Evrotas River | Mani Lakonia | The Creator of the Valley of the Ancient Sparta
Updated: Nov 3
George Papadellis | SG Head
The Evrotas river or Eurotas river, 82 Km long, is the main river of the Mani Lakonia area and one of the major rivers of the region of Peloponnese. Evrotas is fed by Eurotas Springs and by smaller rivers coming from the Mountain Taygetos and the Mountain Parnonas, and it empties into the Laconian Gulf.
Condition and Use
The water of Evrotas is used extensively for irrigation, a main reason for its drought during the summer and its flooding during the winter. Irrigation is taking place especially for citrus, the famous fruit of Laconia, however fertilizers are still polluting the water. The plain of Elos at the mouth of the river, is a large fertile land.
River Current State
Today, Eurotas is dramatically changed in comparison with its primary state, mainly due to the many wells that people have constructed through the decades. In this condition, the river has parts actually dry of surface water.
History of Evrotas Valley
The valley of Eurotas was firstly inhabited by the Leleges, the inhabitants of the eastern Aegean. The son of Lelex (the King of the Leleges) was called Eurotas, whose daughter was named Sparta. Sparta married Lacedaemon, and he named the place Sparta. The presence of the Leleges tribe has been proved in the late 20th century when signs of an underwater town between Punta and Elafonisos island were found (pottery, tombs, walls). The findings showed links with the Cyclades and the north Aegean, where Leleges lived.
For the Mycenaean period, proof is better. In the area of Sparta, Evrotas hosts a temple, the Menelaon, and remains of a Mycenaean city of the late Bronze Age. And then, excavations found a principal settlement site of the late 15th century BC, which has been identified as Homeric Sparta of the ruling couple Menelaos and Helen (i.e. the Beautiful Helen of the Trojan War).
Later, the classical Sparta was built on the west bank of Eurotas river.
Photo by: in the public domain
Evrotas Valley Today
The capital of Lakonia, the city of Sparta is built in the valley’s center today. The rest of the valley, this fertile farmland, is a place of intense agriculture, arboriculture and viticulture.