The southern region of mainland
Greece is the Peloponnese and one of the prefectures
of the Peloponnese is Argolis (or Argolida).
On the southern coast of Argolis, just opposite the
island of Spetses, is the village of Porto Heli.
Porto Heli is about 175km from Athens by road.
The ruins of the ancient city of Halieis are on the south side of the bay, opposite the
modern day village of Porto Heli. Some of the ruins (both
on land and in the sea) are still visible.
The city of Halieis was
enclosed by a wall with at least 5 gates and was large enough to
have independent territorial rights and mint their own coins.
The streets were laid out in a well organized grid, each house
with their own courtyard and well and there were communal baths
(visible in the shallows on a calm day). The inhabitants were
fishermen and farmers in the main and the reasons for the
decline/abandonment of the city are still not known today.
Findings include decorated pottery, coins, remains of roof tiles,
terracotta figurines and metal objects.
Most of the excavation work was
done during the 1960's and 1970's for the American School of
Classical Studies in Athens by the Department of Classical
Studies and the University Museum of the University of
Pennsylvania and by the Department of Classics of Indiana
As interest in the area grew
and the diggings tailed off, more independent travelers began to
discover Porto Heli. Hotels were built in the area, more
bars, tavernas and shops and the boom was on. During the 1980's Porto Heli became a very popular package holiday
destination which, in turn, led to people falling in love with
the place (as I did) and buying summer homes in the area but it
still retains much of its small fishing village charm. This is
why Porto Heli is ideal for both quiet breaks or activity
The modern name of 'Porto
Heli' - also known as 'Porto Cheli' - translates (roughly)
to 'The Bay of Eels' which was the mainstay of the fishing
industry here some years ago. The fishermen here continue to go
about their business and farming is the other main industry in
the area. Argolis is well known for the quality of the
wine grapes and the exceptionally low acidity of the olives (therefore
olive oil) produced in the region.
Isabelle J Backhouse