Gliati: The beach in Argolis where you swim above an Ancient Roman ruin

Swimming over a sunken state is one of the top experiences you can have around ancient Epidaurus. Photo: Shutterstock

Ancient Epidaurus in Argolis is a place that needs no special introduction, as it has a bright, international aura that has proven very strong over the decades, after all, we are not just talking about one of the leading archaeological sites in Greece, but also about a place that managed to become a destination precisely because it kept alive its ancient identity, remaining an active theatre that hosts a number of distinguished performances.

Alongside all this, of course, Ancient Epidaurus offers the residents of Athens an easy, nearby excursion to the beauties of the Argolis. Thus, several of the surrounding experiences have been highlighted by the travel reports of recent years – the visit to the Holy Monastery of Agnountos, for example, or the dolmades and moussaka at the legendary “Mouries ” – but without this having exhausted what you can see or do by coming here.

One of the most unique experiences that await you in the vicinity of Ancient Epidaurus, but remains unknown to many, is the opportunity to bathe above a sunken state - swimming in calm, blue waters, which will allow you to see the impressive underwater spectacle even with a simple long-boat.

Gliati Beach Argolis
Photo: Pericles Merakos.

Gliati and its sunken state

Although many of those who have reached this coast are used to calling it the "Sunken State of Ancient Epidaurus" (so you will even search for it on Google Maps), the actual name of the beach is Gliati or otherwise Kalymnios - the first is more common.

Coming here you will find a coast of about 500 metres, with sand, fine pebbles and clear, blue waters, which are usually calm and deepen smoothly.

The only thing you need to be aware of is the frequent presence of sea urchins: to avoid encounters with them, it is therefore recommended to use beach shoes when entering and exiting.

Furthermore, Gliati is an unorganised beach, so don't expect infrastructure. You should bring an umbrella, mat, cold water and anything else you deem necessary.

Gliati Beach Argolis
Photo: Pericles Merakos

However, it's definitely worth making sure you bring a mask (preferably with a snorkel) so you can enjoy the sight of the sunken state in all its glory while swimming. Submerged, of course, in a depth of only 2 metres, it is easily visible even with a long foot (as we said before).

However, it is best to explore it with a mask, as this will reveal all the details that make it look like an Atlantis on the shores of the Argolis.

Although you will see mention of Mycenaean remains that are many thousands of years old, the sunken "politia" in particular is an extensive rural mansion from the Roman era, which in its heyday must have housed a large number of people and many goods - this is shown by the many voluminous jars, which are still visible in our own days.

The ruins were discovered underwater thanks to a hot air balloon flight (1971) and declared an archaeological site in 1998.

However, to date, no detailed, official excavation has been carried out, although as of 2017 we are on the way, thanks to in the collaboration of the Maritime Antiquities Tax Office with the Italian School of Archeology, which will draw on the experience of the sunken city of Baiae in Naples.

Gliati Beach Argolis
Photo: Shutterstock.

How do you get here?

The relatively unexplored nature of Gliati Beach is partly due to the fact that access is not considered the easiest: there are roads, but in practice they prove quite confusing according to several visitors to the area.

A valuable tip, then, is to ask the locals when you get to Ancient Epidaurus and not just look at the signs – if you have a GPS, everything becomes easier.

In any case, you are in the north-eastern part of Argolis, which "sees" the Saronic Gulf. Therefore, starting from ancient Epidaurus you should head south, passing Cape Kleftis and reaching the bay of Agios Vlassios – not to be confused with Spilia beach, where there are also sunken buildings.

The distance is not long, as you are about 2 kilometres from Gialassi, where the largest of the beaches of old Epidaurus is located: it is the closest known location to Gliati.

Gliati Beach Argolis
Photo: Pericles Merakos

Arriving in Gliati, however, you will realise that the area is anything but lacking in rudimentary tourist development, even if the beach is unorganised.

You will therefore find rental apartments for those who wish to stay a few days here, as well as the "Athina" tavern, in a nice location on the sand, with good food.

Hari Symvoulidi is a contributor to Travel