Ancient Stone Lion Of Kea

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face and head of the lion of kea
The head of the stone-carved Lion of Kea

One of the must-sees if you visit Kea is located just outside the village of Ioulida (also called Ioulis), and is accessible via a foot path in Ioulida, or from the other side near the Benjamin Spring. This stone sculpture apparently dates back to the 6th Century BCE and and its origins remain shrouded in history. Some believe that actual lions may have lived on Kea at one time, but this particular lion, carved from stone may have a mythological connection. There is some legend that Kea was inhabited by beautiful water nymphs that made the gods jealous. In addition, the nymphs began killing the women inhabitants of Kea. This resulted in the gods sending a lion to destroy them.

No one knows for sure who carved this lion, and if it is indeed related to the above myth but some suggest that after the god-sent lion dealt with the water nymphs, the residents of the area then carved the lion to be sure the nymphs would be scared off and never return to the island. Others have suggested the 8 metre long sculpture was carved by the architect that created Parthenon’s temple, located at the Acropolis in Athens.

Getting There

No matter whether you start at the village of Ioulida or from the other side at the Benjamin Spring, you can count on about a 10-15 minute where you will find a sign that marks where the Lion is, down below the footpath. To reach the sculpture requires a bit of a steep descent down some old stone stairs which might be tricky for some people. A quick note on the access from the Benjamin Spring – the road leading to it is a bit rough and you may be tempted to turn back at times. If your vehicle has good clearance though, you shouldn’t have problems. Our Volkswagon Tiguan had no issues making it to the parking area of the Benjamin Spring (In Greek, ΒΡΥΣΗ ΒΕΝΙΑΜΙΝ). The road descends from a road named Epar.Od. Limaniou Korissias-Keas, which if you carry on with instead of turning off, you will end up at the parking area at the entrance of Ioulida.

The trail itself has some very nice views of the surrounding countryside as well as the Ioulida.

We had no problem locating the signpost for the Lion, but on our way back, we met with a couple who had walked from the village and had missed it entirely. If you go, this is what you are looking for:

signs marking entrance to lion of kea
Sign marking footpath and gate to the Lion of Kea

You’ll walk down the little path that eventually becomes old stone stairs, and you’ll be arriving at the Lion from behind it. This photo taken from a distance and from the footpath heading towards the village may give you a better idea of your access to the sculpture:

View of Lion from footpath above and showing stairs leading to the site.

From Benjamin Spring, the trail has a stone wall along much of it – the Island of Kea is covered with old stone walls that seem to be marking property boundaries. It’s a fairly rugged island and plenty of field stone to build walls and houses with:

view ioulida through gap in stone wall
Photo of Village Of Ioulida, Kea through gap in stone wall.
tall stone wall on both sides of trail
Wall on both sides of the trail heading to Lion Of Kea

After we had returned to our vehicle, the sun was in a nice position to try to capture a few shots of the view of the village from the location near Benjamin Spring. At one point, a tourist walked along the wall and then sat down upon it, obviously enjoying the wonderful view. Several minutes later, a couple arrived near the same spot and turned around to also gaze back at the village. I was lucky to get this photo of the scene:

tourists enjoying the view of the village of ioulida
Tourists enjoying the view of Village Of Ioulida Near Benjamin Spring

I have quite a few more photos that I took along the trail, but enough for now! Have you ever visited the Lion of Kea? What were your impressions? Feel free to leave a comment, below.

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