It is tiny and no one lives there, but the island of Eros found a way to honour the ancient god of love, unsurprisingly also named Eros, by becoming a destination for those who dream of getting married at an idyllic location next to turquoise waters.
The island, with a shape that is said to resemble a heart (if you look at it from above), is located in the Saronic Gulf, opposite the western part of Poros, and has a sandy beach and a pine forest.
The area is 45-minutes away from the town of Poros, although it can also be reached by from Neorio.
The special name of the bay, Russian Naval Station, is due to the time when the so-called “Orlovika”, a squadron of the Russian fleet which sailed there in 1770 under Alexis Orlov with the aim of inciting the Greeks to revolt against the Ottoman Empire.
At this site, the Orlov Admiralty was set up, including warehouses, a bakery and kitchen, and ancillary buildings.
In fact, the Russians kept the property even after the founding of the Greek state (1830), maintaining a salaried guard until 1900 when they finally agreed to transfer ownership of the site.
For more than a century, the islet opposite the bay of the Russian Naval Station was known – both locally and officially – as Daskalio.
The name reflects a rumour from the Ottoman occupation that there was a secret school connected with the small church of Agia Anna.
However, there is not the slightest historical presumption for such a thing.
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Thus, because the same name is found on many islets throughout Greece, it is most likely due to a corruption of the Italian word “scoglio , with which the Venetians marked the presence of reefs and islets on the maps.
However, another story that survives in local folklore should not be rejected.
Before the 1821 Greek Revolution, a nun named Francesca lived there and taught weaving to the girls of the area. Later, at some point in the 19th century, the chapel was built which the locals know as “Panagitsa”.
It is dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.
The name Eros prevailed over the last twenty years, when it was officially used by the National Tourism Organisation under the government of Costas Simitis (2002) in an advertising campaign targeting foreigners.
This is also due to the fact that it began to be used for weddings – and later baptisms – by both Greeks and international visitors to the area.
In recent years, the islet’s reputation has grown significantly.
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It is worth noting that Daskalio had lived days of fame even before the advertising campaign, as in 1960, the director Roviros Manthoulis took part of the shooting in the comedy “The Lady Mayor”, starring Georgia Vassiliadou, on the islet.
In addition, another peculiarity has to do with its property status: the church of Panagitsa may operate through the parish of Agios Konstantinos & Eleni to which it belongs.
However, territory of the islet belongs to Lisa Vanderpool, the widow of former president Miltiadis Evert.
Today the island can be visited only by boat, either after consultation with your hotel, or starting from the port of Poros – the cost is 3 euros per person.
If you decide to have your wedding there or to have a baptism, it is recommended to arrange with an organiser of such events in Poros, as they have all the relevant experience and will take care of the transportation of your guests to and from Eros.
Hari Simvoulidi is a correspondent for Travel.