The history of Poros Island goes back 2,500 years. Mythology reports that Poros was dedicated to God Poseidon while ancient and recent history states that Poros played an important role in political gatherings throughout the centuries. The temple of Poseidon was located in the area where the church of Aghios Georgios stands today and around the old reservoir to the east. Ruins of this ancient temple still exist in some of the old houses around the church of Aghios Georgios on the island.
Ancient Athenian orator Demosthenes, who had taken refuge on the island chased down by Philip II of Macedon, took his own life by drinking hemlock in 322 BC within the enclosure of the Temple of Poseidon.
The temple of Poseidon was built around 520 BC. The main temple was peripteral hexastyle of Doric Order with 6 columns on each short side and 12 columns on each long side. Around the temple, there was a parvis (walled enclosure), several stoae (covered walkways) and temene (pieces of land dedicated to a god). Another ancient settlement existed in Vagionia Bay but was engulfed by the sea.
As we approach Poros by boat, we can see the historic Clock Tower on the highest top of the hill amid prickle pear trees and pine trees. It was built in 1927, and it is visible from all over the island. It is considered the gem of the town. The view from the Clock Tower is magnificent.
Very close to the island of Poros, there is a small island named Daskalio. It is said that on this island there used to be a chapel called Aghia Anna, but it is unknown when it was built. Today, there is only one church on the island that of the Dormition of the Mother of God, alternatively known as the chapel of Virgin Mary (Panagitsa). The church belongs to the Poros Parish of Aghios Constantinos and Eleni. The islet Daskalio is owned by the Lisa Vanderpool family.
Scenes from the movie “Mrs. Mayor” were shot there and the islet became popular during the 1960’s. Famous Greek actors Vasiliadou and Avlonitis starred in the film. Recently, in 2002, the Greek National Tourism Organization renamed the small island “Eros” meaning Cupid because the island is in the shape of a heart. The organization included the islet on a promotional poster that circulated worldwide.
To the Northwest of the town of Poros, there is a building named “Pregymnasium” which was the first residence of King Othon (Otto) of Greece. Today, drafting and training of navy draftees takes place in this building. After the football field and track of the Naval Training Center, a small canal separates Sphairia from Kalaureia. After the canal, there is a place called Synoikismos which was first inhabited by Asia Minor refugees. On the way back to the canal bridge on the left and towards the west, one will come across an area called Perlia. The road continues along the beach through Villa Galini, Mikro Neorio and all the way to Megalo Neorio. Beyond Megalo Neorio, there is the Cove of Love and the Russian Naval Base. The Russian Naval Base was designated a historical landmark in 1989 due to its architectural and historical significance. Ahead lies the small island of Daskalio at close distance to the shore.
After Synoikismos, following the spiral road amid big pine trees, we reach the chapel of the Virgin Mary of Agia Zoni in a ravine with plane trees and flowing water. Moving on, we can see the small church of Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elias) on the right. Finally, we reach the Palaces where the Temple of Poseidon is located. Little remains today of the Doric temple (6th century) built out of blue limestone. On the right of the canal, the road goes through Kanali and driving eastbound it leads first to Askeli and next to the Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi. The 18th century Monastery is built on a green slope with a view towards the sea and it constitutes a fine example of monastic architecture.
<a a="" archeological="" ckeditor="" images="" link="" data-cke-saved-name="mouseio" name="mouseio" plugins="" scripts="" style="background-position: 0% 50%; border: 1px dotted rgb(0, 0, 255); border-image: none; padding-left: 18px; cursor: auto; background-image: none;" t="E2PC" );"="" the="" www.theseus.net.gr=""> Archaeological Museum of Poros
The Archeological Museum of Poros was built in 1967-1968 at the site of the residence of Alexandros Koryzis whose house was donated by his heirs to the Greek State for the purpose of building the museum. The museum has two exhibition galleries, one on the ground floor and one on the first floor. It hosts exhibits from the entire area of Troizinia, as well as findings of old excavations at Hermione by Philadelpheos.
On the ground floor, the collection includes sculptures and inscriptions from Troezen, Kalaureia and Methana. At the hall entrance, there is a big sculptural relief depicting a dog. The relief was carved in a large stone block featuring anathyroses (door framing) that point to it being part of an ancient building. It was discovered in the village Ano Fanari in an area known as Aghios Georgios in the Foussa valley. The presence of an extensive ancient settlement and cemeteries in that area has long been confirmed. At the same hall entrance, the museum has exhibited in the past a plaster cast of the renowned inscribed stele “decree of Themistocles” with the text of the Athenian decree proposed by Themistocles in 480 BC. The decree concerned the plan to repel the Persian invasion and it was discovered in Troizina. The original is displayed in the Epigraphical Museum of Athens.
Other inscriptions exhibited at the museum include an archaic epigram dating back to 600 BC curved on a rough block of trachyte discovered in Methana and intended as a funerary monument for Androcles, son of Eumares, an honorary decree awarded by the city of Troezen to Echilaos Filonidou of Plaitaia, 369 BC and the inscribed pedestal base of a bronze statue of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, a votive by the city of Methana (175 – 180 AD).
The collection also contains two Classical Period statuettes (a nude boy and a woman wearing a chiton and himation), which were discovered by Legrand in the Acropolis of Troezen and a statuette of Asclepius discovered during the excavation led by Wide in Kalaureia.
Among the exhibits there is an impressive tomb sculptural relief of a woman of unrealistically large size, wearing a peplos and a himation that also covered her head. The head, the neck and the arms were added separately and they were made of separate pieces of marble.
The Museum also has on display funerary stelai from the 4th century BC, recent findings from the cemeteries area in the ancient city. The majority of the funerary stelai of Troezen come from the imperial years. The funerary stele of Kalaureian orator Xenocrates (son of Moschos) who was killed in battle while defending his homeland belongs to the 3rd century BC. The stele was discovered in the area of the cemeteries of ancient Kalaureia located northwest of the temple of Poseidon. Finally, visitors can admire column capitals of the three main architectural orders: Doric - 5th and 6th century BC, Ionic – 4th century BC, and Corinthian of the Roman period.
According to Pausanias, Poros consists of two islands, Sphairia and Kalaureia; the latter was originally dedicated to God Apollo who then gave it to God Poseidon in exchange for Delphi. Sphairia was a volcanic rock, as opposed to Kalaureia that was larger in size and green with a lot of water. Kalaureia got its name from the “gentle breeze” coming from the dense vegetation of olive groves and poplar trees. Another interpretation of the name is that Kalaureia got its name from the son of Poseidon, Kalauros. Sphairia was named after Sphairos. Sphairos was driven away by King Pelops, but he asked the sons of King Pelops, Pittheus and Troezen, for asylum. The two sons granted him his request for asylum and Sphairos ended up on the island where he was eventually buried. The island of Poros has been inhabited since the prehistoric period of the Bronze Age.
In historic times, Dorians dominated Kalaureia, Troezen and Methana.
The temple of Poseidon in the ancient polis (city – state) of Kalaureia possibly symbolized an alliance during the archaic period among the following cities:
- Kalaureia (Poros)
- Arcadian Orchomenus (not Minyean Orchomenus)
- Prassiai (Kynouria or Cynouria)
The Greek invention of Amphictyony was used as a means to resolve conflicts. It was also used in commerce/trade for the cities that took part in the alliance. It was founded sometime between the Mycenaean period and the 7th century BC.
BYZANTINE YEARS AND THE RULE OF THE FRANKS
During the Byzantine years, Kalaureia and Troezen were Greek provinces.
In 396 AD, after the destruction of these two ancient towns, a high magnitude earthquake occurred. As a result of the earthquake the settlement of Vagionia sank at the bottom of the sea. To this day, the ruins of the houses and the streets of the Vagionia settlement are still clearly visible underneath the shallow sea of the Vagionia Bay.
During the rule of the Franks (Frankokratia in Greek), Troezen and Kalaureia (Poros) together with the better part of the Peloponnese belonged to the Principality of Achaea (vassal of the Latin Empire). In 1212, the greater area came under the dominion of the Duchy of Athens.
TURKISH RULE AND REVOLUTIONARY YEARS
Sphairia was first inhabited a little after 1400 by Arvanites from the Peloponnese. The first settlement was created by Arvanites in Kasteli where the modern day Tower Clock is. The beach was inhabited after 1800. In 1718, Poros was given to the Turks in accordance with the Passarowitz treaty.
During the revolt of 1770, Alexei Grigoryevich Orlov set up his naval station on the island. During the Russo-Turkish War in 1806 and just a few years prior to the revolution of 1813, the Russians constructed the Russian Naval Base whose ruins still exist today close to Neorio.