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Strofadia Islands

STROFADES or Strofadia or Plotes.


Two small islands in the southern Ionian Sea, just 27 nautical miles WNW from the Peloponnese and 27 nautical miles south of Zakynthos. Their total area is approximately 2.6 sq. km . Stamfani is the largest island in the south with a length of approximately 1 km  Harpies is to the north and is the smaller island.

The Strofades are beautiful islands with lush vegetation and over more than 1000 species of migratory birds. For this reason it is part of the Marine Park of Zakynthos and has been described as a place to protect marine turtle Caretta caretta. Uncontrolled fishing and hunting in the islands have caused irreparable ecological damage to the fauna of the islands. The once abundant spring water decreased significantly during the earthquake of 1886. Of course there are wells with water.
In the past these islands were regarded as the most fertile in Greece because the soil is dark, almost black, well draining and rich. Today, apart from its rich natural vegetation covering the islands, there are still fruit trees (orange, lemon, fig vines) and there are more than 250 species of plants and flowers. On the islands there are many centenarians’ cedars, forming a dense forest. Geologically, the Strofades are like Zakynthos. The islands also hide paleontological wealth and because they never were united with mainland Greece or other islands, they are characterized as "Oceanic”

The ancient Greeks called the islands "Plotes” (Floating)  because they seem to float on the water. Greek mythology tells us about Strofades (the Turns)  in the legend of Argonauts. The winged sons of Boreas (North wind),  Zitis and Calais took part in the Argonauts campaign and chased the Harpies who ate the food of punished by Zeus seer Phineas. During the chase, one of them the Aello found refuge in the islands and the sons of Boreas turned over the islands to then turn them back over after they were not detected. Hence the name "Strofades= Islands of Turn)". Eventually the brothers victored and the Phineas revealed how to pass the Simpligades to the Argonauts.

In Stamfani is the castle with a wall of 25 meters dedicated to Our Lady of the "Joy of everything" and St. Dionysius. The monastery was built in 1241 by Empress Irene of Byzantium. From here began many eminent bishops of the church such as the Patriarch of Constantinople / Gregory E’  and St. Dennis, who grave now lies there. One of the historical relics is the flour mill which was turned by hand or donkey, a gift of Catherine II (The Great) of Russia. 


Today only one monk remains on the island, who takes care, the castle and land, sowing wheat and making bread, cheese and looking after a few sheep as best as he can. At the monastery’s high, there were many monks who were massacred periodically by Algerian pirate raids. The monks lived here in the summer by fish abundant as always there and in the winter by birds they salted in barrels.

A unique and ideal way to visit the islands is by boat. Messinia Sailing takes you to Strofadia in one of our multiday cruises to experience the peace and quiet of nature and to feel like Robinson on your own island. The gentle monk and guard of the park will welcome and gift us with what island produces.

Due to regulations of the Marine Park, in order to issue permission to enter the park, at least 1 month advanced booking is required.




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