A very challenging archaeological wonder lies in the area of Southern Evia: it’s the 25 famous huge constructions called Drakóspita (=Dragonhouses). Always located on steep and dominating location, they are built with huge slabs of limestone which form a pyramid-shaped roof: opposite walls converge towards each other as the slabs are put on top one another with each of them protruding as regards its inferior one. Other architectural features include monolithic jambs and lintels, as well as stone shelves protruding from the wall.
Many theories have been proposed in order to explain when, how and for which use the dragonhouses were built. Some have claimed that they were ancient sanctuaries of either Zeus or Hera or Heracles. Others believe that they might have been guard posts or defensive structures, or even shelters for lumberjacks. Whichever the truth is, their imposing size and construction technique is an intriguing enigma!
The Drakospito of Mt Ochi
The most impressive of all the Drakospita of Evia is the one located on Mt Ochi, at an altitude of 1389 metres, above the town of Karystos. The amazing thing is that no connective material had been used for the huge slabs were so beautifully carved and harmoniously adjoined. The houses are 5X10 large with walls 1,5m thick. What strikes everybody as really awesome is that the horizontal slab of the Π-shaped door is 4m long, 2m wide, 0,30m thick, and weighs 10 tons! How did they manage to hoist such a heavy object 2m above the ground? And why would they have made all that effort to build such a construction at the altitude of 1400m? What secrets are there in the misty gorges of time?
In 1959, excavations led by professor Moutsopoulos at the Drakospito of Ochi brought to light pottery and petsherds (on one of which there was some unknown writing) now kept at the archaeological museum of Karystos.
Hiking in the footsteps of the dragon
Hiking up Mt Ochi is a lifetime experience. The area is a Natura 2000 one, for its natural beauty, its very rare –isolated for thousands of years – flora, and its wild fauna. Walk up this very old ecosystem starting from the location of Myloi Karystou to the shelter at 1100m. Breathe in thyme and wild tea, and marvel at the century-old chestnut trees at the location Kastanologgos. It is at the shelter that you will find the well-signed path that will take you past steep slopes onto the peak of the mountain. A stop at the chapel of Profitis Ilias, perched on the cliffs, will offer you a breathtaking view around. Of course, a visit to the Drakospito is a must!