Experience an invigorating holiday
A breath away from Athens, the famous and distinguished classic spa resort Loutraki is the perfect starting point to explore the many charms of the Corinthian Gulf or go swimming in some of the loveliest beaches.
At the westernmost edge of Attica land near the coastal city of Corinth, where the sea waters of Saronic and Corinthian Gulf join together, the famous spa resort of Loutraki and its neighbouring Heraion(Vouliagmeni) lake, are found. The area is recommended for swimming, lunch, relaxing walks in piney rural lakesides and educational visits to ancient temples, or just detecting magnificent landscape vistas and sea-gazing spots, all in a one-day tour, at just one hour drive from Athens(90 km).
A glance at history
The ancient name of Loutraki was Thermae first recorded in the writings of the historian Xenophon (429 -355 BC) and known by then for its thermal
therapeutic spring waters. In 86 BC the Roman general Sulla came here to get a thermal treatment.
Lake Vouliagmeni (also known as Eschatiotis or Gorgopis in ancient times) was formed by land subsidence. Remains of Pre-Hellenic settlements (3000 BC) have been excavated in the area. Here was one of the great sanctuaries of the goddess Hera whose worship began during the Geometric Period. In 800 BC the first arched temple was built in her honor (the archeological site is open to visitors).
The nearby inland village of Perachora was built on the site of the ancient city of Peraion, a key post on the military road leading from Thebes to Peloponnese.
Walks in town
Loutraki is a thriving town, renowned for its thermal spas and its luxury casino. Many hotels, restaurants and cafés are lined along the quay getting very crowded during summer months. You can pay a visit to the Folk Arts Museum, where works and artifacts from the 19th century are displayed ( tel. + 30 27 440 66 600). On the new ring road you will look for the route which rises steeply on the Gerania Mountain ridge and leads to the monastery of Saint Patapios (6 km) where you can enjoy an incredible aerial view of both the Corinthian and the Saronic Gulfs.
The long-term exploitation of Loutraki’s mineral springs began in 1874 after the construction of a municipal Spa facility. In 1925 it was formally designated an International Hydroclimatological Therapeutic Center, the first one for lithiasis in the whole Eastern Mediterranean, being comparable to those of the famous springs of Vichy, Evian and Perrier. Nowadays Loutraki is a very well organised health resort with ultramodern hydrotherapy infrastructure. www.loutrakispa.gr
At the lake Heraion (Vouliagmeni)
Heraion lake is located 17 kilometers to the west of Loutraki. It is 1 km wide, 2 km long and has a maximum depth of approximetaly 40 meters while it opens on to the sea via a 6 meters wide artificial canal making it probably look like a lagoon. The area, although developing rapidly, still keeps the character and charm of its peaceful surroundings and local color. There are not a few people who choose to swim in its leeward waters and then enjoy a meal in one of the lakeside restaurants. After passing the Heraion archaeological site, a footpath leads to the old stone lighthouse (1887) which marks the Melagavi cape. The sunset here must be seen to be believed!
Loutraki: At the seafront of Loutraki lies a 3 kilometers long, sandy beach.
Agrilia Bay: On the way towards Heraion lake, Agrilia coastline is a series of small coves accessible by car.
Heraion Lake: At Lake Heraion(Vouliagmeni) there is a small sandy beach with shallow waters.
Ancient Heraion: In front of the archaeological site you will swim at the tiny beach with deep waters.
Milokopi – Skalosia: If you are looking for more peace and quiet try the northern shores of the Corinthian Gulf, and the secluded beaches of Lakka Zeza and Milokopi.
You can water-ski on the lake and take a sea kayak to explore the coastline of the Corinthian Gulf (www.arion-nc.gr ).
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Copyright photo & text : Germaine Alexakis/ Views Of Greece
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