Galaxidi
Airview of Galaxidi, Phocis, Greece (Image credit: C messier, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Galaxidi a glorious “island” on land

Maritime history, captains' mansions, a living tribute to Greek seamanship

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Situated on the northern coast of the Gulf of Corinth in Central Greece, little Galaxidi, a picturesque coastal town with an island-like nature, is a perfect mainland destination for an idyllic holiday. In fact, until 1963, when the road joining Itea to Nafpaktos was completed, Galaxidi was connected mainly by sea routes, so it truly had an island atmosphere.

Once one of Greece’s busiest and wealthiest ports and shipyards and home to some of the country’s most important shipping families, the town renowned for its fleet, which played an important role in the Greek War of Independence of 1821, retains all the prestige of its naval history.

Beautiful neoclassical houses, colourful facades, kapetanospita (meaning captain’s houses) charming narrow cobblestone streets, two natural harbors (Agora and Chirolakas), maritime-themed statues, the Nautical and Historical Museum (the first of its kind in Greece), small tavernas offering freshly-caught seafood meze varieties by the sea and hospitable hotels, all await you.

Galaxidi is also known for its annual “flour war” (alevromoutzouromata). On Clean Monday, a day that marks the end of the carnival season in Greece, people of all ages covered with coveralls, masks, scarves and hats, descend the narrow streets of the town, throwing colored flour at each other along the coastal road lining Galaxidi’s old harbor. The colorful feast  is accompanied by music and dancing.

(Galaxidi, Image credit: Dana Tentis on Pixabay)

Things to do while you are here

Tour the ports

Start with a stroll along the main harbour, Agora, where small fishing boats and yachts are tied up. Agora is lined with restaurants, bars, and stores. Then visit, Chirolakas named after the seamen widows (“chires”), Galaxidi’s older harbor and a major shipbuilding centre during the 19th century, a prosperous era. However, when steam replaced sails at the beginning of the 20th century, the sailing ships of Galaxidi stopped crossing the Mediterranean. Yet, despite the hard times it experienced as a result, it managed to retain its character, and in 1978, Galaxidi was classified as a protected heritage site.

Neoclassical mansions on Galaxidi’s waterfront (Image credit: G Da Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)

Marvel at prominent religious spots

The Church of Aghios Nikolaos, the patron saint of sailors, boasts an exquisite wood-sculptured altarpiece, two bell towers and an imposing dome. The Church of Aghia Paraskevi, features something rare for a Christian temple: the zodiac circle drawn on its marble floor of 1911. The sun clock in its yard is another highlight.

(The Girls’ School, one of the best preserved old buildings (Image credit: C messier –CC BY-SA 4.0)

Enjoy scenic walks

Opposite the first port and offering a stunning panoramic view of the town and the nearby sea, the pine-strewn Pera Panta it is definitely worth a visit.  It reaches all the way to the statue of “Galaxidiotissa” depicting a sailor’s wife waving a handkerchief towards the sea while embracing her children.

Galaxidi mansion (Image credit: αΝώΔυΝος (Νίκος Δημ. Νικολαΐδης) – Έ Attribution)

Explore the museums

Nautical and Historical Museum: Offers a huge selection of all sorts of exhibits on the impressive maritime activity in the town, including models of ships and boats, tools used by fishermen and seamen, paintings of Greek sailing boats and historical documents. 

The archaeological collection of the Museum presents the town’s history from the 3rd millennium B.C. all the way to the early Byzantine times, providing fascinating insights into the local culture.

Hit the beach

Agios Vasileios beach, Galaxidi (Credit: Georgios Tsiupanis on Google Maps)

The town’s beaches are in sheltered bays. There also more beaches in nearby settlement. Here are some suggestions:

Beach Yacht Club of Galaxidi: A small beach, next to the port of Galaxidi. Kendri Beach: Popular among the locals. Anemokampi:  Hidden in a sheltered bay with golden sand. Kalafatis: Fully organised. Vidavi (Agioi Pantes): Crystal, clear, blue waters. Profitis Ilias: Long, sandy and cosmopolitan. Ammouda: Very small, sandy and almost private. Agios Vasileios: beautiful and isolated. Beaches of Voidakas: White pebbles and crystal clear waters.

Other assets of this little town? It is located only 3 hours by car from Athens and its proximity to the unique archaeological site of Delphoi. Considered by the ancient Greeks as the centre of the world Delphoi was home to the ‘Oracle’ who ancient Greeks would go to for guidance.