The existence of Galaxidi dates since 1393 BC. In the 3rd century B.C. Galaxidi became a nautical center and made alliances with other cities. Old texts found in Galaxidi talk about the nautical city with the marine history and heritage of the passion for the sea which until today remains a characteristic of all people of Galaxidi. Rigas Fereos‘ charta (map) in 1797 presents the name of Oianthi and Pentayi for today’s Galaxidi.
The historian Constantine Sathas of Galaxidi,studied and presented a lot of information about the history of Galaxidi from the prechristian times until the 6th century A.D. In a cosmography book of a foreign writer many important cities are mentioned like Athens,Piraeus, Elefsis,Nafpaktosand Oianthi. In the middle of the 6th century A.D. the city was destroyed from an earthquake and from attacks of barbarian troops.It then changed its name and when it was rebuilt, due to the economic development of its inhabitants,it was named Galaxidi.
The most probable origins of the name Galaxidi are the following: It may come from a plant (Galaxida) or from a Byzantine local ruler whose name was Galaxidi. But the origin which seems more appropriate is that it comes from the word Galaxavra, daughter of Oceanus-king of the seas- whose name means the place of worship of the seas.
From the 6th to the 9th centuries A.D. Galaxidi grew to become a famous nautical and urban center with a chair of the archibishop as shown in a list of the Byzantine emperor Leon the Wise. The monk Efthymios writes that during the invasion of the Bulgarians in 981-996 A.D. Galaxidi was a growing city. This is also evident from manuscripts which are saved from the monastery of the Saviour Christ built by Michael Komnenos.
In 1660,Galaxidi was destroyed during an attack of pirates and the remaining inhabitants found refuge in the west side where they built their settlement and two churches: that of Panayia (Virgin Mary) called “Kleftopanayia” and that of the Prophet Elia.This settlement was called Palaio-Galaxidi (Palaio=old) because of the old materials used to build it.They stayed there for 13 years and according to local witnesses Saint John (Prodromus) revealed and advised them to go back to their original site by the sea to rebiuld their city.This is what they did and named their city Pentayi (Five Saints) because of the five churches they built.The name stayed until the 17th century,when it changed back to Galaxidi.
The people of Galaxidi were quite rich because due to their marine occupation brought a lot of money to their homeland. But this did not make them indifferent nor reconciliatory with their various conquerors.On the contrary they had above all the the freedom of the Nation, Christianity and human dignity.
The Chronicle of the monk Efthymios presents that from 981 A.D. until 1700 A.D.Galaxidi was not simply a city but a small regime with high ideals. Recent archeological diggings verified that Galaxidi has a history of 3400 years starting 1393 B.C. They found a lot of copper, golden and silver coins mainly Macedonian in the harbour of the ancient Oianthi.It is known that the civilization started from the sea and all marine lands became the origins of civilization.Thus Galaxidi with its long marine history founded a special civilization in Focis (the State where it is located) Galaxidi and its people became synonymous to the sea and shipping.
In the 18th and 19th century A.D. Galaxidi was the first Greek harbour with famous shipyards and nautical fame beyond Greece.Many ship owners from the entire land of Greece came to the shipyards of Galaxidi not only to build their ships but also to recruit captains and crew from Galaxidi,known for their honesty,hard work and marine abilities.The nautical growth remained strong during the 19th century and especially during the Liberation War which started in 1821.
During the 19th century the preparation for the liberation war of the Nation from the Ottoman empire is intense.
Many historians (mainly from Peloponnese) hid the historical facts about Galaxidi and presented only those about Peloponnese. In the national archives there are two documents from Galaxidi which describe the action of the historic city of Galaxidi. After the liberation of the new Greek state, a commitee of nautical people was formed with Andreas Miaoulis as president.This commitee decided to honor the marine warriors of 1821. Among them were 11 from Galaxidi.
In 1860, Galaxidi managed to have its shipyards in operation again and, at the same time, they formed 3 nautical insurance companies with founders and members responsible to pay in case of a ship damage of another member depending on the proportion of contribution which was based on the ship’s value.
It was an ideal insurance which even astonished the greater at the time insurance company:LLoyd’s.
In 1892 the growth reaches its height with 550 ships sailing in the seas and continuing Galaxidi‘s nautical presence. Those 550 ships were mainly owned by the families of Levantis, Kammenos, Petradzas, Chardavellas, Metropoulos and Vlamis.
However during the last decade of the 19th century the Galaxidi fleet starts falling behind. Steam replaces sails but the Galaxidi fleet does not follow.
Galaxidi is considered the second nautical center after Syros.It had a school of captains which was in operation before those of Hydra and Aspropyrgos.
In the area of Roumeli Galaxidi was prominent with its big ships capable to cross the oceans with a capacity over 1100 tons. Among them were:
- Evangelistria of Petradzas
- Rodo of Chardavellas
- Maria of Petradzas
- Prodromos of Michalopoulos
- Assimoula of Arvanitis
- Athina of Petradzas and others.
It is not an exaggeration if we mention the second part of the 19th century the captain’s era.That era was presented and praised by the well known writer Eva Vlami in her renowned book “Galaxidi-the fate of a marine state”.
The cultural growth of Galaxidi became quite evident after the independence about 1830 and remained until today with writers, painters, scientists who became known in Greece and abroad. Among them was Constantin Sathas, historian and writer who was born in 1842 and died in 1914. He conducted his research for 50 years in the biggest centers of his time: Venice, Piza, Florence, Genova, Paris. He published more than 20 books( in french), 75 papers which helped him in research of Greek history. France presented him with the golden metallion of the Academy for his distributions.
Eva Vlami-Lekatsa is anoter famous writer from Galaxidi. She studied literature and music and became famous in the literary circles even in her first appearance as the writer Spyros Melas said. She was honored with the Ouranis award for the book “Skeletovrahos”.
The most recent writer from Galaxidi, Costoula Metropoulou, studied law and has written 11 books. She was awarded the Ouranis award for her book “Faces and Figures”.
In painting Spyros Vassiliou created his own school with his personal style. He studied in the Ecole des Beaux Arts and in 1930 was awarded from the Academy of Athens for his designs for the icons of the church of Saint Dennis in Athens. He published the book “Ships from Galaxidi“, where beautiful pictures (mostly painted) of the ships are presented.
The Nautical and Ethnological Museum
Archaeological artifacts, coins ranging from the 4th century to the modern Greek state, the biggest selection of 19th century sailing boat paintings in Greece, nautical items including clocks, timers, instruments, tools, travel logs, sea charts and maps as well as the postage stamp collection, “Argonaftes”, are all among the exhibits of the museum, reflecting Galaxidi’s centuries-old history and maritime tradition.
Monastery of Metamorphosis tou Sotiros
A Byzantine building at an altitude of 300m dating from 1250 AD, here, the monk and priest Efthymios wrote the history of the place entitled “Hroniko tou Galaxidiou”, Galaxidi Chronicle. Aside from its historical and ecclesiastical significance, the monastery offers amazing views of the town.