At a short distance from Loutraki, which is renowned for its healing and natural mineral waters as well as for its casino (first one in Greece), you will encounter the cape of Heraion of Perachora also known as Melagkavi. The cape stands alongside of the largest lighthouse of the Corinthian Bay. Important relics of the early Corinthian Civilization have been discovered in the area. The sanctuary of goddess Hera, located at the depth of the harbour, near the rocks on which the current lighthouse is built, was of great importance in its time.
The archaeological site of Heraion
Visit the archaeological site of Heraion and see up close; the Temple of Hera located in the harbour beneath the Melagkavi lighthouse, relics dating back to antiquity such as an L-shaped stoa (freestanding colonnade or covered walkway), a large cistern, dining halls as well as a second smaller temple. The relics found in the area demonstrate its importance during the pre Roman Age.
The very first excavations of the site were conducted from 1930 to 1933 by Humphry Payne, Director of the British School in Athens. The research went on from 1938-1939 by Thomas J. Dunbabin and from 1964-1965 by Birmingham Richard Tomlinson, Director of the British School in Athens.
The Heraion of Perachora is divided in two parts and was believed, up to recently, that it concerned two separate sanctuaries, one dedicated to Hera Akraia and another one to Hera Limenia. Recent excavations have revealed that there were only one sanctuary: the Hera Akraia-Limenia.
Built next to the picturesque bay and harbour you’ll encounter the Temple of Hera (first level of the site), making it ideal for a simultaneous refreshing dive in the sea found next to the site. The temple replaced an earlier small apsidal temple dating back to the Geometric period (late 9th century BC - early 8th century BC). The altar was a long rectangular structure, which was originally decorated with triglyphs and metopes on all four sides, while the remains of at least seven steps were part of a staircase. A two-storey stoa built in an L-shape, dating from the 4th century B.C., extends to the east of the Altar. The West Courtyard, an irregular pentagon which was identified originally with the agora, can be seen to the southwest of the temple. The neighbouring dock dating back to the 19th century served the needs of the lighthouse.
A double arched reservoir is located to the east (on the second level), while to the south of the reservoir is a building for dining (or hestiatorion). A stone drain and another smaller sedimentation tank were revealed to the northeast of the reservoir. In between levels, you can see the small church of St. John which originally stood on the geometric temple and moved later on during the excavations. You’ll encounter the Building of Hestia at the easternmost end, on the third level of the site (7th century to 6th century B.C.), while at a small distance below lie a series of retaining walls (5th - 4th century B.C.), the remains of a staircase, and a large artificial cavity, conventionally called the Sacred Reservoir.
An excursion at just a breath away from the city
Perachora Village (holds on to its ancient name) may serve as an ideal starting point for daily trips to the wonderful beaches of Mikri and Megali Mylokopi (named after the large quantity of grinding stones found here). It is renowned for scuba diving as it combines shallow, deep, steep and adventurous waters. The port of Mylokopi is a safe haven and within a stone’s throw away don’t miss the chance to take a dive and snap some fantastic underwater pictures of the colourful seabed. Equally impressive are the beaches of Sterna, Skalosia and Stravon.
The view from Heraion of the southern coast of the Corinthian Gulf, the mountains that stand imposingly in the landscape are simply breathtaking while the sunset is mesmerising. The fish restaurants on Heraion Lake will treat you to a feast; fresh fish and local seafood delicacies will fulfill your tastebuds needs.
the Akra Melagkavi Lighthouse, which reveals the area’s mystic charm. The lighthouse was first lit in 1897 and since has been standing at the north entrance of the Corinthian Bay keeping an eye on the sailors.
Loutraki renowned for its thermal springs famous since Antiquity, when the city was called Thermai, in honor of Thermia Artemis. The region is also visited for its Casino and appreciated for its natural mineral waters.
cross the Isthmus Canal (Corinth Canal) and see the Ancient Diolkos in Poseidonia.
the Isthmia archaeological site, where the Isthmian Games were held during Antiquity and the Archaeological Museum of Isthmia. As you have reached the Saronic Gulf there are numerous swimming options. The beaches here are wonderful so try one of the following: Kryfi, Aphroditi, Kechries or Loutra Agias Elenis.