Hydra Island, the Argosaronic.
Ýdra or Hýdra:
resident population 2,629
max. altitude 588m.
Port Authority: 22980 52279.
Travel and information: Ydraïoníki Travel, T. 22980 54007, www. hydra.gr
Hydra Travel Guide
Other walks on the Island
Hydra has no motorised vehicles, so exploration of its considerable length (20km from east to west) has to be under taken on foot or by mule. The mountainous interior is grand and panoramic, but the walks are not bucolic: they are hard and mostly shadeless, especially in the east. There are no springs, so it is important to take drinking-water.
west: Kamini, Vlychos and Episkopi
(Distances in time by foot from the main harbour)
A stone-paved road leads from the port round the west ern battery to Kameni (15 mins.), the attractive fishing harbour for Hydra. It is here, on Good Friday every year, that the epitaphios is borne in procession from the beach into the sea. The route continues for Vlychos (25 mins.), which sits at the mouth of a gorge, overlooked by rocky rises to east and west. The plateau of the eastern hill (101m) was occupied by an important Late Mycenaean citadel (13th–12th century bc), which overlooked the coast and the sea passage between Hydra and the mainland.
As you approach from the east, stretches of fortification wall in courses of rough masonry can be seen high up on the northeast face of the hill. The area at the summit shows evidence of settlement, with terraces below, and a gateway on the northwest side. Fragments of clay figurines (see Hydra Museum above) and lead-weights for fishing nets have been found on the site. Archaeological evidence shows a continuation of use on the site in historic times, which may corroborate an allusion made in Herodotus (Hist. III, 58–59), where he says that a detachment of Samians, having extorted a large sum of money from the people of Siphnos under threat, proceeded to buy the island of Hydrea from the city of Hermione. This hill-top was probably their garrison-post which would have been taken when, according to Herodotus, the Samians were trounced by the surprise attack of a force from the island of Aegina in c. 526 bc. Surface finds on the hill, of coins and arrow-heads, would appear to corroborate this.
At Vlychos the path crosses an attractive arched bridge built in dry stone according to the same design as the bridges in the mountains of Epirus which were built around the same time, at the end of the 18th century. At Palamidas (50 mins.) is a small boatyard which still functions today. Overlooking it from the east is the long boat-house building in typical 19th century, Hydriot architecture, with arched boat-docks at ground level. The path—still a wide gravel road—rises into the interior from Palamidas, climbing through woods of Aleppo pine to a ridge with views down to the cove of Molos, and the former summer mansion of the Voulgaris family behind its shore. Shortly after the watershed, as the road descends to the south side of the island, you come to the half-inhabited, half-abandoned settlement of Episkopi (100 mins.). Surface finds in this area suggest that it was settled both in prehistoric times and later in the Roman and Early Christian period. The church of the Koimisis tis Theotokou has a forecourt with columns and spolia from an earlier Byzantine structure: the name ‘Episkopi’ could possibly be interpreted as suggesting an episcopal presence in Byzantine times. The village was favoured by Hydriots in the last two centuries as a retreat for its cooler climate in the summer and for hunting in the autumn. Today it is a settlement of scattered houses and chapels, olive groves and walled enclosures. A path continues for a further thirty minutes to the east of Episkopi descending to Nisiza Bay on the south coast.
Behind the Bay of Aghios Nikolaos near Bisti at the south western extremity of the island (reached by boat), another interesting Mycenaean installation has been identified, dating from the 13th century bc. On the slope of the hill, at a point where springs must previously have existed, are the remains of terraces and walls of considerable height which appear to have been designed to store water, perhaps with the purpose of creating a supply station for the crews of passing ships, plying the trade-routes between the Argolid and the Islands.
Hydra Island is part of the Argosaronic Island group
Other walks on the Island.