Zarax / Limin Ieraka
The small village of Limin Ieraka (‘Port of Ierakas’) lies at the end of an extensive fjord-like inlet, unique in Greece, on the eastern coast of Laconia. It has an excellent harbour. According to the ancient traveller and geographer Pausanias, the town was built by and named after the Lacedaemonian hero Zarax in the 13th century BC.
Limin Ieraka is a delightful destination for a same-day excursion from Monemvasia, as it offers beautiful nature, access to the ancient site of Zarax on the hilltop above it and excellent food at the local tavernas.
In antiquity, like Prasiae and some other places on this part of the coast of Laconia, Zarax passed into the hands of the Argives during the time of the Macedonian supremacy; and this was apparently the reason why it was destroyed by Cleonymus. From this disaster it never recovered. Augustus made it one of the Eleuthero-Laconian towns.
The archaeological site of Zarax, situated on a hill above the present village of Limin Ieraka, has archaic / classical wall remnants which were possibly re-used in the Middle Ages, as well as the ruins of several churches. The temple of Apollo, which is mentioned by Pausanias has not yet been located; From the ramparts of Zarax, it is the north side which is still in relatively good condition. The acropolis was separately fortified. In 1462 Zarax was subjugated by the invading Ottoman Turks who ruled it for the next 400 years, with the exception of some periods when it came under Venetian rule. The Venetians built walls around the port and barred its entrance with chains, leading to the name Porto Cadenas.
All images copyright Eric CB Cauchi / Eternal Greece Ltd, unless otherwise stated.