Oreoi, Evia

nereida_oreoi_harbour_eviaThe delightful fishing village of Oreoi, with its sheltered harbour is one of our favourite destinations. With its long sandy beach and sea-front restaurants looking west across the Oreoi Channel, it is a perfect spot to watch the sun go down over the sea.

Historically, Oreoi was much fought over, occupying, as it does, a prime position near the mouth of  the Pagasitic Gulf  and commanding the entrance to the sheltered route down to Athens between Evia and the mainland. The outside route, round the infamous Cavo Doro, was the downfall of many a vessel, and even today has to be avoided in certain weather conditions.

The ancient name for Evia, Euboia (and reflected in the modern Greek spelling of the name  Έυβοια) means “good cattle country”, and the island’s long tradition of raising the best livestock is reflected in the rather handsome ancient marble statue of a bull on the main drag.

The Battle of Artemisium

leonidas_thermopylae

We all love an historic failure, which is why Leonidas’ brave but suicidal “no-man-left-standing” battle at Thermopylae is so much more famous than the simultaneous “bore-your-grandchildren about it” Battle of Artemisium

It is August 480 BC. The Persians, under Xerxes, fancy adding Greece to their ever-growing Empire. Artemisium, on the straights between Evia and The Pelion was the scene of one of the first battles of the war.   

The Persians begin with 1200 warships, whilst the Greeks manage to muster only 271 much slower triremes.  Luckily for the Greeks, a massive thunderstorm smashed 1/3 of the Persians against Mount Pelion, and 200 other Persian ships sailing south round the Cava Doro were lost in the same storm. So 271 Greek ships faced 600 Persians.

With bloated corpses from the storm bobbing around the opposing fleets, the two navies engaged in 3 days of ramming and hand-to-hand fighting on deck.

The Greek line held.

Then came news of the annihilation of Leonidas and the Spartans at Thermopylae.

The Greeks slipped back to Athens at dawn, using the inner channel via Halkida, and the Persians then occupied Oreoi , from where they organised a gruesome sight-seeing tour of the Spartan corpses of Thermopylae on the other side of the straight (taking care to bury their own casualties of the battle first). The battlefield at Thermopylae today boasts a bronze  statue of Leonidas, whereas  Oreoi has to make do with a 6 ton burger-to-be.

oreoi_bull

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