On the island of Evia, at southwest of Chalkida and opposite of Oropos coasts in Attica, is situated the beautiful coastal town of Eretria. Its name comes from the verb “eretto”, which means rowing, in the Ancient Greek language. Eretria was a great naval and commercial power of Greece, by the 8th century b.c. It already had many colonies on the Aegean coast, in southern Italy and in Crimea.
Eretria is a popular destination for all seasons. It is close to Athens and it is an ideal destination for nature-lovers, cultural and alternative tourism and wine tourism. It also combines a variety of activities, such as water sports (sailing, water skiing, kite surf), horseback riding, mountain climbing and swimming in the beautiful sea. The area is also suitable for cycling.
The “Pezonisi” of Eretria, also known as the “Island of Dreams”, is a very small island that one can go from Eretria on foot. It is near to the port and its beaches are suitable for swimming.
In Eretria, tourists can visit olive groves and olive mills and see up close the olive harvest and the oil production process.
The visitors can also follow the “paths of vineyards”, where they can be guided to the vineyards and wineries of the area, learning useful information about the cultivation of vines and the varieties of wines.
Mount Olympus of Evia is very close to Eretria. It has a height of 1,172 meters and its vegetation consists mainly of firs and pines. Visitors can walk through the forest and admire the nature and the wonderful view.
Every summer, around the middle of July, a multi-day celebration named “Kanaria” takes place in Eretria, inspired by the fighter of the Greek revolution of 1821 Konstantinos Kanaris. The celebration includes dances, theatrical performances, musical events, painting exhibitions. Ιt is considered as the top cultural event of the summer in Eretria.
At the same time, the students of Eretria Junior High School, having actively participated in the implementation of cultural programs since 2014, such as the program of the NGO “DIAZOMA” “Students Guide Students to the Ancient Theaters”, conduct guided tours of the Ancient theater, for students of other schools who visiting the area.
It is a wonderful experience to visit the Archaeological Museum of Eretria. The museum of Eretria has been operating since 1991 and presents the history of the city from prehistoric times to Roman times. One of the most famous exhibits of the museum is the small clay Centaur, found in the cemetery of Lefkanti and is the oldest representation of this mythical creature.
Inspired by the program “Smart travelling around Europe: A Youth Guide for Sustainable Tourism”, the students of Eretria Junior High School mapped out two routes of cultural interest in the city of Eretria and made up two stories, introducing two fictional protagonists “Apostolos” and “Paramoni”, in order to highlight the cultural feature of each route.
“The route of the Apostolos” refers to the refugee settlement of the city of Eretria, where Greeks who lived in Prigiponnissa (islands opposite Constantinople) were exiled from their homeland in 1922 and settled in Eretria, making a new beginning. The architecture of the houses, the traditional music, the traditional dances and the traditional cuisine of minor Asia travel visitors to other eras. Through the narration of the Greek refugee Apostolos, visitors learn how to turn the difficulties of life into opportunities for creation and rebirth. The journey ends at “Panagia Paravouniotissa”, an orthodox church where the Byzantine icon of “Panagia Paravouniotissa” was brought there by the Greek refugees from Prigiponissa in 1922.
The Cultural Route of “Paramoni” integrates the archeological findings that are scattered around the city (Ancient port of Eretria, Roman baths, house with mosaics, ancient Theater). Thus, visitors have the chance to come in contact with Ancient Eretria, the daily habits of the inhabitants and the trade relations that the Eretrians had in ancient times, with the other people around the Mediterranean sea, such as the Egyptians.
During the summer period on the coastal road of Eretria, the traffic of cars is prohibited and only the pedestrians, bicycles and electric scooter is allowed. All over the year, people can visit local farms and participate in workshops that include activities in nature, such as cultivation and harvesting of fruits, vegetables and olives.
At the same time, the participation of the inhabitants in celebrations and the revival of customs and historical events in Eretria, where the past and the present exist in harmony, proves that the historical monuments that anyone can see everywhere in the town, are not just tourist attractions but a living part of resident’s everyday life.
The visitors of Eretria should not miss to visit a sea area of special environmental interest: The valuable «Meadows of Posidonia» in the sea area of Eretria. The sea area of Eretria is full of Posidonia oceanic meadows, the so-called “sea forests”.
Posidonia is a plant of the Mediterranean Sea and is protected by law. “Meadows of Posidonia” cover an underwater sea area where many sea animals live, nest, feed and breed, such as fish, seahorses, mollusks, sea turtles and others as well as algae. The meadows of Posidonia produce large amounts of Oxygen, as well as the Tropical Forests! And they bind significant amounts of Carbon Dioxide CO2. That is, they are an important defense “weapon” of nature and life on Earth against climate change.
Just as terrestrial plants hold the soil to the ground with their roots, so the forests of Posidonia hold the sand in the sea with their roots! Posidonia with its volume functions as a natural “breakwater” reducing the momentum of the waves! The waves would cause great erosion on the coast, if the Posidonia Forests didn’t exist.
One square meter of Posidonia Forest is equivalent to about twenty square meters of sand on the coast! That is, when someone destroys even one square meter of Posidonia in the sea, he is responsible for twenty square meters of sand, which will be lost by the momentum of the waves!
Today, Posidonia is threatened by human interventions, such as fishing with sliding gear, mooring, fish farming, and technical projects taking place by the sea. The sea worldwide, is overfished. The creation of protected areas will result in the return of lost biodiversity in the sea. It could also turn Eretria into a center of Ecological-Diving Tourism, paving the way for new green professions related to diving observation, and marine photography.
“The path of Apostolos”. A little story.
My name is Apostolos, 4th generation Greek refugee from Ionia. My great grandparents came to Eretria in 1922 when the Asia Minor disaster happened.
My neighborhood is one of the 2 settlements that was given back then to the Galimites, to those who came from the Galimi village of Marmaras.
Back then, it had swamps but nowadays it is one of the most beautiful areas of our city.
I have memories of the colorful gardens including jasmines, the smells of spices and cinnamon that spreads from the open windows of the houses, fishermen mending their fishnets from the one edge of the street till the other one, housewives singing and knitting, grandmas giving their tired from playing grandchildren a slice of wet bread with sugar, my special clothes for the church, Sunday’s rich dinner.
As a teenager, wandering by riding my bike, I sometimes stand at the start of neighborhood (machala) and remember…sometimes I laugh…others I get emotional…
Moving on, I stop at Grigoraki’s house, an old man that came when he was 3 years old from the lost homelands. I greet him, kiss his hand…taking his wish.
Then I get to the lighthouse. I like watching the fishing boats and passenger ships…I leave my mind travelling…
Other times, I go fishing there with my grandpa, I take photos with my friends, I walk with my loving one under the moonlight.
Continuing my walk, I feel proud of my ancestors which from poor fishermen became shipowners…became hoteliers and motel owners like the one that is in my neighborhood…became scientists and traders, businessmen and bakers, like Mrs Chrisoula who with her refugee buns honors the Virgin Mary the Paravouniotisa at the day that is dedicated to her.
Getting back home, I ask myself how I can be worthy of my ancestors…
Their music and songs, foods and sweets, dances and costumes put me into thoughts and ideas.
My secret desire is to be as innovative as them, be loyal to the traditions and create…
My secret desire is to collect any kind of material and create a museum for the Asian’s Minor refugees of Eretria.
The town of Eretria
The Dream Island
Sunset in Eretria
Ancient Theater of Eretria
The Meadows of Posidonia