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Antikyra is located in Greece
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Country Greece
Administrative region Central Greece
Regional unit Boeotia
Municipality Distomo-Arachova-Antikyra
Population (2011)[1]
 • Municipal unit 1,537
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Vehicle registration ΒΙ

Antikyra or Anticyra (Greek: Αντίκυρα) is a port on the north coast of the Gulf of Corinth in modern Boeotia, Greece. It appeared in the Homeric Catalogue of Ships as the primary port of ancient Phocis. It was famed in antiquity for its black and white hellebore. Antikyra was destroyed and rebuilt during the 4th- and 3rd-century BC wars of Macedonia and Rome and following a 7th-century AD earthquake. During the 14th century, it was held by Catalan mercenaries. It now forms a unit of the unified municipality of Distomo-Arachova-Antikyra and is a center of Greek aluminum production. Its population in 2011 was 1,537.[citation needed]


Antikyra has been identified with the Kyparissos or Cyparissus (Κυπάρισσος, lit. "Cypress") which appears in the Homeric Catalogue of Ships as the primary port of ancient Phocis. It became known as Antikirrha or Anticirrha ( Ἀντίκιρρα)[2][3] from its position on the opposite side of a peninsula from Kirra, Delphi's port on the Gulf of Corinth. This name then became Antikyrrha or Anticyrrha (Ἀντίκυρρα)[4] and then Antikyra. The last was followed by the Romans, Latinized as Anticyra. During its period under the Catalans, it was known as Port de Arago. Under the Ottomans, it became known as Aspra Spitia (Άσπρα Σπίτια) for its white houses[5] but its former name was restored in the early 20th century. Under the former BGN/PCGN standard, it was romanized as Andikira in America and the United Kingdom until 1996.


Antikyra is situated on the Bay of Antikyra (Latin: Anticyranus Sinus) on the north coast of the Gulf of Corinth.[6] It lies 2 or 3 kilometers (1.2 or 1.9 mi) southwest of Paralia Distomou (also formerly known as "Aspra Spitia") and 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) southewast of Desfina. It is separated from Delphi by Mount Cirphis and from the Crissaean Gulf by the Opus peninsula (Latin: Opus Promontorium). The municipal unit also contains the villages of Agia Sotira and Agios Isidoros.



In antiquity, Antikyra was associated with the still-older settlement of Kyparissos which was noted as the primary port of Mycenaean Phocis in Homer's Iliad. The name literally means "cypress" but was glossed as deriving from the town's mythical founder Cyparissus, son of Orchomenus and brother of Minyas. The Catalogue of Ships states the Phocians who joined the Trojan War sailed from Kyparissos to join the main fleet at Aulis before it sailed for Troy.[7] The reputed graves of the heroes Schedios and Epistrophos, the Phocian admirals, were maintained through Roman times.

The name Antikyra was said to have derived from an "Antikyreos" or "Anticyreus" who cured Hercules's insanity with local hellebore.[8][9][10] Black and white hellebore were the main reason for the town's fame in the ancient world.[6] Both grew nearby and were regarded by Greek medicine as cures for forms of insanity, gout, and epilepsy.[11][12][13][14] The circumstance gave rise to a number of Greek and Latin expressions and to frequent allusions in Greek and Roman literature.[6]

Antikyra was destroyed in 346 BC by Philip II of Macedon amid the Third Sacred War.[15][16] It recovered enough to quickly begin construction of a temple to Artemis with a cult statue commissioned to Praxiteles by 330 BC.[17][18][19][20] Antikyra was then besieged, destroyed, and rebuilt several times during the Roman Republic's Macedonian Wars. In 198 BC, it was sacked by Titus Quinctius Flamininus, who choose it as winter base for his army.[21]

During the 2nd century BC, Antikyra struck autonomous bronze coins with the head of Poseidon on the obverse and Artemis bearing a torch and an arch on the reverse.[22]

Pausanias visited the city during the third quarter of the 2nd century and gave a detailed account of it in his Description of Greece. He notes the grave of Schedios and Epistrophos, a temple to Poseidon with a bronze idol in the "Lateran type",[clarification needed] two gymnasia (one including a statue of Xenodamos, who won the pangration at the Olympics in AD 67 owing to the participation of the emperor Nero), an agora with many bronze statues, a sheltered well, and two temples of Artemis outside the town walls. One was dedicated to Artemis Diktynna; the other held Praxiteles's sculpture and, according to a newly discovered inscription, was dedicated to Artemis Eileithyia.[23][24]


Under the Byzantines, the city served as a bishopric. (A large 5-nave basilica with a mosaic floor was unearthed in the 1980s.) A large earthquake destroyed most of the city around AD 620. During the 14th century, the city was named Port de Arago while its fortress was held by the Catalans, probably under the aegis of the county of Salona. It became known as Aspra Spitia[6] or Asprospitia[25] under the Turks.


Aspra Spitia's connection with the ancient Antikyra was established by William Martin Leake in 1806 when he found an inscription mentioning its name. The area was subsequently excavated by Lolling,[who?] Dittenberger,[who?] Fossey,[who?] the 10th Archaeological Ephorate,[clarification needed] and the 1st Byzantine Ephorate. During this period, an archaic temple of Athena was discovered, along with its Sever-style[clarification needed] bronze idol, a large part of the 4th-century BC ashlar fortification with 2 rectangular towers, and an early Christian bath with a hypocaust.[26]

The community became an independent municipality (including Desfina) in 1836, following Greek independence. In 1912, Aspra Spitia split into the two communities of Desfina and Antikyra. In the 1950s and '60s, Aluminum of Greece developed the country's largest aluminum plant to exploit nearby bauxite deposits.[27] A new town was developed for its workers under the name Aspra Spitia; this is now known as Paralia Distomou. Greenpeace has complained of the effects of the red mud dumped into the bay from the plant.[28] In 2010[29] or 2011,[30] Antikyra was merged with its neighbors to form Distomo-Arachova-Antikyra.


Year Town population Community population
1981 2,045 -
1991 2,271 -
2001 2,812 2,984
2011 1,448 1,537

See also



  1. "Απογραφή Πληθυσμού - Κατοικιών 2011. ΜΟΝΙΜΟΣ Πληθυσμός" (in Greek). Hellenic Statistical Authority.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Dicaearch.
  3. Strabo
  4. Eustath.
  5. Cramer (1828), p. 157.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 EB (1878).
  7. Homer, Il. II.519.
  8. Pausanias, Description of Greece, Χ.3.1, X.36.5.
  9. Ptolemy, Geography, ΙΙ.184.12.
  10. Stephen of Byzantium, "Antikyra".
  11. Theophrastus, H.P., ΙΧ 10.2-4.
  12. Dioscorides, De materia medica, IV.148-152, 162
  13. Pliny, N.H., XXV.48-52
  14. Hahnemann (1812).
  15. Diodorus Siculus, XVI.59-60.
  16. Pausanias, Description of Greece, Χ.3.1-3.
  17. Rizzo, G.-E. (1932), Prassitele, Milan, p. 13<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>. (Italian)
  18. Lacroix, L. (1949), Les reproductions de statues sur les monnaies grecques, Liége, pp. 309–310<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>. (French)
  19. Corso, A. (1988), Prassitele. Fonti Εpigrafiche e letterarie. Vita et opere, Vol. 1, Roma, pp. 182–184<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>. (Italian)
  20. Rolley, C. (1999), La Sculpture Grecque 2, La période classique, Paris, p. 244<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>. (French)
  21. Polybius, XVIII.28, 45.7, XXVII.14, 16.6.
  22. Sideris (2001), pp. 122-3.
  23. RE,[clarification needed] “Diktynna”, col. 584-588.
  24. Dasios, F. (1997), "Antikyra", ADelt, No. 52, p. 450<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  25. Arrowsmith, John. Turkey in Europe. 1832.
  26. Sideris 2001, pp. 114-120
  27. "Greece: Aluminum under Pressure", Time, 11 March 1966<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  28. Proposal for the Creation of a Marine Reserve in the Corinthian Bay (PDF), Greenpeace<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  29. EETAA local government changes
  30. Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)


External links