EXCURSION TO ACHERONTA-GLYKI
Excursion to Acheronta-Glyki
The Acheron flows through lush vegetation, reeds, huge plane trees, sea-pines, ferns, thick forests growing on its banks, small lakes and ponds forming along its course. And if this river could talk it would certainly have many, primordial, stories to tell…
Time stops short at Acheron, the river of sadness, the antechamber of the Underworld. In Greek mythology the river was closely linked to death as this is where Hermes used to carry the souls of the deceased across, to deliver them to Charon, the ferryman of Hades. In reality though Acheron is a source of life and regeneration as nature has bestowed upon it an abundance of rare vegetation.
As legend has it, there was an evil specter that lived in one of the springs near in Glyki; it used to poison the river-water making it deadly for the humans and animals of the area until Saint Donatos killed it exorcising the evil. The water immediately became sweet which is where the village Glyki (glykos in Greek means sweet) derives its name from. In the tiny, virgin village of Glyki you can enjoy a stroll through the plane forest on the river bank, visit the deserted Byzantine church that is today in ruins and cross the “Stairs of Tzavelena” –the path the villagers of Souli used during the Turkish occupation. It is a lovely itinerary and the view will reward even the most demanding visitor.
Apart from its legendary mythology, Acheron has a lot to offer its visitors regarding sporting activities. One can trek or ride a horse along the riverside, experience the excitement of rafting or kayak/canoe, a sport that, here, can be enjoyed equally by beginners as the difficulty level is such that no specialized knowledge is required. Finally, if you are feeling brave, you can swim in the river’s icy, but otherwise safe, waters.
Nekromanteion of Acheron (Oracle of the Dead)
The place where the dead began their descent to Hades, the Gates of the kingdom of Hades, were supposedly situated on the northwestern shore of Lake Acherousia, in the contemporary village of Mesotopos. Next to the lake, dry today, was the Ephyra Nekromanteion, the oracle of the dead. This dark, imposing, labyrinthine sanctuary was where the faithful came to commune with the souls of their dead. The first reference of the Acheron Nekromanteion is made by Homer in his Odyssey, when Circe advises Ulysses to descend to the underworld to meet Teiresias, the blind seer, in order to get an oracle about his return to Ithaca. Visitors from across the ancient world came to the sanctuary where, after a long preparation of body and spirit, they would communicate with the souls of their dearly departed who could predict the future. The acoustics of the subterranean chamber are of great interest as the reverberation of the echo is so fast that it would have caused psycho-acoustic phenomena and hallucinations that would have influenced the judgment of the faithful.
The sanctuary comprises corridors, various rooms, the central chamber and a crypt. The Monastery of Agios Ioannis Prodromos was also erected here at the beginning of the 18th century; the central church still stands.