Corinth, first inhabited by Sisyphus; the Isthmus, the point where the sea brought forth the body of Melicertes on the back of a dolphin, and whom the residents of the area worshipped as a god and honoured by establishing the Isthmian Games; Sikyona, on the banks of the Asopos River, the home of the Titans; Nemea, home to Zeus’s vineyards; Stymfalia, connected to the famous Labours of Heracles; Feneos, Eurostini and Mount Kylllini, these are all some of the places within the Regional Unit of Corinth which create a multitude of transitions from myth into history, and from the present to the past.
The Prefecture of Corinth was a place of conflict, conquest and reprisal between the Byzantines, Franks and Turks. The land that gave birth to one of the Seven Sages of Antiquity, the tyrant Periander, the Isthmian and Nemean Games (the first seeds of theatre and tragedy), alternated between desolation and great prosperity, even overshadowing Athens in ancient times.
With two hearts, Corinth and Loutraki, but three semi-urban centres — Kiato (22 km northwest of Corinth), Xylokastro (south of the Corinthian Gulf) and Aghioi Theodoroi — the Regional Unit of Corinth has a mild climate and is considered the most accessible of all the Regional Units in the Administrative Region of the Peloponnese, as it has three marinas, in Corinth, Kiato and Xylokastro.
The real gateway to the Regional Unit of Corinth is the Municipality of Aghioi Theodoroi – Loutraki. There, Mount Geraneia rises, immovable and imposing above the town, with torrents carving out channels down its sides. Combining both mountain and sea harmoniously, the municipality attracts both Greek and foreign visitors, and is the ideal place for short getaways from Athens.
The Corinthian Canal, the Isthmus, is today one of the most famous canals in Greece, and is traversed by 15 000 ships every year. Passing through Isthmia and the Museum of Isthmia, with its wealth of finds, gives us pause to remember the ancient worship of the gods of the sea, with the ruins of the temple of Poseidon and Melicertes Palaemon.
Corinth, the capital of the Regional Unit of Corinth, seat of the municipality of the same name, is the second largest city in the Administrative Region of the Peloponnese, and the largest in the Regional Unit, with almost 55 000 residents. It is around 85 kilometres from Athens and is a satellite of the capital. During ancient times, it was the second most important naval power. The first inhabitants of the city chose the site in order to control both the land routes as well as the maritime routes, thanks to the isthmus. Its two wealthy ports — Lechaio, on the Corinthian Gulf and Kechries on the Saronic Gulf — made it a great centre for trade. The new city was built on the bay of the Corinthian Gulf in 1858, after the old city had been destroyed by an earthquake. It is located in the shadow of Acrocorinth, the oldest castle in the Peloponnese. One of the oldest landmarks is the metropolitan church of Paul the Apostle. With a stroll to one of the road-side cafés on Eleftherios Venizelos Square (also known as Flisvo), or in the picturesque small fishing harbour, down to the seafront with its cafés and ouzeries, the city provides the visitor with all the choices of a true Mediterranean metropolis.
A few kilometres to the south of the modern city of Corinth is ancient Corinth, the ultimate passage into antiquity. Within the deep green, intoxicating landscape of ancient Corinth and near the foot of Acrocorinth, are the archaeological museum — which houses some of the exceptionally impressive mosaics that have been discovered in the area — the Sanctuary of Apollo and the stone-built Lechaia Street. Ideal for a visit, especially in spring, is the outlying areas of the Municipality of Corinth, with its small, picturesque villages. The north part of the Regional Unit consists of a series of beaches, interspersed with fertile plains of citruses, grapes and olives.
On the way to the second largest urban centre in the Prefecture of Corinth, built at the foot of Mount Geraneia, which is the seat of the Municipality of Aghioi Theodoroi-Loutraki, and about 4 kilometres from Corinth, the visitor goes through the cosmopolitan area of Loutraki, which has about 20 000 permanent residents. Officially recognised as a spa town since 1925, the once ancient city of Thermes, a favourite city of the gods, under the protection of Artemis Thermia, with its thermal springs, luxury casino and wonderful beaches, is today regarded as one of the most popular areas in the Regional Unit.
From there, the travellergoes through Perachora to one of the most beautiful lagoons in Greek territory —Lake Vouliagmeni, and beyond that, to Melagkavi — the location of one of the largest lighthouses of the Corinthian Gulf – on Cape Heraio, with its magical sunsets.
South of Corinth, the visitor crosses the foothills of Mount Skaroumbalo. Athikia, with its red roofs, the beautiful Voukina Gorge, Chilomodi, with a wonderful virgin forest ecosystem — all that remains of the largest and most ancient forest in the region— are all treasures of the area. Leaving the village of Klenia and heading toward the ancient city of Tegea, where Oedipus was raised, and from there, to the large village of Aghionorios, the visitor will be constantly delighted.
Next to the Saronic Gulf, east Corinth is a perfect starting point for trips through areas of pine, small peninsulas and idyllic sheltered bays. An important landmark here is the harbour of Kechries, one of the most famous harbours of the ancient world. Twenty-two kilometres west of Corinth is the town of Kiato, the second largest urban centre in the Unit, and the seat of the Municipality of Sikyona.
Within the borders of the Municipality of Xylokastro-Eurostini, one can visit Stymfalia. Spreading over the plateau located to the north east is a unique oak forest, the famous Moungosto. Zireia is the second highest mountain in the Peloponnese. The area to the south is cooled by Lake Stymfalia, while the west is defined by the Feneos Valley . The Municipality of Velo-Vocha, an exquisite blend of colours between the blue of the sea and the green of its fertile land, includes Vrachati, Vochaiko, Bolati, Evangelistria, Zevgolatio, which is its seat, Velo, Nerantza, Kokkoni and other small, picturesque villages.
The passage to the Municipality of Nemea, the home of the Fliasos wine, the most sought-after wine for the symposia of ancient times, is accomplished over a fertile plain where wine-making has a tradition stretching back thousands of years, and today has a VQPRD designation, for the Agiorgitiko variety. Ancient Nemea, the birthplace of the Pan-Hellenic games that took its name, as well the wonderful reminder of those ancient games, brought back to life in modern times every four years in the ‘Nemeada’, attracts the interest of the visitor.
The temple of Zeus and the Mycenaean graveyard at Aidonia, together with the archaeological site and the Museum of Ancient Nemea, are the most significant attractions here.
Xylokastro is on the southern coast of the Corinthian Gulf. Its impressive tourist facilities and many important events make Xylokastro especially attractive for tourists. It is marked by the rare diversity offered by the landscape, alternating between mountainous, semi-mountainous and picturesque coastal villages, traditional churches and monasteries, forests and charming beaches. The Trikalachoria boost the interest of tourists, as do the settlements of Sykia, the birthplace of the poet Kostas Karyotakis and source of inspiration for the poet Angelos Sikelianos.
Stymfalia and its villages provide a passage into myth, every season of the year The Stymphalian Birds and Heracles provide the background for a tour of the only mountainous aquatic state in the Peloponnese, with its ancient city and acropolis, the Oligyrtos mountain range and Mount Kyllini, where winged Hermes was born.
The Feneos plateau and artificial Lake Doxa have given the area the nickname ‘Corinthian Switzerland’. In the area of Eurostini and Sarantapicho, there is one of the richest and rarest habitats in Corinth, which provides shelter for the last of the Peloponnesian wolves.