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

Karystos

The grand sweep of the setting of Karystos is unexpected: the curve of its sheltered gulf, the majestic, concave rise of Mount Ochi behind and the openness of the amphitheatre formed by the mountain, have something of the magnificence of the south coast of Crete near Sfakia, or even of the landscapes of eastern Anatolia. The site of Ancient Karystos lies a little to the north of the modern town, which was only created in the wake of the Greek In dependence revolution; its acropolis is still prominently marked by the pinnacle of Castel Rosso, the rambling for tress, visible from all around, from which the Venetians held the south of the island.
   Karystos is first mentioned in Book II of the Iliad: it took part in the Trojan War under the command of its king, Nauplios. In Classical times it became the principal commercial and cultural centre of Southern Euboea, issuing its own coinage in the 6th century bc. Glaukos, a boxer who was victor in the Olympic Games in 520 bc was from Karystos. Remembering is destruction in 490 bc at the hands of the Persians, the city allied with Xerxes in the second Persian invasion, and was later treated punitively for its ‘Medising’ by Themistocles as a result. It was part of the First and Second Athenian Confederacies, and after 338 bc came under Macedonian control. Apollodorus, a Comic dramatist, and Antigonus, a bronze sculptor and writer, were 3rd century bc natives of Karystos. The Romans took the city in 198 bc; their later exploitation of the marble quarries here made the city into an important and prosperous provincial centre—though Dio Chrysostom paints a (perhaps overly-rhetorical) picture of its economic decline already as early as the turn of the 2nd century ad.

The modern town is spacious and pleasant, but with an indefinable air of listlessness. Perhaps for this reason it is a peaceful place to choose as a base for exploring the south of the island. After the liberation of the city from the Turks in 1833, the centre was laid out on a grid pattern by the Bavarian architect, Bierbach, at the request of King Otho who desired that the city be named ‘Othonoupolis’ in his honour. The focus was to be the square where the church of Aghios Nikolaos (1912) now stands. The plan languished: the neoclassical town hall on the north side was only completed at the beginning of the 20th century by private subscription.
   One block north of the harbour (intersection of Kotsika and Sahtouri Streets) are the remains of a 2nd century AD Roman funerary monument of an obviously wealthy official in charge of the marble quarries. It had the appear ance of a small Ionic, peripteral temple, with 6 x 7 columns, and an entrance on the east side: its base and the cellathreshold are visible. Some of the marble from the structure and one of its decorative elements—a carved ‘tondo’ depicting the bust of a man with a bridled horse by his shoulder, which surmounted the doorway—is now incorporated, along with other antique marbles, in the east side of the 13th century tower on the harbour esplanade (east of Aiolou Street), known as the ‘Bourtzi’. The tower is a fortress, of irregular hexagonal form, with two cannon embrasures on the seaward wall, and well preserved machicolations high up on the south wall.
   Opposite is the city’s small Archaeological Museum (open daily 8.30–3, except Mon), set back behind a small garden area scattered with various ancient columns—as well as a venerable, antique steam-roller made by Mar shall & Sons of Gainsborough, and John Allen & Sons of Cowley, England. The collection is small, with clear didactic material, and several interesting inscriptions

Room 1 displays the finds from the Drakospito on the summit of Mount Ochi— mostly pottery from the 4th and 3rd centuries bc, but also an early Archaic, bronze ear ring and other pieces showing earlier use of the site; finds from Neolithic through to Byzantine times from Plakari, to the west of Karystos; interesting evidence from a metallurgy workshop at Archampolis (east coast); (nos 10 & 11) Megarian bowls of the 3rd century bc with beautiful relief designs.
Room 2: a wide variety of calligraphy, from the 4th century bc to Byzantine times, is rep resented by the inscriptions displayed: one is a record of Karystian public debt to the citizens of Histiaia and Thebes, some words from which have been erased; another records a decreed request for a judicial arbitrator from Kimolos. There are fine Ionic capitals from Geraistos and Karystos (Palaiochora), a good selection of carved stelai, and a statue base with depictions of athletes and hunting scenes.

West of Karystos, at a distance of 2.5km is the coastal hill site of Plakari—important archaeologically, but with little to see for the general visitor. This was the site of the earliest settlement in the area (Late Neolithic), although there is ample evidence of later habitation too. The main centre for the area, however, moved to Karystos (the area known as Palaiochora, 2km to the north of the modern town)—probably in the aftermath of the Persian destruction of 490 bc, although the date of the transfer is still debated. Many of the finds from this site are exhibited in the Museum in Karystos.


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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