COUNTY: Corinthia



500 - 1,000


Low Shrubs, Herbaceous Wildflowers, Brushwoods




Hiking, Trekking, Climbing

The mountain Fokas is in Corinthia region, between the three plains of Vocha, Kleones and Nemea. Its defining characteristic is the trapezoid shape of its peak, and its highest peak stands at 873 metres. Standing on that peak, one can see all the mountains of Peloponnese and mainland Greece, from the gulf of Corinthia to the Argosaronic gulf.

The mountain was named Fokas or Foukas because of its strange peak; it resembles a smokestack which is colloquially called foka in Greek. Another explanation is that it was named after the Byzantine family of Fokades. In antiquity, it was known as Apesas, named after the hero Apesas who was king of the area. In other written sources, it is mentioned as Selinountio mountain, since goddess Selene (Selini, meaning Moon) left there the Lion of Nemea; others name it Ofeltio from Ofeltis, who was the son of the king of Nemea, Lykourgos.

The mountain, as already pointed out, has a strong presence in mythology and historical tradition. In a Greek version of the Flood Myth, Deucalion’s boat stopped on Fokas mountain, and the son of Prometheus established an altar to Afesios Zeus on its top. Pausanias, on the other hand, writes of Perseus who offered sacrifice on the mountain to Apesantios Zeus. Archaeological research verifies the myths to an extent, since scientists have found remains of a large ash altar to Apesantios Zeus and a number of offerings from the Geometric Period (which begins in 1100 BC) up to the fourth century BC; these include ceramic offerings, as per the customs of the era. The altar to Apesantios Zeus is also depicted on a coin of the people of Kleones, and the term Apesas (from Apesantios Zeus) is depicted as a rock with an ash altar, on which stands an eagle, symbol of Zeus.

The mountain’s strategic position lead to the erection of a medieval fortress for effective control of the area and aiding in transportation and communication. The fortress is mentioned in the catalogue of the Principality of Morea of 1377, and now it is declared as a listed building. On the east side of its plateau, the ruins of the wall can still be found, as well as ruins of homesteads.

On the south rocky slope of Foukas mountain, west of the plateau, is a cavernous church. The church is carved on the rock, dedicated to the Zoodochos Pigi (Life-giving Spring), built in 700 AD. The ecclesiastical complex is also a listed building.

Fires of recent years have significantly damaged both fauna and flora that lived and fed on the mountain.