descendants of the Albanians who were settled here by the Venetians in the 15th century.
   Time and patience, and strong legs or a strong vehicle are needed to explore further in this area: there are no road-signs and because the roads on the ground often do not correspond to those on the older maps, a detailed and up-to-date map of the area is essential. Those who have the energy to explore, however, will be rewarded— especially on the north side of the mountain—by some grand and beautiful valleys, rich in flora, butterflies and fauna. Mediaeval mule-paths and stone kalderimi can be followed along the scenic Dimosari Gorge, for example. From the same point, mentioned above (see p. 133) for commencing the climb to the summit of Ochi, a path to the north leads down into the gorge. At least eight hours should be allowed for the journey down to the shore and back. There is fresh water running in falls, almost all the way down to the sea.


Euboea Island, Greece


access

Euboea Island, Greece.

Access to the island is either by road via the Euripus bridges (1 hr from Athens, exit "Schimatari" from Athens/ Thessaloniki autoroute) or via short ferry crossings from Rafina (Attica) to Marmaris (c. every 3 hrs), Aghia Marina (Attica) to Nea Styra (c. every 2–3 hrs), Skala Oropou (Attica) to Eretria (every 30 mins), Arkitsa (Phthiotis) to Aedipsos (hourly), Glyfa (Phthiotis) to Agiokampos (hourly).
A hydrofoil service, four times weekly in the summer also links Chalcis with Limni, and Limni with Loutrá Aedipsoú and Aghios Konstantinos.

Euboea Travel Guide

eating

Euboea Island, Greece.

In Aedipsos, the central Mezedopoleion Armenizontas often has good, live rebetiko music.
In Limni, To Kyma (new), in a handsome stone house on the waterfront, is attentive both to service and to the freshness of its delightful variety of classic, Greek dishes. The well-established To Astro, at Katounia, remains good for fresh fish. To Neon, 1km below Stení, delightfully spread out beneath immemorial planes by a stream, specialises in local sausage and charcoal grilled vegetables and meats.
Geroplatanos in Myli, near Karystos, is somewhat similar in setting, with a good choice of dishes, especially at lunchtime on Sundays.
In Karystos itself, Kotsika Street is lined with simple, inexpensive street-eateries; these may look uninspiring, but do not underestimate the quality of meat and the freshness of the wine at the minuscule I Melissa, at no 27

Euboea Travel Guide

further reading

Euboea Island, Greece.

Sarah Wheeler, An Island Apart, 1992; Barbro Noel Baker, An Isle of Greece: The Noels in Euboea (2000), Archaeopress, Oxford; or from www.deniseharveypublisher.gr

Euboea Travel Guide

lodging

Euboea Island, Greece.

North Euboea. Spa hotels in Aedipsos: the luxurious Thermae Sylla Spa (T. 22260 60100, fax 22055, www. thermaesylla.gr) or the Avra Spa Hotel (T. 22260 22226, fax 23260).
Alternatively, the Hotel Aigli (T. 22260 22215, fax 24886), is a comfortable hotel, without spa facilities.
In Limni, choice is limited: the 81959), near the museum is a pleasant option.

Central Euboea. At Steni, the Hotel Dirphys (T. 22280 51217) is tranquil and delight ful, but very basic. Chalcis is not an obvious choice to stay in but if necessary, the Paliria Hotel (T. 22210 28001, fax 81959), near the museum is a pleasant option.
At Kymi the Hotel Corali (T. 22220 22212, fax 22002, www.coralihotel. gr), a little way outside the harbour, is modern and comfortable.

Southern Euboea.
At Karystos the Apollon Suites Hotel (T. 22240 22045, fax 22049 www.apollonsuiteshotel.com) is an Italian-run hotel on the beach, with large rooms to the eastern end of the town.  Hotel Plaza (T. 22270 31235, fax 31336), on the water front is quiet and simple, and currently represents the best option. Closer in to the centre is the Hotel Karystion (T. 22240 22391, fax 22727, www.karystion.gr) less spacious, but a little more modern and stylish, and with pleasant service.

Historic Villa Rentals For those seeking a luxurious base for a longer period (preferably in a small group so as to share the cost) these two historic houses are excel lent and elegant solutions: Villa Averoff at Kirinthos, (www.villa-averoff.com); and the Konaki at Prokopi (www. candili.gr).

Euboea Travel Guide

museums

Euboea Island, Greece.

Folklore Museum
Archaeological Museum

Euboea Travel Guide

other attractions

Euboea Island, Greece.

Drakospita
Thermal springs

Euboea Travel Guide

practical info

Euboea Island, Greece.

340 01-346 00 Evia, Evvia or Evvoia: area 3,661 sq.km; perimeter 729km; resident population 191,009; max. altitude 1743 m. Port Authorities: Agiokampos T. 22260 71228; Aedipsos T. 22260 22464; Chalcis T. 22210 22236; Eretria T. 22290 62201; Kymi T. 22220 22606; Nea Styra T. 22240 41266; Marmari T. 22240 31222. Information: T. 22210 82677, www.naevias.gr

Euboea Travel Guide

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