29 March 2012

The lively Mandrakia area of Ermioni

Mandrakia is on the southern side of Ermioni. It is a place where one can sit in a cafe or bar, listening to music, or watch the world go by. This part is classed as the liveliest, as in the many tavernas scattered along the harbour, one can enjoy fresh fish, squid or octopus, served with wine, or the more traditional drink of ouzo.   

Today many yacht flotillas visit and moor up along the waterfront during the busy summer months.  Local fishing boats still continue to use the Mandrakia harbour, as well as amateur fishermen of all ages, trying their skills at fishing in the early hours of the morning, and late evenings.  During the height of summer, the local and visiting Athenians, still take their traditional evening stroll (volta) along the Mandrakia waterfront, before deciding where they will eat. At Mandrakia's western end, you can walk along the road that climbs to the ancient hill of Pronos.  This hill is where the original ancient town of Hermione was located, with a commercial harbour in the bay below.  Today, children and adults alike, fly their kites on Clean Monday, and enjoy traditional dancing and music, accompanied by fasting food. At the top of Pronos hill is the chapel of Aghia Hermione, which has been built on the foundations of an ancient temple to the goddess Hera.  This position commands fantastic views of Mandrakia, Limania and the pine cladded Bisti, as well as the islands of Dokos and Hydra, which are viewed beyond Kapari bay.

The name Mandrakia is the Greek description for 'low walls', which is given to the small stone harbours that are still visible along the original waterfront, before the new road and paved walkway was constructed.  This part of Ermioni was the traditional boat building side of town, in  additions to being the home of the many fishermen and their boats during the 18th - 20th century.  Today, only three of these Mandrakia harbours remain on the far western side of the coastline.  One harbour is still in its original state, the other two being modernised by the nightclubs opposite.  However, it does show how much Ermioni used to rely on the sea for its survival and development.  Sadly, only one traditional fishing boat builder remains today, operating at the far eastern end of Mandrakia, close to the wooded Bisti peninsula.

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