Poros possesses one of the largest (though levelled) sanctuaries of the God Poseidon. It’s situated on one of the highest and most beautiful locations on Poros, surrounded by pine and olive trees. I would like you all to get to know this special place, even if you will never visit it. I therefore in the following months dedicate my fish recipes to Poseidon and his sanctuary on Poros, by accompanying the recipes with a related story. We start with Fried Anchovies!
In ancient Greek mythology Poseidon was one of the 12 Gods of Olympus, the God of the sea, and the protector of sailors and fishermen; master of the winds; the brother of Zeus and the son of Rhea and Cronus; He was also husband of Amfitriti, a Nereid. With his trident or three-pronged spear, he could manage all the waters, the seas, the rivers and the lakes of Earth. Poseidon could strike the ground with his trident to produce an earthquake. This earned him the nickname ‘Earth-shaker’.
Photo: John van Helvert
Poseidon had a chariot that was pulled by horses, which he loved. He assisted the Greeks in the Trojan war. His grudge against Odysseus is one of the themes in the book “Odyssey” by the Greek poet Homer. Beautiful statues are dedicated to Poseidon, and a lot of temples were built in his honour all around the Hellenistic area. This area was much bigger than that of Greece today.
Poseidon’s sanctuary on Poros
According to a myth the larger island of Poros (Kalavria) was offered to Apollo. As he was more interested in Delphi, he exchanged Poros for Delphi with fellow God Poseidon. A large and beautiful sanctuary and the surrounding buildings dedicated to Poseidon existed from the 7th century B.C. Some parts where probably used in much earlier times. The site has stunning views in the direction of Athens and looks down on a rather flat area called Foussa, that some say was used for sports games in ancient times.
Photo: Annette Spaan
The main temple was built in Doric style, though some of its columns were Ionian. It was a place of importance in ancient times, because it was the centre of the Amphictyonia of Kalavria. This was an alliance between multiple city-states: Athens, Aegina, Epidaurus, Hermione, Troizina, Nafplio and Orchomenos. There was a historic suicide at our Poseidon’s sanctuary in 322 B.C., that of the famous orator Demosthenes. He was fleeing from General Antipatros of Macedonia.
Visiting Poseidon’s sanctuary
Our sanctuary of Poseidon makes us proud of our past, but if you ask most people on Poros if it is worth a visit, they will probably tell you very honestly: well there are only a few stones left from the past’s glory. I think people feel that it is not as grand as the Parthenon or even as the Poseidon’s temple in Sounion (close to Athens). People perhaps also feel a bit of guilt. Our grandfathers did not protect the site from the people that came and took a lot of the remains to build houses and the Monastery of Virgin Mary of Zouvra on the island of Hydra.
Still, there are a lot of people on Poros, including me, who will passionately answer: Yes of course you have to visit the sanctuary of Poseidon! And even better, I will come with you to tell you everything I know! I am happy that like-minded people have formed the society that represents everything related to the preservation and promotion of our heritage: The Friends of the Archeological museum of Poros.
Photo: John van Helvert
Maybe by now you understand why Poseidon and his sanctuary are very special to me. The recipe for the fried anchovies that is dedicated to Poseidon is a recipe that I like very much. I have said it often and it is my strongest belief: The essence of Greek cooking is simplicity, local fresh produce and love for sharing. The “Fried anchovies” has all these wonderful ingredients. It’s so tasty and even tastier when eaten with friends and family.
I think it’s the epitome of Greek summer to eat fried anchovies at the seaside ouzeri or taverna, drinking and socialising with friends. And just so you know, this recipe can just as easily be made with sardines. Don’t forget to squeeze a lemon over the anchovies or sardines!
We felt very inspired by the old English tradition of wrapping their fried fish-and-chips in a newspaper, which would add some quirky style to the food presentation. However, nowadays this is not allowed anymore, because of the chemicals from the ink that can get into the food. So needless to say: Eat it this way if you dare!
Photography: Annette Spaan
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