For most drivers a stop at Prokopi is essential in order to venerate the relics of Saint John the Russian and light a candle in the central churc that bears his name. A few more might stay for a coffee or drink at the local cafes, or have some lunch or do some shopping both of religious items and local products. Such as honey, nuts or sweets.
Yet, the peacful village has its own history behind and a few traces of its past to discover., should one decide to spend more time or the night at the local pilgrim’s guesthouse. And of course, if one came to Prokopi with own car there are quite a few places to enjoy in the area, or even a swim at the beach of Pili or Mandoudi.
The village of Prokopi used to be a small settlement of workers and farmers that would work for the Ottoman landowner, Ahmet Ağa, who posessed a vast area of 18.210 hecatres and gave his name to the village. When the Turks gradually evacuated the Greek mainland, his property was sold in 1832 to Edward Noel, a relative of Lord Byron. At the time when Euboea had not yet been liberated with the rest of Greece at independence, he was invited by Count Kapodistrias, the first governor of Greece, to buy the estate on Euboea in order to encourage the Turks to leave the island. Encouraged by Lady Byron, his mentor and sponsor, his original plan was to start an agricultural school.
In 1924 Cappadocian refugees from Asia Minor were settled in Ahmetaga. They came from Prokopi / Ürgüp and brought with them as precious treasure the relic of Saint John the Russian, a pious Russian slave from the Russian-Turkish war of 1710 who lead a holy life in captivity.
Land was given to the newcomers to build new houses. Soon the new name, Prokopi, prevailed over the old Turkish name. Practically, the two neighborhoods of the village are the old one, on the slope around the Noel mansion and the new one, of the refugees on flat lands.
Tallinna Kunstikool (The Tallinn Art School) at Thermopylae. After a visit to the Leonidas monument, the hot mineral springs that gave their name to the site (Thermo Pylae = Hot Gates) were challenging for a quick swim.
Ayofarango (Agiofaraggo) is named after the holy ascetics who were dwelling in the caves of the gorge that leads from the Monastery of Hodegetria to the Libyan Sea. The cave-dwellers would come on Sundays and the main feasts to St Anthony, the main church of the canyon.
Exploring Avocado plantations at Ancient Lappa, next to the village of Argyroupoli in Crete. Not accessible by tourist bus it was a great opportunity to walk an ancient Roman trail in order to get there.
The Davelis Cave is located on Mount Penteli, situated northeast of Athens. Its highest point is the peak Pyrgari, with an elevation of 1,109 m (3,638 ft). The cave’s name comes from the widely held belief that an infamous 19th century brigand called Davelis used the cave as a hideout and that he hid his treasure inside it.
In 1909, at the initiative of Queen Sofia, reforestations were organized to “afforest Attica”. Among the planted areas was what is now called the Syggrou Park in Ilisia which covers a surface of 15 hectares in the heart of Athens . In 1929, the Forestry Office of the Ministry of Agriculture was established within the small woodland. For a long time the site had been occupied by military huts. In 1948, the new building of the Institute of Forests was constructed and expanded in 1972.
One of the projects we arranged was for the Estonian Folk Art and Craft Union to various locations in the Peloponnese and Athens. The theme was getting acquainted with local artisans and folk and traditional crafts. We chose Leonidio which is one of those areas where tradition is preserved due to its geographical isolation.