The Ancient port of Kechries in Corinth

The ancient port of Kechries in Corinth (Kenchreai in ancient Greek) was one of the two important ports of the area in ancient Greece. Corinth was a powerful ancient Greek city-state, 90 km from Athens.

Kechries served the ships coming from the Saronic and the Aegean sea, the eastern part of Corinth whereas Lechaion port served the ships coming from the Corinthian Gulf, Ionian Sea, and Italy, the western side of Greece.

The ports were named after the sons, Lechis and Kechrias, of Poseidon, the god of the sea in Greek mythology.

Photo of Corinth Canal by NASA. Names of areas were added by Travel the Greek Way

Imagine how it must have been thousands of years ago, long before the Corinth canal (the Isthmus of Corinth) was excavated and engineered (the canal started working in 1893). The ships coming from the western part of Greece, through the Corinthian Gulf, would arrive in Lechaion port and unload their goods.

If the ancient ships wanted to go to the Saronic gulf their only option was to sail all around Peloponnese, a dangerous trip of many days as the south of Peloponnese has the hard-to-sail capes of Malea and Tainaron. There was a need for a much better plan than this.

Ancient Diolkos

Periandros (years of his reign 627–585 BCE) was a capable ruler of Ancient Corinth who turned the city into one of the richest and mightiest in the ancient world. His greatest project was the Diolkos, a brilliant 8-km-long paved construction whereupon the ships were towed on platforms by slaves from Kechries to Lechaion and vice versa.

The Temple of Apollo in Ancient Corinth
The Temple of Apollo in Ancient Corinth

Actually, the ending points of Diolkos were a bit further from the ports, in the areas of Posidonia and Schinounta, but it was close enough. All the ships had to pay tolls to Corinth to be pulled from one port to the other and as you can imagine, this was a substantial income for Corinth as the sea trade was very important for the ancient world.

Remains of the port of Kechries

This guide to the ancient port of Kechries in Corinth includes information about:

  • Where the location of Kechries is and how to get there
  • An interactive Google Map of Peloponnese
  • Short historical facts on Kechries throughout the centuries
  • Kechries in Bible and Apostle Paul
  • The remaining ruins of Kechries port and a short video of my visit to the site
  • Where best to stay near Kechries

Where is the Ancient Port of Kechries in Corinth?

The modern Kechries village right across from the ancient site

Kechries is located 82 km south of Athens, 8 km southeast of modern Corinth, and 4 km southwest of Isthmia. Other nearby villages are Loutra Oraias Elenis, Xylokeriza, and Kyras Vrysi. Around the port of Kechries, you will find today the small village of modern Kechries in a fertile natural environment, full of olives and fruit trees.

Google Map of Kechries

Peloponnese areas around Kechries

Get your interactive map of Kechries here, to drive to any of the places listed on our things to do in Kechries.

History of the Port of Kechries

Greece's History Timeline

It is not known when exactly the port of Kechries was constructed but historians have found traces of people living in the area from prehistoric times on a hill on its north side. It was probably already systematically inhabited during the Archaic era of the 7-6th century BC.

During the Classical Period (479-323 BC) Kechries port was used as Corinth’s naval station for its fleet as it was always busy with fighting at a war. **Corinth had taken Sparta’s side against Athens during the Peloponnesian Wars**.

Kechries ruins today

Kechries flourished during the Roman times and there is evidence of temples devoted to Aphrodite, Isis, Asklepios, Poseidon, Dionysos, and Panas. The famous geographist Stravon mentions in his many books that Kechries was the main port receiving visitors from Asia Minor.

Apostle Pau’s Second Missionary Journey – Photo: Explore Corinth

According to Acts 15:18, Apostle Paul left Greece using the port of Kechries during his second missionary journey end of 51 or early 52 AD. Apostle Paul had his hair cut to fulfill a vow, probably a Nazirite vow before leaving Corinth where he stayed for 18 months and wrote the Epistles to the Corinthians.

The port flourished again for the next 5 centuries and a multicultural community was thriving in the same area. During the 7th century CE, Kechries (after a plague that lasted for 50 years and several severe earthquakes) fell into decline.

During the middle Byzantine times (842-1204) Kechries was used as a trading port which continued during the Ottoman occupation, and until the early 20th century.

Suggested Reading on Peloponnese

Archaeological Site of Kechries Port

kechries port with people swimming

If you arrive at the port of Kechries during the summer, as I did, you will notice that in the north and south areas of the bay lie the remains of the port but the middle of the coast belongs…to the swimmers! 🙂

Parking area outside the site

When I arrived at the entrance – free and open to the public, at least for the time being – I realized that archaeologists and other technicians were busy with restoration works.

I had visited the site the year before as well and I was happily surprised to see that there has been a lot of restoration work done during this time.

Between 1962 and 1969, the American School of Classical Studies excavated several buildings that proved the commercial importance of Kechries. Today you can see the remains of structures that served the needs of the port, such as warehouses and shops. Most of the ruins are inside the water and there are ongoing works trying to make them more visible.

On the north side of the port of Kechries, after the public beach and you will find the ruins of a medieval castle called Burtzi, just like the one in Nafplion.

Remains of Burtzi

It was probably built during the 6th century BCE, there is some evidence that it may have had a lighthouse but Burtzi was undoubtedly a defensive position and an observation post. The foundations and part of the superstructure of the tower are reminiscent of the Examilian wall and the Early Byzantine fortification of Ancient Corinth, works of the same period.

I came across another group of archaeologists in the northern part of the ancient port of Kechries. They were uncovering a Sanctuary dedicated to Aphrodite and I was very happy to be at the sites and experience first-hand fieldwork. If you love archaeology, Greece is the total paradise for history buffs!

Roman Tombs – Photo: Archaeology Wiki

A bit to the north there is the Koutsongila ridge where archaeologists discovered an extensive Roman cemetery of the 1st century AD. It contains underground domed tombs some of which had rich frescoes and paintings.

The Ancient Port of Kechries in Corinth may be small, however, there are many things to do and see, and they are all easily accessible. On the plus side, nature is gorgeous with beautiful sea views and crystal clear inviting water.

The view from the Burtzi

Items from the excavations are stored in the Archaeological Museum of Isthmia, such as the beautiful and quite unique paintings and glass/ivory opera sectile, dating from the 4th century AD found in the sea.

Tips for Kechries Archaeological Site

Is Kechries Accessible?

No, it is not, at least for the time being.

Is there a WC inside the Kechries Site?

No, there is not.

Can I drink or eat inside Kechries?

You are not allowed to eat or drink inside any archaeological site in Greece, only water is allowed to carry around. There is no café/restaurant inside the site.

How to Get to Kechries

fortifications in Acrocorinth
Acrocorinth Walls

The easiest way to explore the many archaeological sites of Corinth is by far by private car. There are quite a few important historical sites, that you may want to visit, besides Kechries:

  • Isthmia Archaeological site
  • Corinth Canal
  • Diolkos
  • The Archaeological Site and Museum of Ancient Corinth
  • Acrocorinth
  • The Archaeological Site and Museum of Ancient Nemea (and have some wine tasting as well!)

There are public buses that you can get from Athens all the way to Corinth and then change to get a local bus that can take you to Kechries. The fast train proastiakos also gets you to Corinth and from there you can get a taxi or a local bus to Kechries.

Plan your Trip to Greece

Are you interested in a day or multi-day tour or a transfer anywhere in Greece? We can plan your trip and organize everything:

  • Book your private vehicle with an English-speaking driver
  • Arrange your accommodation, hotel, or apartment
  • Organize local thematic tours (food, wine-tasting, hiking, sailing)

Extras that you can purchase while booking:

  • Admission fees
  • Issue your ferry tickets
  • Professional Licensed guide (for the sites)
  • Lunch or dinner for each passenger

Does this sound like what you are looking for? Please send us your request here.

Where to Stay near Kechries

Beach near Loutra

I love the 4 km far village of Loutra Oraias Elenis (Baths of Helen of Troy). My sister goes there every year and stays for 2 months in an apartment. Mirella Studios €77, Booking Rate 9.7) is a well-equipped property with beautiful sea views and gardens. Nearby is a small beach with sunbeds and umbrellas. A real paradise!

Did you visit the Port of Kechries in Corinth?

Let me know what you think about visiting the Port of Kechries in the comments below, I’d love to hear whether I managed to get it onto your bucket list! Until next time, Evgenia!

Sources

  • Kastra EU
  • Parakato.gr
  • Wikipedia

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Hi! I am an Athens-based Greek obsessed with exploring Greece and bringing you the best travel experience ever!

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