Trikeri Island

 

trikeri_islandAt the end of the Pelion Peninsula is the tiny island of Trikeri, one of Greece’s undiscovered gems. Only about 20 people live here. There are no roads, and no cars – transport is on foot or by mule.  It is less than thirty minutes’ walk from one side to the other and you walk through hillsides covered in thyme and juniper to deserted beaches and coves.

There is a small harbour where we moor Nereida where there are a few restaurants, specialising, not surprisingly, in fresh fish.restaurant_trikeri

Our Sail and Shore holidays invariably pass via Trikeri, being, as it as at the mouth of the Pagasitic Gulf. There we stay in the fortified monastery, with spectacular views across the Pagasitic Gulf to the Pelion Peninsula. The rooms, simple-arched cells, give onto the first floor cloister, with its resident owl.

The monastery itself has a curious history. The Pelion itself has fortified mountain villages, which offered protection against the pirates for which this area was notorious. The island of Trikeri had no such protection, so the islanders built the hill-top monastery – a mini fortress which could be barricaded shut. The monastery was never occupied by monks, though, the islanders preferring to keep it to themselves. A few years ago, there was a move by the Orthodox church to re-populate – or rather, simply populate – the monastery but the islanders fought off  the ecclesiastical intrusion, insisting that the monastery was theirs and theirs alone! So, it remains a monk-free zone to this day, although it does have a resident priest and you can go to mass in the central church.

 

Trikeri Internment Camp

Women interned on TrikeriDuring the Greek civil war (1946-1949), Trikeri Island was used as an internment camp for woman suspected of communist sympathies. Some 5000 women were imprisoned here, many with children. The guards had proper accommodation, but the prisoners were housed in tents. Life here was very difficult. There was no proper sanitation and not enough water,  and there were outbreaks dysentery, typhus and tuberculosis.  Rations were allocated only to the official detainees – that is the adults – children were not counted in the official figures.

Many years after the end of the civil war, seven notes books – diaries of women detained in the camp – were discovered buried under an olive tree. they told not only of the terrible conditions within the camp but of the steps the women took to make life better for themselves, how they  educated the children, organised a choir and a theatre group. A wonderful testament to the strength of human spirit.

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