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
The monasteries of Prophitis Elias and
(Contrary to the indications given on most available maps and guides, this is not a ‘45 minute’ walk, but an unrelenting, 75 minute climb.)
Beyond Kala Pigadia, Miaoulis Street rises to the south; it becomes concrete, then gravel, then track, then path and finally steps, as it approaches the *monastery of Prophiis Elias. (There are some signs; but, at any junction, always take the steeper uphill turning.) Although a late construction (1815), the solitude of the site, the magnificent views and above all the serene simplicity and austerity of the architecture of the monastery amply repay the climb. The paved area enclosed by a low quadrangle of monastery buildings is silent and wide; at its centre, the catholicon sits isolated like a ship on a grey sea. Its outlines are clean, clear, austere—typically Hydriot. The pale stone-work, and the brilliant white pointing of the joints lends an icy detachment to the whole complex. The catholicon has pleasing proportions and compact volumes both inside and out. There is a wide range of 18th and 19th century icons in the interior, with one particularly powerful image of the Prophet himself in the south conch. On the terrace outside the monastery, a chapel to the island’s patron saint, St Constantine of Hydra, stands apart at a little distance to the northeast. Not long after it was completed, the monastery was used as a place of reclusion, and during the civil strife of the mid 1820s Theodore Kolokotronis was imprisoned here.
The *views are superb, encompassing the coasts of the Peloponnese and Attica, and the islands of Aegina, Kea, Kythnos, and (to the west) Dokos and Spetses. A short distance below the monastery to the northwest, a stone path leads down to the sister establishment of the convent of Aghia Evpraxia, which was built fifty years after Prophitis Elias. Intimate, compact and burgeoning with vegetation, the convent has a more feminine identity which is a pleasing contrast to the austerity of Prophitis Elias. Aghia Evpraxia, known as Saint Euphrasia in the west, was a 4th century saint from a noble family related to the Emperor Theodosius. She retired to the Egyptian Desert with her mother and pursued a life of asceticism and ministration to the needy. She died in 413 at the age of 30: her feast is celebrated at the convent on 25 July.
The highest summit of the island, at Mount Eros, 588m, rises directly to the south, and can be reached by a further 35 minutes’ climb.
Hydra Island is part of the Argosaronic Island group
The monasteries of Profitis Elias and Evpraxia.