History of Ermioni

Ermioni (Ancient Hermione) was originally founded by mythical hero Ermionas and the ancient Dryopian tribe, and dedicated to the 'messenger' god, Hermes. During the Mycenaean period, the city was honoured to Hermione, daughter of Helen and Menelaus, King of Sparta.  When Helen and Paris sailed together for Troy, Hermione was cared for by Helen's sister Clytemnestra, wife of Agamemnon, King of Argos and Mycenae.  Hermione later married Neoptolemus (Pyrrhus), son of the Greek hero Achilles. In the Iliad, Homer described Ancient Hermione's involvement in the Trojan War, 1194-1184 BC, commanded by the Argive King Diomedes, also the number of warships that sailed from Hellas to bring back the beautiful Helen of Troy, Queen of Sparta. Over a thousand years later, the Augustan Roman geographer Strabo wrote about Ancient Hermione as 'the town lying on the South-Eastern end of the Argolid, whereby its history goes far back in time', and stated clearly that 'it is not one of the lesser towns'

From the 14th to 8th Century BC, many settlements were established in the Southern Argolida region, as elsewhere in Greece.  By the 6th Century BC some of these villages had grown into real towns and large cities, such as Hermione (Ermioni), Halieis (Porto Heli), Mases (Kilada) and Eileoi (Iliokastro). This laid the foundations for the archaic Hermionis Kingdom, ruled from the walled city of Hermione, located on the ancient Poseideon Bisti peninsula.  Today, this geographical area of the ancient Hermionis Kingdom is called Ermionida, with Ermioni being the largest coastal town.

Ancient Hermione originally developed in two areas, with a fortified citadel and a separate trading district.  The earlier Mycenaean citadel was located on the present Bisti peninsula, originally called Poseideon.  This was an administrative, religious and cultural centre, which included a number of temples, including the temples to the sea-god Poseidon and the goddess Athena, with a small stone theatre and stadium.  Early inhabitants would have lived close to their workshops outside the citadel and fishermen would have thrived along the surrounding coastline.  During the Greek Dark Ages, following the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization, an early trading district developed with a port and harbour situated at the South-Western side of Hermione, within the present Kapari Bay.  The ancient 6th and 5th Century BC town of Hermione developed around this harbour and up the Hill of Pronos, where today stands the mid-18th Century church of Aghia Ermioni, built over the foundations of an ancient temple to the goddess Hera.  During this Classical period, the Poseideon defensive walls were enlarged and new temples replaced the original Mycenaean structures within the citadel, the city continued to expand and develop.  On the present Bisti peninsula, you can see and explore some of the foundations of the ancient Poseideon buildings, others can be found under the sea along the Southern Bisti coastline.

The Poseideon citadel was encircled with stone walls and a fortified inland entrance, for defence of the whole population in times of attack by rival cities or marauding pirates. The military fleet would have been stationed close to the citadel walls, on the Northern side of the Poseideon peninsula, in the present Limani Bay.  Ongoing archaeological excavations have discovered that the stone walls were extended beyond the Poseideon Bisti citadel area during the Byzantine and Frankish periods and eventually included most of the modern town.  The excavations proved that the outer Western perimeter wall of the city extended from the present school and market area at Limani, and arched across to the Mandrakia waterfront, enclosing the present 9th Century Byzantine church of Agioi Taxiarches.

Hermione continued to flourish in the 5th and 4th Centuries BC, and during the Classical period it had became important due to its agriculture, ship-building and fishing.  The town grew during the Hellenistic and Roman periods and had a population of over 7,000 inhabitants (there are just over 3,000 permanent residents today).  Hermione gained a reputation for the wealth of its coastline, which was attributed to the rare species of murex seashells and the purple mollusc, porphyra, whereby the local inhabitants obtained a deep red and purple dye through a special process.  This deep red coloured dye was used for dyeing the military cloaks and tunics of Greek armies, such as the famous crimson red of King Leonidas and his Spartan warriors and the exclusive Tyrian purple dye used for the cloaks (palliums) of nobility and royalty, such as the elite Macedonian Companions and their supreme commander and King, Alexander the Great. Archaeological finds in Hermione have included silver and bronze coins which show Demeter, the goddess of Earth, which date back to 550 BC, giving evidence to the importance and affluence of the old Hermionis Kingdom.  Many other ancient artifacts have been discovered during the excavations of Hermione and the Poseideon Bisti peninsula by archeologist Alex Philadelpheas from 1908.  A bronze Corinthian style hoplite warriors helmet was discovered here, today it is displayed with many other interesting exhibits from Ancient Hermione, in the wonderful Archaeological Museum of the Peloponnese, in Syntagma Square, Nafplio. 

Hermione had always been historically allied with Mycenae, Asine and Sparta, and later belonged to the Peloponnesian League.  The city sent 3 trireme warships to fight the Persians at the sea-battle of Salamis in 480 BC and a year later sent 300 heavily-armed hoplite warriors, and an equal number of support troops, to fight the Persian invaders at the battle of Plataea in 479 BC. Following these two important historic battles, with the total defeat of the Persians, the Hellene city-states experienced a brief Classical golden age of peace, trade and development.  This period ended when Hermione assisted Sparta and her allies in the Peloponnesian War, 431-387 BC, a long civil war against Athens and her allies.  During this conflict, from Epidavros the Athenians laid waste the territories of Troezen, Halieis and Hermione.  However, this bloody civil war finally resulted in the defeat of Athens and the destruction of the once mighty Athenian Empire.  Hermione finally got the chance to recover, rebuild and develop in peace.

The above historical paintings have been created by a local Ermioni artist, Mihalis Papafrangou.  The paintings depict the scenes of the Poseideon Bisti citadel and temples of ancient Hermione.  

Hermione witnessed considerable prosperity during the Hellenistic and Republican Roman periods, particularly after the Romans had taken control of Hermione following their destruction of ancient Corinth in 146 BC.  The stone aqueduct that carried water to a number of rock-hewn cisterns, which were found across the populated town, was built and completed during this time, bringing fresh clean water from the mountains to a central water fountain.  Hermione's historical development continued to be influenced by Imperial Roman rule and the coastal city continued to prosper, despite suffering some destruction from repeated attacks by marauding pirates.  When Pausanias visited Hermione, he described with admiration the lavish temples, sancturies, stadium, festivals, music contests and swimming races that brought so much glory to the ancient Ermionis Kingdom and surrounding area.

Pausanias was a Greek traveller and geographer, who lived in the times of Roman Emperors Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius.  He travelled extensively in Asia Minor, Palestine, Egypt and Italy before coming to Greece.  In his detailed account of ancient Hermione in the 2nd Century AD, Pausanias distinguishes the former archaic city from the city of his day.  'The former city occupied the Eastern Bisti Poseideon peninsula, the later city was on the Western part and the slopes of the Hill of Pronos.  The city had good harbours on the North and South, the necropolis was below Pronos on the North'.  Within the 'former city' Pausanias describes the stadium, theatre and numerous temples to Athena, Poseidon, Helios, the Graces, Sarapis and Isis.  In the 'later city' he described the aqueduct, fountains, temples to Apollo, Aphrodite, Hera and Dyonisus with sanctuaries to Demeter, Artemis, Tyche and Hestia.  'Passing into the sanctuary of Hestia, we see no image but only an alter, and they sacrifice to Hestia upon it'.  This temple of Hestia was quite unique, as the virgin goddess of the hearth, family and home was mostly worshipped in the prytaneum of other Greek cities, the only other temple to Hestia was found in Lacedaemon (Sparta) 

The Christian Roman Emperor Constantine the Great transfered his imperial court from Rome to Byzantium between 324-330 AD.  What had been an ancient Greek colony, founded by Greeks from Megara in 667 BC, Byzantium became the imperial capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.  Constantine spent the rest of his life developing his new capital and gradually the city became to be known as Constantinople, 'City of Constantine', a Christian beacon for a further 1100 years.  Greek continued to be the main language of the city, though initially Latin remained the language of court and the military, but by the 7th Century, Greek was the only language of administration and government in the Romano-Byzantine Empire, and Orthodox Christianity its dominant faith.

Many churches and monasteries were built in the Peloponnese and Greece during the Byzantine era.  A Christian three-aisled basilica with impressive mosiac floors, excavated next to today's Ermioni Town Hall, provides the existence and predominance of early Christian worship in Hermione during the Byzantine period.  The present Metropolis church of Agioi Taxiarches (Archangels) in the old village and the small church of Panaghia within the monastery of Agioi Anargyroi, near Ermioni, were built during the 9th Century, with the monastery itself being constructed in the 11th Century, over the foundations of an ancient temple of Asclepios.

During the Norman and Frankish occupation of the Peloponnese (Medieval Morea) following the Crusades in the 12th and early 13th Centuries, Ermioni was encircled by stone walls that were erected on the remains of ancient structures, acquiring the name Kastri (castle). Due to various Crusader factions vying to control the Morea during this period, the defensive walls of Kastri were extended by the Frankish Crusaders, with more entrance gates being constructed in the outer walls.  Some of these defensive walls can still be seen today, on the Northern side of the Bisti peninsula and at various points throughout the town, however, archaeologists still haven't found any trace of the main entrance gates to the town.  Close to Ermioni, on Lizard rock, near Thermisia, the Crusaders built a hill-top castle in the late 12th Century, which defended valuable salt-pans that were located in the lagoon area below.  Following Venetian rule, the castle surrendered to the Ottoman Kasim Pasha in 1537, the same year that Ermioni was captured.  In 1689 the Venetians regained control of the castle from the Ottomans, finally destroying the castle when they left in 1715.  The ruins of this coastal castle can be visited today, with a moderate 350 metre climb.

It was discovered and verified in 2020 that the flag of Medieval Kastri was the red cross on a white background.  This symbol was used by many Crusaders from the late 11th - 13th Century in their quest for Jerusalem, although these Crusades continued until the 15th Century.  Many historians now believe that King Richard the Lionheart adopted this flag, and the patron Saint George, from Genoa at some point during the Third Crusade, to become the emblem of his English army.  Today, this iconic flag has been resurrected in Ermioni to identify its historic Medieval past and usually flies above the town war memorial.

Thoughout the whole Medieval period, the Franks, Genoese, Byzantines and Venetians vyed for domination of the Greek mainland and her islands.  The Byzantines and Venetians built massive fortifications at nearby Nafplio, Argos, Acrocorinth, Monemvasia and Mystras, and would have influenced the whole of Morea.  In this period of political infighting, the Hellenic people kept a strong belief in their Orthodox Christian religion, language and cultural identity, as on the horizon decended a dark cloud of the Ottoman Empire.

With the capture of Thessaloniki in 1430, the Ottomans eventually turned their eyes to the Imperial Byzantine city of Constantinople.  The city was beseiged on 6 April 1453 by the army of Sultan Mehmed II and assaulted for 53 days.  Constantinople was finally taken on 29 May 1453, with the last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI Palaiologos, being killed in the final assault on his city, his royal standard of the Empire would fly no more.  The tragic loss of Constantinople brought an end to the Byzantine Empire and the end of the late Medieval period. 

Kastri eventually came under the control of Ottoman Turks in 1537, when the Kastri fortress on the Bisti was laid under siege and finally overpowered by numerically superior Ottoman forces.  As Kastri was about to fall, the Byzantine Greeks, Venetians and their Christian allies who had heroically defended the fortress managed to escape to safety.  What the besieging Ottoman army didn't know was that there were 17 secret escape points within the fortress, leading to an underground tunnel cut into the limestone rock, which the whole of Ermioni is built on.  This tunnel led the defenders to 3 concealed escape points outside the fortress walls. All three escape points have now been discovered, one being at the church of Aghios Athanasios, near the Bisti, another coming out opposite the present Mandrakia slipway, and the third exit point is close to the Byzantine Agioi Taxiarches church in the old village. The Franks had already surrendered most of the Argolis region to the Ottoman Turks in 1460, although Nafplio remained in Venetian hands until 1540.  During the following period of Ottoman occupation, the Christian basilica and most of the defensive walls of Medieval Kastri were dismantled and used for the reconstruction of Ermioni and Hydra.  This transfer of stone and marble also included the ancient temples and theatre, that had been constructed on the Poseideon peninsula in the 6th to 4th Century BC. 

The flag of the Byzantine Empire which existed in the later centuries of the Empire, mostly as an Imperial emblem, survived the fall of Constantinople and has remained in use until the present time.  The black double headed eagle on yellow background, looking to the West and the East, was originally created by Emperor Komnenos to protect both the Eastern and Western borders of the Empire, the crown was added later.  This flag was then adopted by the Greek Orthodox Church, perhaps the symbol of the Ecumenical Partrirchate of Constantinople and can be seen flying from churches and monasteries throughout Greece.

The Greek people continued living their everyday lives under harsh Ottoman oppression, but they never lost their will to be free.  Numerous revolts broke out against the occupation, but these were quickly supressed by the occupying Ottoman forces.  One such rebellion was the Orlov Revolt  that was an uprising in the Peloponnese that arose in February 1770.  This followed the arrival of Admiral Alexei Orlov, commander of the Russian Imperial Navy during the Russo-Turkish War, 1768-1774, to the Mani peninsula.  Greek rebel forces were organised, ready to fight the Ottomans and establish a pro-Russian Independent Greek State.  The rebels were initially successful and managed to defeat Ottoman forces in Laconia and Messenia.  With the assistance of Greek islanders from Chios, the Russian fleet destroyed the Ottoman Navy in the Battle of Cesme in July 1770, however, this did not help the Greek fighters in the Peloponnese.  As the Russians failed to bring the forces they had originally promised, the revolt was crushed.

Ottoman reaction to the Orlov Revolt was instant, Muslim Albanian mercenaries were recruited in order to strangle the revolt in the Peloponnese, exterminating and enslaving the Greek population in all major cities, towns and villages.  Ottoman forces continued their vengance in other parts of Greece and Asia Minor.  Sultan Mustafa III was determined to punish the entire Greek Orthodox community of the Empire, to make an example to other nationalities living under his supreme control about any thought of freedom.

The Greek War of Independence was started within the Peloponnese on 17th March 1821.  About 2,500 Hellenic revolutionaries met at the village of Areopoli in the Mani region and marched towards Kalamata.  The Ottoman garrison surrendered Kalamata and the city was liberated on 23rd March 1821, the victory was celebrated in the church of the Holy Apostles and the Hellenic Revolution was declared.  The revolution soon spread throughout the Peloponnese and Greece, the Ottoman adminastrative and military centre of Tripolitsa fell to the Greeks on September 23rd after a lengthy seige.  Ermioni had survived the Turkish occupation due to its powerful shipping, and later took part in several land and sea battles, alongside Hydra and Spetses, in the cause of Greek Independence.  During this struggle for freedom, Ermioni hosted the Third National Assembly of Greece, January to March 1827, on the upper floor of the building which has become the Ermioni Museum of History and Folklore.  Many prominent leaders of the Hellenic revolution attended these historic meetings, including Greek general Theodoros Kolokotronis.  

The President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, visited the Ermioni Museum of History and Folklore on Sunday 12th March 2017, to celebrate the 190th Anniversary of the famous and historic Third National Assembly held in Ermioni in 1827.     Images of visit: www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/albums/72157677848151254 

Even before the Revolt started in 1821, most Hellenic revolutionaries had used the Kolokotronis family flag from 1770-1822, it was the most widely used flag throughout Greece in the initial stages of the revolution.  The second flag was used by the fighters of the autonomous Mani peninsula in 1821 when they liberated Kalamata on 23rd March 1821 and declared the start of the revolution.  It had the words of 'Victory or Death' and the ancient Spartan motto 'With it or upon it' in reference to the Spartan hoplon shield.  Guerilla fighters used the third flag with the more common words of 'Freedom or Death' which is the motto of Hellenic forces today.  When the First National Assembly of Greece met in Epidavros in 1822, they adopted the fourth flag to replace the multitude of local revolutionary flags then in use, since 1828 this flag was flown within the new nation until 1970.  The fifth flag was also adopted by the First National Assembly in 1822 as the Hellenic naval ensign, but has progressed to represent the modern Hellenic Republic.

The English romantic poet, Lord Byron, is one of the best-known philhellenes who actively participated in Greece's War of Independence.  In his Mediterranean tour of 1809, Byron visited Greece for the first time and immediately fell in love with the country.  Lord Byron received an invitation to actively support the Hellenic struggle in 1823, spending most of his personal fortune on maintaining ships of the Greek fleet and forming his own military squad, the 'Byron Brigade'.  Whilst in Missolonghi, a major stronghold of the Greek rebels, he fell ill and died, aged just 36, on 19th April 1824.  He is commemorated in Missolonghi by a cenotaph containing his heart and a statue in the Garden of Heroes.  'Byron Day' is celebrated throughout Greece on 19th April. 

To add even more confusion and chaos to the revolution, the Greek War of Independence was marked by two Civil Wars, the first between Autumn 1823 and June 1824, and the second between October 1824 and February 1825.  The conflict had both political and regional dimensions as it pitted the Roumeliotes and Islanders, including Hydra (led by Alexandros Mavrokordatos) against the Peloponnesians and Moreotes (led by Theodoros Kolokotronis).  These civil wars divided the young nation and seriously weakened the military capabilities of the Hellenic fighters in the face of the oncoming intervention of Egyptian Ottoman forces into the conflict.

In 1825, the Hellenic government led by Georgios Kountouriotis, who was now firmly established as its leader, and the entire revolution were gravely threatened by the arrival of Egyptian forces, led by Ibrahim Pasha.  With the support of Egyptian sea power, the Ottoman forces successfully invaded the Peloponnese, finally capturing Missolonghi in April 1826, the town of Athens in August 1826 and the Athenian acropolis in June 1827.  At this point, the Hellenic struggle for its independence looked to be over.   

As the long and bitter fight for independence continued, the Great Powers (Kingdom of France, United Kingdom and the Russian Empire) decided to intervene in the conflict.  When news came that a large combined Ottoman and Egyptian fleet was preparing to attack the island of Hydra, the 3 Great Powers each sent a fleet to intercept.  The naval Battle of Navarino in October 1827 resulted in the total destruction of the Ottoman-Egyptian fleet.  It was the last naval battle in history to be fought entirely with sailing ships. Although it was a great victory for the Hellenic cause, it required two more military interventions, by Russia and France, to force the Ottoman forces to withdraw from central and southern Greece.  In September 1829, after eight years of conflict, the Ottomans' capitulated and the Hellenic people achieved their independence.  At the Convention of London in 1829 the Great Powers insisted that Greece became a monarchy, with the young philhellene Otto, second son of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, being chosen to become the very first King of Greece.  To the joy of the long suffering Hellenic people, Greece was finally recognised as an independent nation on 7 May 1832 with the Treaty of Constantinople.

King Othon arrived at Nafplio, his provisional capital, on 6 February 1833 on the British frigate HMS Madagascar.  He had already Hellenized his name, adopted the Greek national costume and started making plans to rule Greece and create a new capital for his Kingdom, in Athens.  After 30 years as King of Greece, Othon and his wife Queen Amalia were deposed and expelled in 1862.  In 1863 the Greek National Assembly elected Prince Vilhelm of Denmark, as King of Hellenes, under the regnal name of George I. George's reign of almost 50 years was characterised by territorial gains as Greece established its place in pre-World War I Europe. 

At the beginning of the 20th Century, Greece, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Serbia, countries that had all achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire, had formed the Balkan League.  In October 1912, the League declared war on the crumbling Ottoman Empire.  After five Centuries of European occupation, the Ottoman Empire lost almost all of these territories within 7 months, as the First Balkan War ended with the Treaty of London.  The Second Balkan War broke out when Bulgaria attacked Serbia and Greece in June 1913, due to its dissatisfaction over the division of Macedonia. Greek and Serbian armies repulsed the offensive and counter attacked into Bulgaria.  As the Second Balkan War ended with the Treaty of Bucharest in July 1913, Greece had increased her territories by 68% from the start of the conflict. These Balkan Wars were ultimately one of the major causes that led to the start of the First World War in 1914.  The Kingdom of Greece tried to stay neutral in the Great War, due to its past connections with the German royal family.  However, Greece finally declared war against the Central Powers in June 1917, partly as Greece was promised territorial gains of the defeated Ottoman Empire.  Since the fall of the Byzantine Empire and the birth of the Kingdom of Greece, the dream of most Greek people was the return of the sacred city of Constantinople to Greece and Christianity, together with all the historic Greek coastal cities of Asia Minor.  When the Great War ended in victory for the Allied Nations, the Royal Hellenic army took part in the 14 July 1919 'Bastille Day' Victory Parade in Paris. 

The dream for a resurrected united Greek speaking empire, the Megali Idea, led to the Greco-Turkish War in 1919-1922.  The Triple Entente ordered the Royal Hellenic army to land at Smyrna, to protect the 2.5 million Greeks and Christians still living in the Ottoman Empire.  This was in response to the systematic killing of Ottoman Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians, instigated by the government of the Ottoman Empire and the new Turkish National Movement, which included massacres, death marches and executions.  Several hundred thousand Christian Ottoman Greeks, particularly from the Pontus region, were killed during this tragic period.  This ill-fated military expedition which had started with so much confidence, led to the total defeat and eventual evacuation of the whole Royal Hellenic army from Asia Minor.  Following the 'Smyrna Catastrophe' in September 1922, the city's role as a bastion of Greek and Christian culture, going back many thousands of years, came to an abrupt end.  The majority of the 1.6 million homeless Greek refugees from Asia Minor re-settled around Piraeus, Thessaloniki and the islands of Chios and Mitylene, with about 7,000 coming to the Ermionida area.  Ermioni's town boundries expanded to accommodate this huge increase in population and dwellings, however, by 1928 only about 35 refugees from Attaleia and Smyrna remained in Ermioni, as most had moved on seeking work in Attica.  These Ionian, Aeolian and Anatolian refugees brought very little with them, apart from their ancestral traditions, culture and music.  Many local songs performed in Ermioni today, have their roots from the old Greek coastal colonies and cities of Asia Minor (Turkey) like Smyrna (Izmir) Miletus (Milet) and Ephesus (Efes), which were originally founded by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists in the 11th and 10th Centuries BC, becoming greater and wealthier than most cities on the Greek mainland.

After the start of the Second World War, Greece was invaded by Mussolini's Italian forces on 28th October 1940.  Although the smaller Greek army threw the Italians back into Albania, this resulted in Nazi Germany coming to the Italians aid in April 1941, bringing with them the full force of the 'blitzkrieg' and occupation of Athens on 27th April 1941.  Following many battles against the Axis Italian and German forces, praise was given by friend and foe alike to the courage shown by the defiant Royal Hellenic army.  The Nazi Fuhrer Adolf Hitler personally gave general praise to "the Greek soldier, who of all the adversaries that confronted us, fought with the highest courage and disregard of death" and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who said "Hence we will not say that Greeks fought like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks".  By the 1st of June, the battle and conquest of Greece was completed following the fall of Crete at the end of May, the country was then brutaly occupied for over three years by Nazi German, Italian and Bulgarian troops.  The allied armies finally liberated Athens, and Greece, from Nazi occupation on 12th October 1944.  Today, the Ermioni fallen from all these 20th Century conflicts are remembered by name on the white marble war memorial, with the mythical Phoenix at its crest, that stands at the centre of the Limani waterfront.  This war monument is the focal point for many of Ermioni's present day civic occasions and religious festivals.

The horrors and suffering inflicted on the Greek population during the Second World War (especially the civilian massacres commited by Nazi forces in the mountain villages in and around Kalavrita on 13th December 1943) continued after the liberation of mainland Greece, with the Greek Civil War, 1946-1949.  Ermioni escaped the brutality of this conflict as the Ermionida area was predominantly loyal to the King and government, initially supported by Great Britain and eventually by the United States of America, and did not endure the horrific hostilities against the smaller KKE and DSE partisan army in Northern Greece, funded by Yugoslavia, Albania and Bulgaria.  Greece is now officially named the Hellenic Republic, but this loyalty seems to continue today, as the exiled former King Constantine of Greece has been recently allowed to acquire a couple of private estates within Ermionida.

Having taken part in all the significant historical moments of the country, Ermioni has managed to preserve its past heritage into the present, and remains one of a few Hellenic settlments to be continually inhabited from pre-Mycenaean times to the present period.  


As a visitor, it is worth walking up to the Old Village, to see the recently restored 9th Century Byzantine Metropolis church of Taxiarches (Archangels), which was built on the same ground where the ancient temple of Demeter once stood.  The ancient streets can easily be detected around the surrounding walls of the church, which were in turn surrounded by Cyclopean walls, some of which still remain today.  A characteristic house of the period, which has been carefully restored, is located diagonally across from the Taxiarches church.  This building is where the Third National Assembly of Greece met in 1827, on the upper floor, attended by the famous Greek general Theodoros Kolokotronis, a national hero of the Greek War of Independence. Today, this fortified building has become the Ermioni Museum of History and Folklore with the ground floor displaying many costumes and household items, with the upper floor dedicated to the period of the Hellenic revolution, featuring portraits, documents, uniforms and weapons of the time.

Outside the museum, there is a small garden which has two marble statues of Ermioni's greatest Independence War heroes.  They are the Mitsas brothers who led the Ermioni rebellion against the Ottoman Turks.  One of the brothers, Yiannis, gave his life in the struggle for Independence, the other brother, Stamatis, survived and went on to become an admiral in the Hellenic Navy.  On 25th March, Independence Day, there are tributes and blessings given to the Mitsas heroes by the people of Ermioni.  It was in 1821, that the Hellenic Revolutionaries gathered at Areopoli in the Mani and marched to Kalamata, capturing the city on 23rd March.  This action ignited the Greek revolt in the Peloponnese, which spread throughout Greece against the Ottoman Turkish Empire.  After much suffering and sacrifice, it brought to life a new independent Greek Kingdom, which evolved to become the Hellenic Republic.   

Beyond the old village is the ancient Hill of Pronos.  This is where the local children and adults enjoy flying their kites each year on 'Clean Monday', accompanied by traditional Greek folk music and dancing.  At the crest of the hill is the mid-18th Century church of Aghia Ermioni (picture left) built on the foundations of the 5th Century BC temple to the goddess Hera.  This ancient Hill of Pronos, which was inhabited during the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods, overlooked the ancient commercial port of Hermione. Today, this ancient port is under water (picture right) but can still be detected from the hill above.  The military port was located along the Northern side of the Poseideon Bisti citadel, beneath the original Mycenaean, and later Byzantine, Frankish and Venetian walls.  On the other side of the Hill of Pronos, running parallel to the present main road into Ermioni, one can clearly see the different sections of the Hellenistic and Roman aqueduct that supplied unlimited fresh water to the growing number of its citizens. This vital fresh water supply has been so important for the development of Ancient Hermione, Medieval Kastri and Modern Ermioni.

Archaeological excavations were carried out on the Poseideon-Kastri-Bisti peninsula in 1908 by Alex Philadelpheas, and continue within the Ermioni area (during certain periods) to the present day by modern archaeologists.  Many important historical finds are on display within the Ancient Hermione section, at the Archaeological Museum of the Peloponnese, in Syntagma Square, Nafplio.


'Beyond the Acropolis - A rural Greek past'  by Tjeerd van Andel & Curtis Runnels  Amazon   About ancient Hermione and region.

'Papas' Greece'  by Tessa and Bill Papas   Amazon    A humorous look at local life in Ermioni and Greece during the early 1970s. 

'Paradise Lost - Smyrna 1922 : Destruction of Islam's City of Tolerance'  by Giles Milton. The catastrophe affecting ordinary people.   


 Hermione:  Ancient name of the town.     Ermionis:  Ancient name of the Hermione Kingdom.     Poseideon:  Ancient name of the Bisti peninsula citadel.   Kastri:  Medieval name of the town and citadel.   Ermioni:  Modern name of the town.   Ermionida:  Modern name of the ancient Ermionis Kingdom area.

Ermionida today includes the towns of Ermioni, Kranidi and Porto Heli, and the villages of Kilada, Thermisia, Dardiza, Iliokastro, Loukaiti, Kouverta, Petrothalassa, Aghios Emilianos, Kosta, Veveronda, Didyma, Salanti, Fourni, Porto Hydra, Pigadia, Plepi and Metohi. 


Ancient Hermione - Poseideon
Medieval Kastri - Modern Bisti - Ermioni
37° 23' 3.3324" N, 23° 15' 28.0008" E
Picture Gallery
Artists impression of the Poseideon Bisti peninsula 1500 BC Stone fortifications of the original citadel of Kastri Ancient Hermione - Poseideon fortifications Medieval Ermioni - Kastri fortifcations Part of the Frankish defensive walls of the Bisti Kastri Cyclopean walls near the entrance to Ermioni Hellenistic walls beneath the new Ermioni library in the old village Cyclopean stones opposite the Byzantine Taxiarches church Pediments and columns of the ruined temple of Poseidon Foundations of the temple of Athena on the Bisti peninsula 5th Century BC foundation stones of the temple of Athina Christian basilica foundation stones on the Bisti peninsula Deep wells gave the defenders unlimited fresh water Archaeological excavation site alongside church of Ag. Nikolaos Archaeological excavation site alongside church of Ag. Nikolaos Classical remains from the Temple of Poseidon Ancient warriors tomb on the Poseideon Bisti peninsula Bronze 'Corinthian' style helmet found in ancient Hermione Finds from Ancient Hermione on display in the Nafplio museum The sunken commercial harbour of ancient Hermione A town grew up around the harbour near the hill of Pronos Hellenistic aqueduct brought water to the growing population Various sections of the ancient Hermione aqueduct Marble Hellenistic residents of ancient Hermione Renovated Mitsas windmill (milos) on the Bisti peninsula Ermioni wedding dress on display (right) from the late 19th Century Household and garden items on display in the Ermioni museum Historic costumes on display in the Ermioni museum Military costumes, weapons and artifacts on display in the Ermioni museum Revolutionary heroes that attended the 3rd National Assembly General Theodoros Kolokotronis, hero of the Greek Revolution, present at the 1827 National Assembly in Ermioni The Mitsas brothers, Ermioni heroes in the War of Independence 1821-1829 Mycenaean Bronze Age warriors - 1600-1100 BC The Trojan War - 1194-1184 BC Battle of Marathon - September 490 BC Battle of Salamis - September 480 BC Battle of Plataea - August 479 BC Alexander the Great - 356-323 BC Fall of the sacred city of Constantinople - 29 May 1453 Hellenic Revolution - 17/25 March 1821 Hellenic War of Independence - 1821-1829 Battle of Navarino - October 1827 Royal Hellenic Army - First Balkan War 1912 Royal Hellenic Army - Second Balkan War 1913 Great War Victory Parade in Paris - July 1919 Royal Hellenic Army in Smyrna - May 1920 Royal Hellenic Army in Northern Greece - December 1940 Ermioni war memorial with military escort