Ammoudia is a magnificent place of natural beauty, but it also has an important history. It is built at the estuary of the Acheron River, a river which the ancient Greeks believed lead to the Gates of the Underworld.
Myths of the Acheron River
The river is connected with many mythological stories, the most impressive of which is the story of Orpheus, the «father of the songs» according to Pindar and Eurydice. Τhe story says that Orpheus descended into the underworld and played such moving songs and sang so mournfully that Hades and Persephone agreed to allow his dead wife Eurydice to return with him to the upper world. But the agreement that accompanied the decision was that he had to walk in front of her and not look back until he reached the earth. In his anxiety he defaulted on the promise and Eurydice disappeared again from his gaze, leaving him desperate in his mourning.
On the northwest of the village once was built the ancient city of Elea, part of which was destroyed. You can see some ruins that exist until today. Archaeologists believe that they are the ruins of the defensive fortress or the acropolis.
Ruins of the Oracle
At Cape Himerio, at the northern edge of the bay of Ammoudia, there was the lighthouse (Fanari) which, in the antiquity, led the visitors to the Necromanteion (Oracle of the Dead People), located on the top of a hill near the modern village of Mesopotamos 3 km away from Ammoudia. The ancient Greeks visited the Oracle to take advice from the souls of their dead loved ones. In the Odyssey, Homer describes the area in detail when the famous Odysseus descended from this place to Hades. The first operation and construction of the Necromanteion dates back to Mycenaean times (1200 BC), but many of today’s ruins seem to be Hellenistic (323 BC).
Once a Great Port
On the opposite bank of Acheron River there are also the ruins of the ancient customs office. This proves that Ammoudia was a port of great commercial activity.