Perachora: The Land Beyond


The Heraion of Perachora (Greek: Ηραίον)

In 1929, young British archaeologist Humfry Payne was convinced that there was something special about Perachora, though nobody took him seriously. Humfry started digging for pot shards and ancient walls, but what he found was a miracle. Temples, alters, roads, watch towers, a beautiful system for water storage; reveled themselves to the Mediterranean sunlight for the first time in thousands of years.

Three more seasons of digging and he discovered thousands of precious gifts offered to the Goddess Hera: statues of animals, birds, mythical creatures, jewelery, scarabs, ivory, terracotta figurines, and painted pottery. Every night, these finds were taken by ship for a summer’s night sail to Piraeus- the port of Athens, and then taken to the National Museum were they were cleaned, sorted, and mended.

Humfry died tragically from staphylococcus after a minor surgery; he was only 34 years old. His wife, Dilys Powell, a famous British film critic, beautifully recalls the excavation and her fondness of the locals in her book “An Affair of the Heart”.

Today, Perachora is a quiet site, as few tourist are aware of its existence. But now and then the wondering traveler will journey out of the  tourist traps of Athens and stumble upon this gem and find him or herself reflecting on antiquity in peaceful solitude among cliffs, pine forest and sea while imagining oracles, torch light, and ancient ships docking at port.

For me, every time I step foot on Perachora I can’t help but to let my imagination spin a hundred possible tales for each excavated ruin.

I imagine ancient sailors, Hera’s priestesses, the smoke from incense swirling in the wind.

And I wonder why was Hera worshiped here, when this should have been Poseidon’s realm?

There is a sense of something so magical, almost familiar, that pulls at my heart and makes me wish there was a way to step thru the fabric of time and see, touch, smell, experience  Perachora in all her reconstructed ancient glory.



4 Responses to “Perachora: The Land Beyond

  • Hello Mellissa!
    The theme Perachora is interesting.
    But where is exactly the location of this Land on the map?
    And how old are the ruins of Perachora and Heraion?Thank you.
    Kind regards
    Walter Machate

  • I had the good fortune to do a little consulting in Greece back in fall 1992. This was at the start of the Athens metro project and the City of Athens and several Greek archaeologists associated with the national government. At the time, we were one of the few archaeologists actively using GIS for archaeological data management and we were asked by a local businessman to hold a series of seminars on use of GIS. I spent two weeks in Greece, always telling myself that I would return. Unfortunately, circumstances worked against that plan. I got a chance to visit a few of the islands in the Saronic Gulf, visited the lands around the Gulf of Corinth, and spent several lazy days on the Argolid based in Nafplion. I never heard about Perachora, yet looking at the location of this place on various maps I see I drove right past it. Two weeks in hardly enough time to spend in any one region of Greece. I was fortunate in deciding to see the southern part of the countryside instead of staying in Athens. Athens certainly has its moments but the real attraction of Greece is the country beyond Athens. It’s been 19 years but if I close my eyes I can hear the bells on the sheep as they passed below my window in small Delphi hotel as they wandered south along a path in the fog. A few years later, I watched a program on Delphi and damn if they didn’t show the same path bells and all. I could have spent a couple of months in Delphi and been quite content.

    • Roger, it’s great that you were able to get out of Athens and see more of the authentic beauty of Greece! The Peloponnese area is a living-dream during Springtime. Funny you should mention Delphi as I am currently writing about it. Delphi is certainly one of the most breathtaking parts of Greece.

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