“If you circumnavigate Maleas, forget your own people”, Strabo wrote, referring to the most legendary cape of Greece, standing huge and scary (in a 600 m precipice) as most sailors described and among three seas, the Aegean, the Cretan and the Myrtoan.
Sailors were so much inspired with awe and fear, that the very first reference about the lighthouse appears in the Odyssey by Homer (i 80-81), where Odysseus mentions that when he tried to sail around Cape Maleas, returning from Troy to Ithaca, he was off course, due to the power of the wind and the sea current that led him to Kithira instead of Ithaca.
The edge of the Epidaurus Limera peninsula is located on the southeast of the Peloponnese in the Laconian Gulf and, as far as its administration is concerned, it belongs to Monemvasia Municipality.
Cape Maleas has always been, from ancient years to this day, of great nodal and symbolic significance for commerce, since all ships changed their course at this point to sail from the West Mediterranean to Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Dardanelle, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Georgia, Armenia (and vice versa).
The circumnavigation of Cape Maleas has always been a “dangerous mission” for sailors and that is the reason why, one of its many names is “Wood eater”, due to the numerous ships it “swallowed” because of the wind-driven currents, as well as the wild winds that always prevail in the area.
Sailors have always tried to appease the elements of nature praying to the divine “presence” in the area.
As Pausanias mentions, two ancient monuments existed in the area of the windswept cape, one dedicated to Poseidon in the west (towards the Laconian gulf) and the other to Apollo in the east (towards the Myrtoan sea).
The intervention, however, that helped sailors more than any other was the construction of a lighthouse, which constituted a mark of orientation and a light of hope for those sailing the “deadly” cape, even if that seemed not to be enough sometimes.
The stone Lighthouse
The stone Lighthouse, which operated in 1883, was built in 1860.
It is 15m tall (40 above sea level) and is visible from a 40 mile distance.
It was one of the most important lighthouses in Greece and was characterized a protected monument in 2006.
In 2010, Aikaterini Laskaridis’ foundation in collaboration with the Navy and the Lighthouse service restored the monument, which is a gem, today that retains the prestige of the past while at the same time, it is the benchmark not only for sailors but also for the whole region in general.