The Nekromanteion of Acheron is the entrance to Ancient Greece’s underworld. And we get to visit! Here’s what it is and why Xenia chose it.

Photo of the main sanctuary at the   Nekromanteion of Acheron by Evilemperorzorg at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Evilemperorzorg at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The myth of the Nekromanteion of Acheron

There is a place that every soul in ancient Greece passed at least once, the river of Acheron when “Charon” guides them on his boat down to the gates of Hades.

This river still flows, travelling from high mountains of Epirus, meandering all the way to the sea. Its delta hugs a beautiful sandy beach called “Ammoudia”.

At this sandy beach is where we will anchor, before we venture on the river ourselves and visit the oracle of the dead, in the cove of Persephone.

Many myths are told of the living who dared to make the journey to the underworld. In Homer’s Odyssey there is a description of this place, when our hero searched for the soul of Tiresias to give him guidance on how to return to Ithaca.

These are the instructions on how to find the Oracle:

“You will come to a wild coast and to Persephone’s grove, where the hill poplars grow and the willows that so quickly shed their seeds.

Beach your boat there by the Ocean’s swirling stream and march on into Hades’ Kingdom of Decay.

There the River of Flaming Fire and the River of Lamentation unite around a pinnacle of rock to pour their thundering streams into Acheron”

Witch Circe, Homer’s Odyssey

Kayaking up the river

Photo of people kayaking up the river to the Nekromanteion of Acheron

At the river bank our kayak guide will await us and take us up the river until we will arrive at the Oracle of the Dead, the Necromanteion of Acheron.

The site is well preserved. The lower part of the walls still stands, made of huge hexagonal rocks. A small hole in the ground guides us in the belly of the earth.

In ancient times, pilgrims went through an ordeal to enter. Days of fasting, walking through the seemingly unending labyrinth while inhaling hallucinogenic vapors had a terrifying and disorienting effect on them.

When they were ready, they were lowered by windlass into the chamber where the priests were standing. The pilgrims consulted the souls of their loved ones, who were mere shadows on the walls.

It is said that the dead are part of all time. They exist simultaneously in the past, the future and the present. Therefore they can advise and guide you with their knowledge. But be aware of the question you will ask.

Let’s Go!

We’ll visit the Necromanteion of Acheron on our A Journey through Time Tour. And we can choose to hike along the river or go kayaking with a local guide.

We will make our own pilgrimage up the river. Our preparation will be milder. We will explore the beauty of this place and feel the connection to the willows, the poplars, the rock, the earth and the flowing water.

Taking the time to reflect and listen, we will be guided into our own selves.

When we are ready, we will ask our question and seek our answer.