A walk around Prokopi and St John the Russian

The church of Saint John the Russian in Prokopi, Evia

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.