There is more to Greece than just mythology. In fact, in contrast to the myths the country is known for, one of its 1,400 islands, Hydra, is steeped in Christian tradition, as well as a rich history and culture that is well worth experiencing.
Location and How to Get There
One of Greece’s Saronic Islands, the Island of Hydra is located between the Saronic and Argolic Gulfs in the Aegean Sea. There are a number of ways to get to Hydra, among these is through hydrofoils that are known locally as the Flying Dolphins. Departing from the port of Piraeus at different hours in the day, a Flying Dolphin trip to Hydra lasts for 1 hour and 30 minutes. The island can also be reached by private boat or helicopter. For those traveling from Athens by car, go through the Athens-Korinthos National Road, and then go left to Epidavros. From there, follow the newly opened road, which is only 10 minutes away from Kalloni. From there, it is a 15-minute drive from Galata, which is across Poros Island. Follow the coastal road from there in order to arrive at Metoxi, which is situated opposite to Hydra. Leaving the car in the parking space at Metoxi, one can cross to the island either through the boats Freedom I and Freedom 2, or by calling for a sea taxi.
What to See There
There are numerous fascinating historical sites in the island of Hydra, in particular its many churches and monasteries. Among them are the twin monasteries of St. Eupraxia and Prophet Elias, noted as where some figures of the Greek Revolution had been imprisoned in 1825. Other monasteries include the Monastery of St. Matrona, the Monastery of St. Nikolaos, and the Monastery of the Virgin Mary of Zoubra. For further exposure to the island’s culture, there’s the Manor of Lazaros Kountoyriotis, which houses the Museum of Byzantic Art and History. Hydra is also known for its beautiful beaches, boasting of gray sandy and rocky shores, and blue crystal clear waters. Even the island’s many beaches reflect its religious tradition, as is the case with St. George (located near the Church of St. George), the pebble beach St. Nikolaos, and Vliho, which is situated near the shrine of St. Haralampos.
The Island of Hydra was so-named, not necessarily from the many-headed serpent of Greek mythology, but because of the island’s plentiful waters. In ancient times, the island had been known as Hydrea. Used by the Greek navy as a service station, the island would flourish in the field of sea commerce and export by the 18th century. Hydra is particularly noted for its role in Greece’s liberation in 1821. From the 1950’s, the island had become a favorite gathering place for artists and filmmakers, earning it the tag Island of Artists. Hydra has since become a popular cultural center and tourist destination.
Ticket prices for a Freedom I or II ride to the island of Hydra costs 5 to 6 Euros per person.
For more information on the island of Hydra, log on to its official website, http://www.hydra.com.gr/?lang=en.