Villa Efelli

Golden Coast

Acheron Site and Acheron River
The historic Acheron site and Nekromanteion – the oracle of the dead, important locations in Ancient Greece, are located about 10 km from the house, near the village of Ammoudia,. at the delta of the river Acheron. According to Homer, Acheron River was at the edge of the “flat” world and it was the entrance to the Underworld, the world of the dead.

The literal meaning of the world Acheron is the “river or woe”. According to the Greek mythology, it is at this very site where ferryman Charon transported on his boat the dead shades (souls) into their final resting place in Hades, or the Underworld. The fee for the service was a single silver coin, obolos. Those who could not afford the fee were left to wonder the earth as ghosts.

Odysseys himself crossed at this location into Hades to meet the blind oracle Tiresia for advice on how to return to Ithaca. At the same place he meets the shades of his mother, of King Agamemnon, and of his fallen comrades. He also meets Achilles who praises him for his many powers and achievements while Odysseys famously replies “ he would rather be an alive slave than a king of all the dead in Hades”. This basic philosophy distinguishes the Ancient Greek religion and its concept of the Upper World, the world we live in, as opposed to many religions that followed that put an emphasis on preparing the humans for the next life. Nowadays, it is interesting to travel up the river with a boat from the village of Ammoudia. Another point of interest is the springs of the river located near the village of Gliki. Someone can hike along the riverbanks from the delta to the springs, where he can rest under the old maple trees and enjoy a local coffee or a traditional meal in the tavernas on the riverbank.

The most famous oracle of the dead of the ancient Greek world lies near the shores of the Acherousian Lake, where Acheron and Kokytos, the rivers of Hades, meet. On a hillside, behind the village Messopotamo, protected by cyclopean walls and an inner circuit of polygonal masonry, dark passageways lead to the mouth of an underground cavern which was believed to be the entrance of the realm of Hades and Persephone. Ancients were coming here to consult the souls of the dead who, on leaving their bodies, acquired knowledge of the future. By means of rites, sacrifices, initiatory and purification practices they were coming into visual and verbal contact with the dead.

The Nekromanteion belonged to the ancient Bronze Age city of Ephyra. The oracle was directly related to the topography of the area: the stagnant waters of the Acherousian lake the three rivers, Acheron, Kokytus, Pyriphlegethon, the caves on the hill which could be considered as access points to the Underworld, the noises from the subsoil which gave a living sensation of some presence from underground, the fresh water springs in the bay of Ammoudia near at hand. In the early eighteenth century the convent of Saint Ioannis Prodromos and its cemetery were established over the ancient ruins. Today’s tourists can enjoy the descent into the cold musty crypt and use their imagination to conjure up ghosts of old.

(Distance from the house:10 klm.)