Heraion of Perachora
(& the Vouliagmeni Lake)
The Heraion of Perachora (Ηραίο Περαχώρας) is a sanctuary of the goddess Hera situated in a small cove of the Corinthian gulf at the end of the Perachora peninsula, about 100km west of Athens (about 1.5 hours drive). It is located north of Loutraki, which is an excellent choice to stay overnight if you want to visit also other places in the area. Corinth is just 15km away.
From Loutraki, one has to use his transportation, as no public bus is going there. Follow the Loutraki-Limni Vouliagmenis provincial road and follow the signs to "Ηραίον" and/or "Λίμνη Βουλιαγμένης". First, you see the lake. Leave it behind, and after 1km, you will find the archeological site parking lot.
The distance from Athens to Heraion is about 100km. The map on the right shows how to approach the lake and the archaeological site (red track), as well as some detours (yellow tracks), around Vouliagmeni lake.
The sanctuary was probably under the control of Corinth as it faced the harbors of that powerful city across the Gulf of Corinth. Historians believe the people of nearby Megara established it, but the Corinthians soon conquered it. In addition to the temple of Hera Akraia, the remains of several other structures have also been found, including the temple of Hera Limnaia, an L-shaped stoa, a large cistern, dining rooms, and a second potential temple. Cult activity at the site continued from perhaps the 9th century BC to 146 BC, when the Roman general Mummius destroyed the ancient city of Corinth during the war with the Achaean League, bringing all of Greece under Roman control. In the Roman period, domestic structures were built on the site, indicating that the area was no longer a sanctuary.
According to a legend by Euripides in his tragedy called “Medea”, Medea buried her murdered children at the sanctuary of Hera Akraia as she fled from Corinth. That sanctuary most probably is the Heraion of Perachora.
The archeological site is above a small cove with turquoise waters where one can swim. The small beach is partly sandy and partly covered with small pebbles. There is also a tiny jetty here, where small boats can dock. The whole area is of exceptional natural beauty.
The little cove inside the archeological site.
The crystal clear waters of the little cove.
The archaeological site is very well maintained, and a paved path leads visitors from the parking lot down to the cove. The little chapel of Agios Ioannis, located inside the archeological site, has its doors open to visitors and a shady patio to protect them from the harsh Greek sun.
There is no food or water available around here, so bring your own bottle of water.
The entrance to the archeological site is free of charge.
The little chapel of Agios Ioannis, located inside the archeological site.
Inside the chapel of Agios Ioannis.
The archeological site can be divided by an imaginary line to the upper site (on the hillside) and the lower site (by the sea). The chapel of Agios Ioannis is located between the two.
Map of the archaeological site: 1. West court 2. Roman house 3. Apsidal structure 4. Temple of Hera Akraia 5. Altar 6. L-shaped stoa 7. Apsidal cistern 8. Dining rooms 9. Water channels 10. Sacred pool 11. Temple of Hera Limanaia 12. Walls 13. Modern jetty 14. Modern chapel 15. Modern footpath
There’s no chance the visitor to Heraion not include in his itinerary the nearby Vouliagmeni Lake (lagoon) and have lunch in one of the many taverns or swim and sunbathe on its sandy shores. A road around the lake and a tiny canal at its west part connect it with the Gulf of Corinth and the open sea.
At Cape Melagkavi stands an imposing lighthouse above the archeological site. The Melagkavi lighthouse, built in 1897, is operated by the Greek Navy and is easily accessible via a path that starts above the archeological site. From the lighthouse site (the building itself is not accessible to the public), one has great views all over the Gulf of Corinth.
The chapel of Agios Nikolaos stands at the rocky hill, overlooking the archeological site from the east. The chapel is accessible via a path opposite the Fountain of Hera. The Fountain of Hera is located outside the archeological site, on the road leading to it from Vouliagmeni Lake (500m before arriving at the parking lot, on your right hand).