Resisting the Pirates
Balos and Pefkos – Neohori
In medieval times, all the villages of the Amfilissos River that could be seen from the sea were at risk of attack from pirates.
Every time that the sails of the pirate ships appeared on the horizon, smoke was generated from a beacon at Koumeika. Immediately, all the people in the villages of the Amfilissos River started to move to a fortified rock in Neochori called Kastraki (Castle Rock). Two specially constructed wide tracks – one from Pefkos, one from Balos, led to the Castle Rock. (Part of one of these tracks can be seen today, below the school at Neochori).
Kastraki (Castle rock)
When pirates were spotted, these wide roads were used to transfer many people, together with their animals and food, to the Castle Rock, where a secret tunnel led to the Church of Aghios Taxiarchis (Angel Protector – officer of the angels) at Neochori, arriving under the alter.
The church would appear completely closed up – barricaded against the pirates and empty, But in fact the church would be full of people arriving by the tunnel and keeping silent while the pirates were around. So the pirates were left to vandalize the houses in the villages but they could not kill the inhabitants or steal the treasures in the church of Aghios Taxiarchis.
Church of Aghios Taxiarchis, Neochori
This church is still today fortified like a castle. It had sockets built into its outside walls, in which enormous beeswax candles could be inserted, and lit as protection against diseases and unbelievers, especially pirates from Malta, Turkey, Tunisia and the Barbary Coast.
Along the road from Balos to Koumeika was a monastery that was burned by pirates in the 14-15th century. When the monks knew that the pirates were coming, they placed the ornaments and treasures from the monastery in a well that they had dug for this purpose and, in this way, saved them from the pirates.