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Historic Sites in the Troezene (Trizina) Area -

  • Theseus Rock.
  • Tower of Diateichisma (Castle of Damala).
  • Devil's Bridge (Illikos Aqueduct).
  • Olive Groves and Terraces.
  • Hippolytos Temple.
  • Asklepieion.
  • Temple of Aphrodite / Panagia Episkopi.
  • Early Christian Church.
  • Monastery of Aghios Dimitri.
  • Museum of Poros (Exhibits from Troezene).

View of ancient Troezene
Ancient Troezene : Asklepeion and Temple of Hippolyton



Introduction ...

Troezene (Trizin, Trizina) is the hidden and almost-forgotten historical gem of the Poros area. Now a small hillside town surrounded by olive and lemon trees, fruit bushes and flowers, there was once a much larger town in the pre-Classical and Classical periods, as important as Aegina, Mycenae and Epidauros. In legend it is the birthplace of King Theseus of Athens, whose mother Aethra had an affair with his father King Aegeas of Athens. Theseus's conception was popularly said to be the result of Aethra being lured to Spheria (modern Poros) by Athena on behalf of Poseidon, but Aegeus was more likely to have had a hand in it. However, the historic city-state of Troezen was an important kingdom in Greece, contributing forces to the fall of Troy, the defeat of the Persians and resistance to the conquest of Greece by Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. Despite disease, destruction by Goths, earthquakes, wars and economic decline, Troezene can claim to be one of the oldest towns in Greece.

To reach Trizina (the modern town), one can take a bus from Galatas, but it may be more convenient to pay a few Euros and take a taxi up from Galatas. The main square has a rather nice taverna with a picture of a muscular Theseus lifting a stone whilst Aethra watches. It is a good spot to sit and take refreshment after ordering another taxi back to Galatas.

The bulleted list above is the order in which you may visit the main historic sites within the bounds of ancient Troezene, a convenient walk west of Trizina. The writer and his wife took about three hours on a rather leisurely circular walk that covered all the sites except the monastery of Aghios Dimitri and the port of the Pogon.
Pogon, the ancient port of Troezene, was at the extreme west of the Poros Harbour, on an inlet called Ormoz Vidio. Long silted up and unused, Pogon was once as significant as ancient Kalaureia and the harbour of Aegina. War galleys from Pogon may have gone to Troy, certainly later helping fight off the Persians at the battles of Artemision and Salamis.


The Theseus Stone :

To reach this, one takes the road northwest along the hillside from the T-junction above the square, walking to a small Y-junction about 500 metres distant. The stone is very obviously the one depicted on the taverna wall, and is in the fork of the junction. Theseus is supposed to have retrieved his father's sword and sandals from under the rock, wearing the sandals and making good use of the sword, on his heroic walk from Troezene round the Corinth Isthmus to Athens. The writer feels that Theseus - who seems to have had a lot of sense - probably used a lever to raise the stone enough to look under it. Whether the stone is the genuine one is a matter for conjecture. Beyond it are some barrel-vaults, indicating that some large building stood on them, but their date is not indicated.

From this point one can walk up round the corner of the road to the Tower.


Tower of Diateichisma (Castle of Damala) :

This Tower has a curious history. The lower section is of well-laid coursed stonework of Hellenic (c. 200 BC) date, the last remaining# part of a wall with at least three towers, protecting the upper section of the ancient town from attack. In Byzantine times, Emperor Leon the Philosopher renamed the area 'Damala', a castle being built around this tower by Frankish invaders in 1231. Gradually, the Byzantine Emperors re-asserted their authority, the Castle of Damala being one of three Argolis fortresses handed to the Venetians in 1453. That ploy kept the Turks out of Troezene for a while after Constantinople (Byzantium) had fallen, and may have been the reason for some of the buildings in Poros having an Italianate appearance.

The Tower has a ground floor doorway and stair to the first floor, but may have had an entry from the slope behind the tower into its first floor. Some windows and doorways have been blocked up during its history, but enough survives to indicate that the tower had up to four floor levels, with fireplaces of 14th to 15th century date. Although the masonry in the upper section is not as impressive as the lower, the masonry is properly coursed and has signs of the putlog (scaffolding) holes that held timbers in place during construction or repairs to the Tower.


Devil's Bridge (Illikos Aqueduct) :

This is about 600 metres further up the track from the Tower, which narrows to a footpath for the last section before the Bridge itself. The writer noticed that the path follows a rock-cut gulley up to the edge of the bridge, which spans the gorge of the River Illikos. An overgrown path on the far side of the gorge runs inland and up the gorge to intersect the river-bed. The bridge is part of an ancient aqueduct, which fed water by gravity from an intake along channels down to the town of Troezene. A gutter-like section of aqueduct still remains on the bridge. The gulley approaching the bridge was evidently part of the aqueduct system.

Troezene was built between two of these gorges, the water of which flows throughout the year; bearing in ind the seasonal nature of many Greek rivers, this water source gave as great an advantage and wealth in Classical ties as it does today.


Olive Groves and Terraces :

The entire ancient city site is terraced and planted with high-value olive and citrus orchards, or with the flowers for which the area is famous in Greece. The natural fertility of the soil indicates that the permanent and seasonal rivers brought down a lot of sediment. The proximity to the Methana volcano, active until historical times, further indicates sources of useful plant minerals. Most ancient towns tended to bury their waste in cess-pits and soakaways, so it is possible that nitrates and phosphates from ancient residents help current fertility. On examination, the terracing appears to be old, broken in places by old irrigation ditches which have been replaced by modern plastic piping. Excavations indicate a layer of soil about two feet deep, above the ruins. It is possible that modern geophysics surveys (as in Time Team) could recover the layout of the ancient town and indicate areas of interest for archaeological investigation.


Hippolytos Temple. :

It is approximately a kilometer from the Theseus Rock to the excavated site of this temple, the badly-robbed foundations of which are slightly to the south of the Asklepieion. The legend is that Hippolytos, the son of Theseus and his first wife the Amazon Hippolyta, was seen by his stepmother Phaedre and she became obsessed by him. Apparently, she used to watch him exercising in the stadium of the Asklepieion at Troezene, where Theseus's aged grandfather Pitheus wanted to make the lad his heir. Phaedre is supposed to have made her move on Hippolytos in the Palace in Athens when Theseus was away. Horrified, the lad repulsed her and fled to Troezene; Phaedre is supposed to have torn her dress and denounced Hippolytos to Theseus for attewmpted rape, so Theseus called on Poseidon for vengeance. Poseidon is supposed to have caused a great wave that hit the Isthmus and Corinth, some say throwing ashore a monster that pursued Hippolytos and upset his chariot by scaring the horses. Thrown onto the rocks, dragged along by the horses, poor Hippolytos was killed; it is said that he was buried in Troezene, his father learning the truth when Phaedre killed herself.

The story is interesting for several reasons; Poseidon was the God of earthquakes as well as of the sea, and the volcanoes of the Aegean are known for earthquakes, eruptions - and tsunamis. It is not beyond possibility that earthquakes in the Aegean near Methana could have sent a tsunami into the Gulf of Corinth. Poseidon is also the God of the Naos Poseidon temple on Kalavria, within sight of Methana. Phaedre is said to have built the Temple of Peeping Aphrodite


Asklepieion :


Temple of Aphrodite / Panagia Episkopi :


Early Christian Church at Troezene :

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Monastery of Aghios Dimitri :

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The Port of Pogon :

The western end of Poros Harbour is called 'Limani Pogonos', its westernmost extension of Ormos Vidiou being the ancient port of Pogon. Now largely silted up by ash from the peninsula of Methana and mud from the fertile Plain of Trizina, this part of the sea near Vidio was once Troezene's well-sheltered port. It seems to have survived into the early mediaeval period, but thereafter faded out. The port seems to have started in the estuary of Trizina's Rema (River) Koumoundourou, a now-seasonal stream. Little remains of the port, but the road down from Trizina and across the Galatas-Corinth road goes across the estuary towards Vidio and Methana.

The writer has yet to visit Pogon but intends to do so and to report findings on this website.


Troezene Exhibits at the Poros Museum :

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© 2007 and 2008 Richard Edkins, Dalbeattie Internet.