Acheron (gre. Ἀχέρων/ lat. Styx) is a 58 km long river starting near Ioannina, Epirus region. It flows into the Ionian Sea in Ammoudia, near Parga.
In Greek mythology, Acheron was known as the river of Underworld.
The souls of the newly dead were carried to the Underworld by Hades’ ferryman Charon. Of course, you had to pay Charos two coins to get there and if you couldn’t afford it, your soul was left to the banks of the river.
Acheron also flows through the Necromantion, where the very famous and popular oracle of Necromantion could talk to the dead. The ruins of Necromantion still exists.
Acheron river has been acknowledged by its strange energy that attracts spiritual people of all kind. There are many stories of a strange healing power that lies beyond the surface of the clear water. It was believed that Acheron had miraculous powers and could make someone invulnerable.
According to one tradition, Achilles was dipped in it in his childhood, acquiring invulnerability, with exception of his heel, by which his mother held him. This is the source of the expression “Achille´s heel”, a metaphor for a vulnerable spot.
The nature around the river is very rich with flora and fauna and it is protected by EU’s Natura 2000 program.
A village called Glyki lies at the bottom of the valley, where part of the river comes down from the mountains through a canyon. This is the place where the most Springs of Acheron are.
Above the canyon is Souli’s Castle where a war between Greeks and Turks were taken place.
Nowadays it is believed that in Christian Era there was a monstrous Draco who ruled the river and the once so clean water was turned poisonous by its venomous fangs. The villagers had to sacrifice one maiden girl every year in order to keep the Drago satisfied.
Fortunately, a fearless man called Donatos came to the rescue. He managed to kill the Drago with his sword and he saved the villagers by turning the water back to clear and drinkable. He was then declared Saint Donatos and he is still the Saint of Glyki. You can still find a lot of small monasteries dedicated to him.