It does not matter in which season you decide to visit Galaxidi… the beautiful landscape and the moments in the taverns, in the cafés and in the hostels will accompany you. The colors, the light, the sea, the scents, all contribute to a magical, almost erotic atmosphere. When you walk through the streets of the old town, all your senses seem to wake up, while a nostalgic feel is everywhere present. Your gaze wanders through the magnificent mansions, and the elaborate balconies, the stone-made alleys and the fragrances of jasmine and evening primrose make you travel back in time.
Galaxidi, a well-known tourist destination for all seasons, is a base for nearby tours and thanks to its history, naval tradition and architectural heritage is always exciting for its visitors It lives with the sea and thanks to the sea. However, this place is not ideal only for swimming and summer holidays.
Going down towards the bay of Itea, the famous Parnassus mount, the white pyramid of Ghiona and the mountains of Lidoriki rise majestically above the Corinthian Gulf, looking like paintings in the clear atmosphere. After a short but pleasant drive along the coastline, the visitor arrives at the town of Galaxidi, nesting in the arms of the Corinthian Gulf.
This nautical town, with its tradition of seamanship, is one of the few places that managed –as by miracle- to escape the building fury that struck almost the whole Greek countryside at the end of the19th century. Its glorious marine past may have passed, but it has not been forgotten, as a century later, the town still preserves its nobility untouched.
The houses, simple and cheerful, with hipped, tiled roofs are typical samples of the architecture of Central Greece. Their interiors are richly decorated with antique carved furniture, elaborate silverware and hand-made woven fabrics brought here by sailors from the ports of the whole Europe. Today, besides the 19th-century magnificent mansions that adorn the city, walking through the whitewashed cobbled streets is one of the visitors’ greatest pleasures. You can go up from Oianthi Coast (the waterfront of the harbor) to the Museum Street, stroll through the cobblestoned K. Sathas street with the magnificent church of Agios Nikolaos, visible from the entire city and from the sea, while nearby there is the church of Agia Paraskevi (17th century) with the solar calendar engraved on its floor.
After strolling through the whitewashed neighborhoods, you can continue your walk up to the second small harbor, Xirolakas, following the coastal road. Walk up to the old shipyard and gaze over the panorama of the town on the blue background of the Corinthian Gulf with its small islands. The two harbors communicate with each other, through several narrow streets which climb up the hill between them.
In the very heart of the town, near Manousaki Square you will find the neoclassical building (built in 1880) which housed for years the Girls' School - known to the locals as "Girls’ Elementary School" - and which in 1992 was officially listed. In the neighborhood of Koukounas the old impressive building is the old school that was built in the years of Kapodistrias and operated until 1932 as an elementary school.
The famous shipyards and years of prosperity
In the early 18th century, taking advantage of its privileged geographical location, Galaxidi, started developing shipping. The flourishing of such activities was also favored by Ali Pasha, -for his personal reasons-, as he intended to create his own fleet. Together with Hydra, Spetses and Psara, the ships of Galaxidi with their experienced crews easily turned into war frigates and offered as much as they could to the Revolution of 1821.
Obviously, Galaxidi, as it was not an island such as Spetses and Hydra, became easily a target for the Turks who occupied it and burned it twice. The first time was in 1821 when the conquerors -despite the strong resistance of the chieftain Panourgias- invaded the town and the second was by Kioutachis, in May 1825, just before the siege of Messolonghi.
Following the Greek Independence, the naval town struggled to regain lost ground. Ship builders worked without pause and the sailboats began travelling in the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and even the Atlantic Ocean carrying goods.
Prosperity came soon. In the mid-19th century, the ship-owners of Galaxidi already owned big shipping offices in all the big European ports of the era, such as Odessa, Trieste, Marseilles, Nice, Livorno. In the 1870s their sailing ships were famous and Galaxidi became the second most important shipping hub of Greece, after Syros.
Its merchant fleet consisted of more than 350 vessels, while about 20 ships were manufactured each year in its shipyards. However, at the threshold of the 20th century, things changed dramatically. Steamships took the baton and slowly displaced the traditional ones. The Industrial Revolution changed forever the world and its sweeping wave hit the proud ships of Galaxidi.
The stubborn ship-owners refused to surrender, admit the changing of the times and abandon their traditional sailing boats that had been their faithful companions. They, their fathers, theirs grandfather and their great grandfathers had sailed the seas with them for centuries … The truth is that the people of Galaxidi never adapted to the new steam technology. Probably, some of them did not want, while some others did not have the time to do so…
The countdown had already begun. The ships of Galaxidi stubbornly fought an unfair fight. But the sails, the wood and the passion of the old sailors did not withstand the competition. The boilers and propellers banished the masts and the rigs and the opening of the Isthmus Corinth delivered the final blow. Decline was inevitable. This wonderful nautical city which was rebuilf in the years of King Otto and which today adorns the coastline of the Corinthian Gulf , is what is left of those days of glory.
Remembrances of the nautical and historical heritage of Galaxidi are wonderfully presented in the halls of the Maritime Museum.
The Maritime and Historical Museum
The Archaeological and the Maritime Museum are housed in the same building. The archaeological collection of the Maritime & Historical Museum of Galaxidi presents in a single hall its history, from the 3rd millennium BC, until the early Byzantine times. The archaeological collection, though small, starts from the ancient years and prepares the visitor for the age of prosperity of the nautical city, a prosperity presented in the halls of its Maritime and Historical museum. After all, the sea is the element that shaped and still shapes the destiny of Galaxidi
The idea of the creation of this Maritime Museum belongs to the doctor Efthimios Vlamis, descendant of a local naval family, for years mayor of Galaxidi in the beginning of the 20th century. In fact, in 1928 he began collecting the first objects. This effort was completed in the long run with the personal help of both the various mayors and the locals, who donated their family, nautical heirlooms.
Items related to shipping, pieces of boat equipment, as well as the exhibition "Naval Art Gallery" consisting of the very interesting collection of old paintings presenting different types of sailing ships of the time, are part of the contents of the Museum. Among them, the visitor can see special nautical instruments, deck calendars, tools, masts, registers, nautical maps, sextants, as well as a collection of paintings by the folk painter Petrantzas. Some of the most impressive items are the carved wooden figureheads hanging on the bow of the ships, usually shaped as a woman or a mermaid. They were considered the charm of each vessel and according to tradition they protected it from the wild seas and brought wealth to the crew.
The Maritime and Historical Museum is housed in a building built in 1868-1870.
The harbor of Xirolakas
The ancient Haleon or Haleion, built in the 5th century BC at the place where the coastal town of our days is situated, was the first organized harbor in the area and it was protected by strong walls. As the years went by, it became the most important city of West Locris after Amfissa.
There are still remains of the ancient wall, some of which form part of the foundations of some mansions.
The Monastery of Christ the Savior
Climbing to the Monastery of Christ the Savior: after 5 km, a narrow, uphill road starting from the harbor will take you to the Monastery of Christ the Savior at a height of 300 meters, with the wonderful view of the Corinthian Gulf. The church is very old and it was probably erected at the base of an early Christian one. Today’s church was built in 1250 by Michael II Angelos Komninos, Despot of Epirus. It is single-aisle, cross-vaulted one, with rectangular view. In 1750, a male monastery was constructed here, which was later destroyed by an earthquake. Here, among the ruins of the monastery, the manuscript "Chronicle of Galaxidi" of the 18th century was found.
The Church of Agios Nicholaos
A symbol of Galaxidi, this -constructed in 1902- church, is built on the highest point and is visible from the whole city. It is of Byzantine style and has two bell towers and a dome. Its solid wood-carved templon- with engraved scenes from the Old and the New Testament, was created by the famous Anastasios Moschos and it is divided into 12 sections, separated in the middle by the Great Gate. The Church attracts thousands of visitors every year.