Galaxidi (Haleion)

Scholars identify Haleion, the ancient city of western Locris, with modern Galaxidi. The area has been inhabited since the prehistoric period, with important archaeological finds dated to the Early Helladic Period (Anemokambi, Pelekaris, Kefalari, islet Apsifia). A significant Mycenaean settlement has been located at the site Villa; a fortified Geometric settlement has also been discovered on the hill of St. Athanasios (ca. 700 B.C.).

In the Archaic and Classical period (7th-4th centuries) the religious and administrative centre of the city developed at the present-day site of Agios Vlasis. The site of modern Galaxidi was inhabited in ca. 300 B.C. and the fortification walls were constructed under the auspices of the Aetolian League slightly later.

Haleion continued to be inhabited and flourished until the 2nd century A.D. From that period onwards there is no significant mention of the city until the 10th century, when it was devastated by the Bulgarians (981 A.D.).

In the medieval period, Haleion came under the rule of the Villeheardouins of Patras and of the Knights of St. John. In 1446 Galaxidi came under Ottoman rule. However, Ottoman officers dwelled in the city only for a very brief period. Throughout most of the Ottoman period the sole inhabitants were Orthodox Christians.

The city flourished due to the development of maritime trade in the 18th century. The commercial exchanges with the west, particularly for trading the agricultural products of Corinthia and the Corinthian gulf region necessitated the construction of a local commercial fleet, hence harboured in the exquisite natural port of Galaxidi. Particularly After the treaty of Küçük Kaynarca (1774), many of the ship owners of Galaxidi started operating under Russian flag. Despite their privileged position, the inhabitants joined forces right away with the revolutionaries of the Greek War for Independence and their city was destroyed twice by the Ottoman army, namely in 1821 and in 1825-6. It recovered, however, and in the course of the 19th century it thrived as a commercial and maritime centre, a fact attested also by the spacious and luxurious houses still extant nowadays.

In the Monastery of Soter, on a hill just outside the city, Constantine Sathas discovered in 1864 the renowned “Chronicle of Galaxeidi”, written in 1703 by the monk Euthymios; it is the only literary source for the history of Phocis from the medieval period to the year of its composition.

Text-Translation: Dr. Aphrodite Kamara, Historian