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'

The Ermionida area of Argolida has been inhabited since the Paleolithic period, 40,000 years ago.  Archaeological excavations at the Franchthi Cave, near Ermioni, showed that early humans first appeared around 38,000 BC and found it was last used around 3,000 BC in the Final Neolithic period.  Franchthi Cave is one of the most thoroughly studied sites from the European stone age.

The Dryopians were one of the aboriginal tribes of ancient Greece and the future founders of ancient Hermione.  Herodotus puts their earliest settlements as Mount Oeta and its adjacent valleys of Spercheius and Thermopylae, in a district called Dryopis which extended as far South as Mount Parnassus.  The Malians, in conjuction with Heracles, are said to have driven the Dryopes out of their country and gave their land to the Dorians. The expelled Dryopians then migrated South, resettled and founded Hermione and Asine in Argolida, Carystus in Euboea and Dryopida on the Cycladic island of Kythnos.  Asine was conquered at an early period by the Dorians, however, Hermione continued to exist as an independent Dryopian state which developed into the Hermionis kingdom.

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.  Large stone blocks of the city defences can still be seen behind today's tavernas, at the Western end of the Mandrakia waterfront.

Hermione continued to flourish in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, and during the Classical period it had become 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, Tiryns, Asine and Sparta, and member of the Peloponnesian League.  The city sent 3 trireme warships to fight the Persians at the naval 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.  The following year, the Spartan General Pausanias, leader of the Hellenic League who had led the allied Greeks to victory over the Persians at Plataea, was accused of conspiring with the Persians and recalled to Sparta.  Although these accusations could not be proved, Pausanias (nephew of warrior King Leonidas) left Sparta on his own accord and sailed away in a trireme from Hermione. 

In antiquity, it was clearly stated that Hydra belonged to the Hermionians, which were still referred to as Dryopians at the time of the Greco-Persian Wars.  Following the defeat of the Persian invaders at Plataea, the Hellenic city-states experienced a brief Classical golden age of peace, trade and development.  Trade helped Hermione prosper as a coastal city, as well as helping to create friendly ties with other city-states.  However, by 464 BC the Argives from Argos had taken possession of Hermione and settled an Argive colony there, about the same time they also subdued Mycenae and Tiryns.  Hermione now became a Doric city but retained its ancient Dryopian customs, continuing as an independent city and firmly allied with Lacedaemon Sparta.

Hermione assisted Sparta and her allies in the Peloponnesian War, 431-387 BC, a long civil war against Athens and her allies. During this drawn-out conflict, based in 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, alongside her old allied city-states in the Peloponnese.

After the Macedonian victory over the allied Greek army at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC, King Philip II of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great) established a federation of Greek city-states allied against the Persian Empire, known today as the League of Corinth.  This federation developed to be known as the Achaean League, with Hermione coming under the control of its strategos Aratus of Sicyon in 229 BC.  The Spartan King Cleomenes III waged war against Aratus and the Achaean League and 'liberated' Hermione in 224 BC.  However, with the help of Antigonus III, a regent of Macedon, Aratus' Achaean army defeated Cleomenes' Spartans at the Battle of Sellasia in July 222 BC. Hermione reverted to being a member of the Achaean League.


  The above historical paintings have been created by a local Ermioni artist, Mihalis Papafrangou.  The artists paintings depict scenes of ancient Hermione with the Poseideon citadel, beached warships and construction of the 5th century BC temple of Athena on the present Bisti peninsula  

Hermione witnessed considerable prosperity during the Hellenistic and Republican Roman periods, particularly after the Romans had taken control of the Peloponnese following their victory against the Achaean Greeks and their total destruction of Corinth in 146 BC.  This dissolved the Achaean League and elevated Sparta and her allies.  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.  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 period, bringing fresh clean water from the mountains to a central water fountain.  Built during the reign of Hadrian, the aqueduct has the inscription Aquaeductum in Novis Athenis translated as 'Aqueduct of New Athens'.  When Pausanias visited Hermione, he described with admiration the lavish temples, sanctuaries, stadium, theatre, 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 present monastery of Agioi Anargyroi, near Ermioni, were built during the 9th century.  The monastery itself was constructed in the 14th century, over the foundations of an ancient temple of Asclepios.

Kastri - 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) which remained the name of Ermioni until the end of the Greek Revolution in the 19th century.  Due to various Crusader factions vying to control the Morea during the medieval period, the defensive walls of Kastri were extended by the Frankish Crusaders, with more entrance gates being constructed in the outer walls.  These defensive walls can still be seen today, on the Northern side of the Bisti peninsula and at various points throughout the town.  Close to Ermioni/Kastri, 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 Kastri was captured.  In 1689 the Venetians regained control of Thermisia castle from the Ottomans, finally destroying the castle when they left in 1715. The ruins of this castle can be visited today with a moderate 350m 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.

During 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 Ottoman Turks 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 Fall 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, Arvanites, Venetians and their Christian allies who had heroically defended the fortress managed to escape to safety.  The Arvanites were Christians from todays Southern Albania, that Byzantine rulers brought to Greece in the 13th and 14th centuries to inhabit areas depopulated by war and famine.  Many Arvanites became soldiers and master builders and were at the forefront of resisting the Ottoman regime throughout the occupation.  Many of the iconic heroes of the 19th century War of Independence were Arvantines, including Lascarina Bouboulina, Andreas Miaoulis and Odysseas Androutsos.  What the besieging Ottoman army didn't know was that there were 17 secret escape points within the Kastri fortress, leading to an underground tunnel cut into the limestone rock, which the whole of Ermioni is built upon.  This tunnel led the defenders to three concealed escape points outside the fortress.  All three escape points have now been discovered, one being at the church of Aghios Athanasios, near the Bisti, another exit point was opposite the present Mandrakia slipway, and the third exit close to the Byzantine Agioi Taxiarches church in the Old Village.

The Franks had already surrendered most of the Argolida 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 Patriarchate of Constantinople, and today can be seen flying next to all Greek churches and monasteries.

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 Ottoman occupation, there were 123 revolts and uprisings between 1481 and 1821, generally supported by France and Russia, but these were quickly and ruthlessly supressed by the occupying Ottoman forces.  One such rebellion was the 'Orlov Revolt', 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 Chesme 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 thoughts of freedom.  Although political freedom was one reason for the numerous revolts, it was the clash between Christian and Muslim faiths that was important to most Greek people, who wanted to worship their own God, in their native language, and live in peace. 

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 23rd September after a lengthy seige.  Ermioni/Kastri survived the Turkish occupation due to its powerful shipping, and later took part in several land and sea battles, alongside Hydra and Spetses.  During this struggle for freedom, Ermioni/Kastri hosted the Third National Assembly of Greece, January to March 1827, on the upper floor of the building which has now become the Ermioni Museum of History and Folklore.  Many prominent leaders of the Hellenic revolution attended these historic meetings, including the Greek general of all Peloponnesian forces, Theodoros Kolokotronis.

In the Perivolaki garden outside the Ermioni Museum of History and Folklore, there is a marble memorial to 'The Mitsas Heroes'.  Born in Ermioni/Kastri, these three family members played a great part in the liberation struggle for freedom of the Hellenic nation.  The front two busts represent the brothers Stamatis and Yiannis Mitsas, who fought in the War of Independence (1821-1829).  Yiannis gave his life during the revolution in 1827, whilst Stamatis survived and eventually became an admiral in the Hellenic Navy.  The central marble memorial bust is of the son of Stamatis, Colonel and MP Antonis Mitsas, who became a famous hero during the later Cretan Revolution (1866-1869). Their family home is located along the Mandrakia waterfront. 

The Third National Assembly of Greece was a long drawn-out affair, originally held at Epidavros/Piada in April 1826 but was soon dissolved due to the fall of the major Greek stronghold of Missolonghi.  The Assembly then reconvened separately in Aegina and Ermioni/Kastri from January to March 1827, due to rival revolutionary factions.  After much deliberation, the rival parties agreed to participate in a joint Assembly in Trizina/Damalas from 19th March until 5th May 1827, where the united Assembly adopted a new constitution, agreed to establish Nafplio as the future capital, and elected Ioannis Kapodistrias to become the Governor of Greece. 

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/Kastri in 1827.     Images of visit: www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/albums/72157677848151254 

To celebrate the Third National Assembly of Greece being held in Ermioni/Kastri in 1827, a Presidential Decree in March 2022 made the second Sunday of March an 'annual public holiday of local importance' for the community of Ermioni.   

     Some of the Hellenic flags used during the Greek War of Independence 1821-1829

Even before the Revolt started in 1821, most Hellenic revolutionaries had used the blue cross flag from the 1769 uprising, and 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.  This flag had the words of 'Victory or Death' and the ancient Spartan motto 'With it or upon it' in reference to the Spartan 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 poet, Lord George G. 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. 'Philhellenism Day' is now celebrated in 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) who had the financial and military support of Great Britain, against the Peloponnesians and Moreotes (led by Theodoros Kolokotronis) who had the promises of help from the Orthodox Russian Empire.  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 powerful Ottoman and Egyptian fleet was preparing to attack the island of Hydra, the three Great Powers combined their fleets 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 nine years of conflict, the Ottomans' capitulated and the Hellenic people finally achieved their freedom.  Ioannis Kapodistrias, being a former Foreign Minister of Russia, was elected by the Third National Assembly of Greece as the first Head of State of independent Greece.

At the Convention of London in 1830 the Great Powers insisted that Greece became a monarchy, but selecting a suitable monarch and agreeing territorial boundries became a problem.  For the long suffering Hellenic people, Greece was finally recognised as an Independent Kingdom following the London Protocol on 30th August 1832, which ratified the May 1832 Treaty of Constantinople.  Following the fight for Independence, Kastri reverted to its previous ancient name of Hermione, with its modern spelling of Ermioni.

The Great Powers eventually chose philhellene Otto, second son of King Ludwig of Bavaria, to become the very first King of Greece.  He arrived at Nafplio, his provisional capital, on 6th February 1833 on the British frigate HMS Madagascar. He Hellenised his name and started making plans to rule Greece from 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 the building of the Corinth Canal, the first modern Olympiad and vast 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.  The  combined 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.  On 1st December 1913, the island of Crete was officially intergrated to the Greek State after 709 years of Venetian and Ottoman occupation, when Sultan Mehmet V finally relinquished all sovereignty over the island one month earlier.  The two 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.  Ever 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, Armenians and Assyrians, 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.  After securing Smyrna, the Royal Hellenic Army were given orders to march East into enemy territory. 

As the over-confident Hellenic army advanced from Smyrna into Western Anatolia towards Ankara, their advance was checked by Turkish forces at the Battle of Sakarya in 1921.  With their supply lines over-stretched and the Turkish counter-attack in August 1922, the Greek front collapsed and the defeated army retreated back to the coast.  This ill-fated military expedition which had started with so much confidence, led to the total defeat and final evacuation of the Royal Hellenic army from Asia Minor.  The last Greek troops were evacuated by sea from Smyrna on 8th September 1922.  The following day, the victorious Turkish army of Mustafa Kemal Pasha entered the city and the rampage of rape, looting and destruction began, systematically targeting the Armenian population, with all Ottoman Greeks and Christians at risk.

The 'Great Fire of Smyrna' broke out in the Armenian quarter on 13th September, spreading to the Greek quarter, causing a stampede of people to flee towards the quay.  Up to 400,000 Greek and Armenian refugees crammed the waterfront to escape the fire for over nine full days, with no shelter, food or water.  The fire was extinguished on 22nd September, with the Turkish and Jewish quarters of the city intact.  During this period, between 100,000 and 150,000 Greeks and Armenians were killed, between 35,000 and 100,000 Greek and Armenian men were deported to the Turkish interior, never to return.  Following the 'Smyrna Catastrophe', the city's sacred role as a bastion of Hellenic and Christian culture, going back thousands of years, came to an end.

Once hostilities ceased, a compulsory exchange of Greek and Turkish populations was agreed, culminating with a treaty at the Lausanne Convention in 1923, held by all major nations involved in the Asia Minor conflict.  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.  On Sunday 5th October 1922, 5,000 Greek refugees, mostly women, children and old people on the ocean liner IOANNIS ANDROU anchored off the main port of Ermioni, to the surprise of the 2,000 local inhabitants.  They were made welcome with warm food, blankets and a safe place to sleep.  The refugees repaid their hosts with hard work in the fields and orchards around the town.  Ermioni's town boundries expanded to accommodate this increase in population and dwellings, however, by 1928 only about 35 refugees from Attaleia and Smyrna remained in Ermioni, as most had relocated, seeking work in the Athens and Piraeus regions.  These Ionian, Aeolian and Anatolian refugees brought little with them, apart from their ancestral traditions, culture and music.  Many songs and dances 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-10th cen. BC, becoming greater and wealthier than most cities on the Greek mainland.

In Greece, the Julian calendar was replaced by the Gregorian on 16th February 1923, the date changing to 1st March on that day.

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.  Following a  bitter split between Tito and Stalin, the insurgents lacked the resources to carry on. 

The end of the Civil War in 1949 left Greece in ruins and even greater economic distress that it had been following the end of German occupation.  It divided the people for ensuing decades, with both sides vilifying their opponents.  The polarization and instability of Greek politics throughout the 1950s until the mid-60s was a direct result of the Civil War and the deep divide between the leftist and rightist sections of Greek society.  On 21 April 1967, a group of right-wing and anti-communist army officers executed a military coup d'etat and seized power from the government, using the political instability and tension of the time as a pretext.  This military junta, later referred to as the 'Regime of the Colonels', lasted until its dramatic downfall in mid-1974.

24th July 1974 is one of the most important days in modern Greek history, as it marks the restoration of democracy after seven years of brutal military dictatorship under the Colonel's regime.  This led to the transitional period known in Greece as Metapolitefsi which eventually led to the establishment of the Third Hellenic Republic.

The military dictatorship collapsed following its involvement in overthrowing the Cypriot President, Archbishop Makarios, resulting in the 20th July 1974 invasion and occupation of Northern Cyprus by Turkish armed forces.  In November, a newly elected democratic Greek government abolished the monarchy, making Greece's official name the Hellenic Republic.  The new government then legalised the KKE communist party and introduced a constitution that guaranteed political freedom, individual rights and free elections.  Constantine II (1940-2023) became the last King of Greece, sent into exile, he spent many years living in the United Kingdom.  The former King was finally allowed to return to Greece in 2002 and acquired a couple of private estates in Ermionida. 

During the turbulent 1970s period under the hated 'Colonel's junta', Ermioni had started to develop its tourism industry with new hotel/apartment facilities, new tavernas, cafes and bars, to welcome local and foreign visitors seeking the 'authentic' Greece.  The waterfronts of Limani and Mandrakia were paved and the old dirt roads around the Bisti peninsula were resurfaced and completed during the early 1990s.  For a more detailed description of the development of Ermioni during the 20th century, please click here.  

Accession negotiations for Greece to join the European Economic Community, EEC (predecessor of the European Union) finally concluded in May 1979 with Greece becoming a member state of the EEC on the 1st January 1981.  EEC/EC/EU membership has helped Greece modernize its state and infrastructure, strengthen its economy and accelerate social progress.  Being a member state of the European Union has given Greece an uninterrupted period of political stability, peace, democracy and prosperity, despite the economic crisis, austerity measures, I.M.F. bailouts, first communist government and possible 'Grexit'.

On 1st January 2002, Greece became the 12th European country to adopt the single euro currency, discarding its former drachma.

Some Greek highlights at the turn of the new millennium included: The unfancied Greek national football team winning the UEFA European Championship at the June/July Euro 2004 held in Portugal, where they beat the tournament favourite hosts in the final.  Athens hosting the successful Summer Olympic Games in August 2004, the first time that the Games had returned to Greece since she had resurrected the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.  Greece winning the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest, Helena Paparizou performing the song 'My Number One'.  These social events gave the Greek people a sense of pride and acheivement in their country, as very soon after, Greece slid into an economic crisis that would last for more than a decade.

The new Municipality of Ermionida was established on 1st January 2011, created by merging the two pre-existing municipalities of Kranidi and Ermioni.  The seat of the Municipality of Ermionida was designated to Kranidi, with the office of the Regional Mayor and Councellors, with the newly established boundries of the municipality corresponding to the historic ancient kingdom of Ermionis. 

Ermioni and its citizens survived the difficult economic times, then, just as life seemed to be improving, the 2020/21 Covid-19 lockdowns began.  The historic coastal town then experienced a moderate resurgence, with a gradual return of local and foreign visitors that enjoy Ermioni's authentic traditional charm.  We hope Ermioni continues to be there for us all, to enjoy the past, today.  

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.  


It is worth walking up to the Old Village, to see the restored 9th century Byzantine Metropolis church of Taxiarches, dedicated to the two Archangels, Michael and Gabriel.  This historic church 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 ancient Cyclopean city walls, some parts of which still remain in place today.

A characteristic house of the mid-18th century, the Economou House, which has been 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 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 the 'Perivolaki' garden which has a memorial to Ermioni's famous war heroes.  The front two are the Mitsas brothers who led the Ermioni rebellion against the Ottoman Turks (1821-1829).  One of the brothers, Yiannis, gave his life in the struggle for Independence, the younger brother, Stamatis, survived and went on to become an admiral in the Hellenic Navy.  The third bust is of the son of Stamatis, Antonis Mitsas, who became a hero of the the Cretan Revolution (1866-1869).  On the 25th March, Independence Day, there are tributes and blessings given to the Mitsas heroes by the people of Ermioni.  After much suffering and sacrifice, these revolts brought to life an independent Greek State, 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 Northern side of the Hill of Pronos, running parallel to the present main road into Ermioni, one can clearly see the different stone sections of the ancient 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.

In October 2020, plans were discussed for creating an Archaeological Museum in Ermioni.  The old neoclassic Town Hall building, originally the Ermioni primary school, was ceded in 2018 by the former Municipal Council of Ermioni to the Greek Ministry of Culture.  This exciting new project has been instigated by Marianna V. Vardinogianni, a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and patron benefactor of the annual Cultural Awards that are presented in Ermioni.  Marianna, who was born in Ermioni, was supported by the Hellenic Minister of Culture and Sports, Lina Mendoni, the Curator of Antiquities of Argolida and the Regional Mayor of Ermionida. 

On 25th March 2021, Greece celebrated the 200th Anniversary of the start of the Greek War of Independence.  However, due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the celebrations were restricted to a historic parade held in Athens only, attended by representatives of the United Kingdom, France, Russia and Cyprus.  The parade began with mounted and marching warriors of the 1821 Revolution, followed by period uniformed soldiers of the two Balkan Wars, First and Second World Wars, in addition to the majestic Hellenic Presidential Guard, the Evzones.  Finally, today's Greek troops in armoured vehicles rolled by with a flypast of the latest Hellenic Air Force helicopters and aircraft, accompanied by new American, French and British warplanes.

Ermioni celebrated the bicentennial celebrations by decorating the town with banners and images of the Revolutionary Heroes along both waterfronts, War Memorial, Town Hall, Museum of History and Folklore and the Kapodistrian School in the Old Village.  


  • '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.
  • 'Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City'  by Marjorie Housepian Dobkin.  An essential work raising profound issues of history.


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

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


Ancient Hermione - Poseideon/Bisti
Medieval Kastri - Modern 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 defensive walls of the Bisti Kastri peninsula 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 Ancient Roman aqueduct brought water to the growing population Section of the ancient Hermione aqueduct on the Hill of Pronos Marble sculpture of early Roman 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 Mitsas' Memorial - Ermioni heroes of the Greek Revolution 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 Age of 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 Naval 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 Bicentennial celebrations 1821-2021 - Parade in Athens Bicentennial celebrations 1821-2021 - Parade in Athens Bicentennial celebrations 1821-2021 - Parade in Athens Bicentennial celebrations 1821-2021 - Parade in Athens Bicentennial celebrations 1821-2021 - Displays in Ermioni Bicentennial celebrations 1821-2021 - Displays in Ermioni Bicentennial celebrations 1821-2021 - Displays in Ermioni Bicentennial celebrations 1821-2021 - Displays in Ermioni