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Lake Stymphalia

Lake Stymphalia: Belongs to European Natura 2000 network of protected areas and is an important wetland.

The ancient traveller and writer Pausanias also saw and described the sanctuary built by the Greeks at Stymphalos and dedicated to the goddess Artemis. He reported that the temple had carvings of the Stymphalian birds up near its roof. Standing behind the temple, he saw marble statues of maidens with the legs of birds.

‘The modern city contains none of these sanctuaries, but I found the following notable things. In the Stymphalian territory is a spring, from which the emperor Hadrian brought water to Corinth. In winter the spring makes a small lake in Stymphalus, and the river Stymphalus issues from the lake; in summer there is no lake, but the river comes straight from the spring. This river descends into a chasm in the earth, and reappearing once more in Argolis it changes its name, and is called Erasinus instead of Stymphalus.

There is a story current about the water of the Stymphalus, that at one time man-eating birds bred on it, which Heracles is said to have shot down. Peisander of Camira, however, says that Heracles did not kill the birds, but drove them away with the noise of rattles. The Arabian desert breeds among other wild creatures birds called Stymphalian, which are quite as savage against men as lions or leopards.

These fly against those who come to hunt them, wounding and killing them with their beaks. All armour of bronze or iron that men wear is pierced by the birds; but if they weave a garment of thick cork, the beaks of the Stymphalian birds are caught in the cork garment, just as the wings of small birds stick in bird-lime. These birds are of the size of a crane, and are like the ibis, but their beaks are more powerful, and not crooked like that of the ibis.

In Stymphalus there is also an old sanctuary of Stymphalian Artemis, the image being of wood, for the most part gilded. Near the roof of the temple have been carved, among other things, the Stymphalian birds. There are here also maidens of white marble, with the legs of birds, and they stand behind the temple.’

[Pausanias 8.22.3- .9]


Lake Stymphalia and Ancient Stymphalos drone footage

Aerial Clips of Lake Stymphalia and Ancient Stymphalos (Dec 2015, low water level)

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All images and clips copyright Eric CB Cauchi / Eternal Greece Ltd, unless otherwise stated.


All images and clips copyright Eric CB Cauchi / Eternal Greece Ltd, unless otherwise stated.

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