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Τα ηλειακά λιμάνια Κυλλήνης και Φειάς και ο ρόλος τους στους Ολυμπιακούς Αγώνες της Αρχαιότητας


Continental roads and sea routes were used by Greeks throughout antiquity for their transportation towards and from the sacred state of Elis for the participation to the Olympic Games, the greatest festival in honor of Zeus. Escorting the official delegation and the athletes of their city, great number of pilgrims from all around the Hellenic world, carrying among their luggage valuable offerings and goods, were reaching the Olympic land with ships. The two ports of Kyllini and Pheia were the gates that they had to pass, moments before they experience the prodigious panhellenic event. Kyllini served as the port of Koile Elis and its capital. As reported by Pausanias, the convenient and sheltered bay of Kyllini, reinforced by piers, offered protection to ships from the southwesterly winds. This natural advantage explains why vessels moored at this site continuously, from antiquity to contemporary era. Pheia or Phea in today’s Gulf of Agios Andreas was the seaport of the region of Pisa almost coinciding with its northern borders with Koile Elis. When Elis subjugated Pisa and other cities, the port of Pheia became the second most important port of the ancient state, after Kyllini. Despite the hazards described in the literary sources, such as the sinking of the ship carrying the official delegation of Syracuse at the fourth century BC during the return trip from Olympia, the sea voyage was preferable. The same applies today for the large waves of tourists reaching Olympia after disembarking huge cruise ships at the port of Katakolo, very close to ancient Pheia.

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