Eretria is a coastal town of Evia, southeast of Chalkida,
opposite the northern coast of Attica, in the Southern Gulf of Evia.
In antiquity it was one of the most important city-states of the
Greek world (6th-5th century BC). Later, however, it ceased to be
considered an important settlement and was gradually deserted. In
recent years, after the destruction of Psara (June 1824), a town was
founded on the site of the ancient city, initially called Nea Psara,
but then continued to be called Eretria.
It has a population of 4,166 inhabitants, according to the 2011 census. With the settlement of Gerontas (4 inhabitants) and the villages of Magoula (1,063 inhabitants) and Malakonta (1,097 inhabitants) constitute the Municipal Community of Eretria, with a total population of 6,330 inhabitants. The municipality of Eretria of the Kapodistrias program was a municipality of the prefecture of Evia until 2010. After 2011, it remained with the same name, but merged with the Municipality of Amarynthia in the new Municipality of Eretria, according to the Kallikratis Program.
Eretria is located in central Evia, 21 kilometers
southeast of Chalkida, on the southern Gulf of Evia. It is located
at the western end of a small plain, in which the town of Amarynthos
is also located. The plain is bordered by Mount Voudohi to the west,
Mount Olympus to the east, and the sea to the south. North of the
port of Eretria is the ancient citadel, a limestone hill 123 meters
Near the port of Eretria are two small islands, Pezonisi or "Island of Dreams", which is connected to the mainland by a bridge and the Holy Trinity.
The first signs of human activity in the area appear during the Neolithic period (3500-3000 BC), but it is not clear if there was an organized settlement at that time. The first confirmed organized settlement is placed in the period 3000-2000 BC. During the Late Bronze Age (1600-1100 BC) the settlement shrank and during the Geometric period it was completely occupied.
The city of the classical era was founded around the 9th century BC, probably as far as the port of Lefkandi, 15 km west. The name of the city comes from: ἐρέτης (= rower). Although Strabo notes that the previous name of Eretria was Arotria. Lefkandi was set on fire in 825 BC, which enabled Eretria to develop into a local power.
The first reference to Eretria is made by Homer in the Iliad, which appears in the list of ships campaigning against Troy (Trojan War). In the 8th BC. century, Eretria and neighboring Chalkida, were the most prosperous cities of Evia. Eretria controlled Andros, Tinos and Kea in the Cyclades. He also owned part of the opposite coast of Boeotia. The Eretrians also established colonies in Southern Italy together with the Chalcidians: the Monkeys and Kymi.
But at the end of the 8th century BC. Eretria and Chalkida clashed with each other, a confrontation that lasted several decades. The historian Thucydides gives details of this controversy that became known as the Lilantian War, from the name of a small plain near Eretria. The Eretrians were eventually defeated and lost many of their possessions.
Eretria continued the colonization of areas in the northern Aegean Sea, Italy and Sicily.
In 499 BC. with the Ionian Revolution, they supported together with Athens the cities of Ionia in their revolt against the Persians. After the failure of the revolution, the Persian king Darius I, wanting to avenge this action, besieged and destroyed the city during the Persian campaign of Datius and Artaphernes in 490 BC. During the destruction of the city, its temples were not respected either, even the majestic temple of Apollo was destroyed.
Eretria was rebuilt and took part in the Battle of Plataea with 600 hoplites (479 BC). In the 5th century BC. was part of the First Athenian Alliance. In 446 BC. but withdrew from the alliance, but eventually returned. During the Peloponnesian War the Eretrians were allies of the Athenians against the Spartans. In 411 BC. The so-called battle of Eretria took place in the region, between Athenians and Spartans, after the battle all the cities of Evia revolted against the Athenian yoke.
After the victory of Sparta, in 404 BC, Athens gradually recovered and re-established a hegemonic role in the region of Evia, which was rich in grain. The Eretrians revolted again in 349 BC. In 343 BC. Philip II of Macedonia had the city under his control, but in 341 BC. the Athenian general Demosthenes subdued it.
After the Battle of Chaeronia (338 BC), where Philip defeated the allied army of Athenians and Thebans, it marked the final end of Eretria as an important city-state. The city still existed as a small provincial town. In 198 BC. was looted by the Romans and in 87 BC. it was destroyed during the Mithridatic Wars and eventually deserted.
The modern town was founded in 1824, after the outbreak of the
Greek Revolution and the destruction of Psara in June 1824, when
survivors from Psara came to the area, who named it Nea Psara. At
the Third National Assembly (1826-1827) the Psarians asked with
delay to determine the place of their refugee settlement. Having
secured in practice the space of their permanent settlement in
Aegina, they were not pressured, like others. The government (under
Bavarian rule) responded to the request of the refugees in 1836.
Earlier, state interventions had been made for the creation of a
Psarian settlement in Eretria, but they did not give more reason for
disagreements over the location and distribution of the plots. The
whole coastal area of Eretria was given for construction and the
municipality of Psariana was given the right to freely manage the
national land of the settlement. The design of the city was
undertaken by the architects Stamatis Cleanthis and Edward Saubert
in 1834. The name was used extensively in the 19th century (the
constituency and the deputies were called "Neon Psara"), but then
the name Eretria prevailed.
Today it is a tourist seaside resort. The excavations carried out from the 19th century by the competent archeological services, brought to light a multitude of valuable findings from ancient times.
Eretria today is an important ferry port with the port of Oropos (Attica), and is connected by road with Chalkida and south with Aliveri. As a seaside town it has taverns and many places of entertainment and fun. There are four small islands in the area, Kolokythi, the Island of Dreams, Agia Triada and Aspronisi. The archeological site is located at the northern end of the modern city, from where many remarkable findings are exhibited in the archaeological museum of the city.