Skala Eressos July 2007
Skala Eressos July 2007

I took this photo of this dig in Skala Eressos in 2007. It has been filled in since, any items of interest jotted down and filed away along with millions of other archaeological documentation this country forever throws up. But these remains of tiny stone houses and winding side streets are the reason why hundreds of women gather in Skala Eressos every September.

When you visit Skala Eressos, you are walking about four feet above the city of ancient Eressos. It was an important place. Alexander the Great stopped off here to re-provision his fleet before heading on to conquer Persia. Eressos exported excellent wine all over the ancient world. The city’s other claim to fame was as the birthplace of Sappho the poetess, so lauded in her own time, and beyond, she was known as the Tenth Muse.

Times change, and eventually the city fell away, replaced by the rural village of Eressos on the slopes of the volcanic hills farther inland, and the fishing port, the skala, became Skala Eressos.

Sappho with wax tablets and stylus. (Roman fresco of about 50, from Pompeii - Discovered in 1760)
Sappho with wax tablets and stylus. (Roman fresco of about 50, from Pompeii – Discovered in 1760)

In the sixties, lesbian women began to travel to the birthplace of Sappho, their own personal mecca, and found a sleepy little fishing village with two tavernas and little else.

Other people—writers, poets, and painters—discovered this idyll too. Chagall spent a summer creating his wonderful Daphnis and Chloé series here. There is also an international centre for Osho-san Buddhism. The Eressos valley is a place that feeds the spirit and gently draws out the creativity in us all.

Nowadays there are numerous summer events, but in September we hold the Women’s Festival. Those pioneering women of the sixties would heartily applaud.

Information on the Women’s Festival can be found here: www.womensfestival.eu

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