Hydra - Glorious history and timeless magic
Hydra, this beautiful island of the Saronic Gulf, is a very popular destination for foreign tourists, but also Athenians, given its relatively short distance from the capital. In ancient times, the island was known as Hydrea (derived from the Greek word for "water"), a reference to the natural springs on the island.
Hydra has significant maritime history and tradition. Restored mansions, the old picturesque harbor with loopholes and cannons, museums, monasteries, the naval school, compose the image of the island, which testifies to its important historical significance. During the Greek revolution of 1821, Hydra, together with Spetses and Psara, played an important role, due to their great naval power. In the 19th century, the island was home to about 186 boats and 10.000 sailors. The mansions of the sea captains, that ring the harbor, are a testament to the prosperity that shipping brought to the island, which, at the time of the Greek Revolution, had 16.000 inhabitants.
Worth to visit
Museum of History and Archives
Established in 1918 and located near the Port Authority, on the east side of the harbor. The visitor of the Museum, moving in the atmosphere of the place, has the opportunity to revive in him the whole heroic past of Hydra. It hosts 18.000 documents from the early 18th to the early 19th century, 12.000 book titles, historical and literary, as well as dozens of exhibits that surprise, as the original Charter of Rigas Ferraios and the silver jar, holding the embalmed heart of the hero Andrea Miaoulis. Also exhibited are relics of the Balkan Wars and the First and Second World Wars, traditional Hydra costumes, figureheads and parts from the ships of the Struggle for Independence, great works of art of the 18th - 19th century, weapons belonging to fighters and sailors, magnificent marine engravings, nautical charts, as well as a magnificent Historic Gallery with works of great Greek and foreign painters.
Ecclesiastic and Byzantine Museum
The Museum is officially operating since 1999 and housed in the Church of Dormition (where the old prison used to be) of the middle of 17th century, that is considered one of the oldest monasteries in Hydra. It is a small Ecclesiastic and Byzantine Museum, in which are displayed canonicals, relics, oblations and icons from the 18th century. Among its beautiful exhibits one can admire the icon from 1774 of Virgin Mary "Unwithered Rose".
Manor of Lazarus Kountouriotis - Annex of the National Historic Museum
The Manor of Lazarus Kountouriotis is located above the harbor and is a typical example of traditional architecture of Hydra. Since the summer of 2001, the historic house has been open to the public and serves as a branch of the National Museum of History.
Displayed are family heirlooms, personal belongings, paintings and exhibits from the folk and historical collections, which belong to the National Museum of History. In the ground floor, the visitor can see various paintings from the artists Periklis and Konstantinos Byzantios. In the first floor, there are exhibits of old furniture, mirrors, portraits and family heirlooms of the Kountouriotis family.
Manor of George Kountouriotis - After-Byzantine Art Museum
The Manor of George Kountouriotis is located to the west side of the harbor, among pine trees. In 1991 the three stories tall Manor was bought from the Ministry of Culture and then started operating as a Museum. Inside there are exhibits of family heirlooms and also exhibits from the newest history of Hydra.
"Miaoulia", the biggest event on the island
This festival takes place at the end of June and includes activities related to the heroic achievements of Andreas Miaoulis, such as folk dances, boat races and sporting events. On the last day, the festival ends with fireworks and a representation of the burning of the Turkish flagship.
National Merchant Marine Academy
The Hydra's Merchant Marine Academy is today a living historical-naval monument and a tangible expression of our naval continuity, with a history dating back to 1800!
The most suggested walk in the picturesque alleys of Hydra, reveals busts of admirals, bastions with cannons in every part of the city, that proudly show its long naval history in the Aegean, as well as the places where heroes of the Greek independence lived, such as Miaoulis and Kountouriotis. There are about 30 mansions of the 18th century and 300 captain's houses on the island. The mansions of Pavlos and Lazaros Kountouriotis, Tombazis, Tsamados, Kriezis, Bulgaris and Boudouris stand out... Some of them have been turned into museums, others were bought by private owners and few are preserved by the descendants of the old families. However, it is worth visiting the 6 Monasteries and the 300 Churches of the island.
Did you know that?
By law, cars and motorcycles are not allowed. Horses, mules, donkeys and water taxis provide public transportation.
The island is a popular yachting destination.
Famous cosmopolitan personalities have been present in the island over the years: Onassis, Callas, Rex Harrison, Peter Austinov, Eric Clapton, Sophia Loren, Rowling Stones; Hydra often attracts celebrities from all around the world!
For the strong ones and sports lovers, events such as the Hydra’s trail Event and the Eros mountain Trail route, from the highest mountain on the island, are very fascinating!
How to go
Distance from Nafplio to the ferry (Ermioni port): 77,2 km (70 minutes)
Road: Medium (provincial)
Tolls: No Tolls
Estimated Time: Almost 2 hours to the island
From Nafplio, you take the general direction to Kranidi - Ermioni. Initially, taking from Nafplio the Asklipiou Avenue, you follow the road to Ancient Epidaurus. After the town of Ligourio, following the signs to Kranidi, you reach the left turn to the provincial road to Ermioni. Arriving there, you can take a ferry boat, boats and sea taxis, to reach Hydra island (with flying dolphins you arrive in 20 minutes and with a flying cat in 25 minutes). There are boats from morning till night.
For information click here
During the summer period, you can take the boat from Tolo and follow a one-day cruise to Hydra and Spetses. You can see timetables and tickets here.
Source: Wikipedia, www.hydra.gr