The cities of Lilaia and Polydroso are situated in the valley of the river Kifissos in northern Phocis. Both cities prospered because of their privileged location between two major roads connecting Thessaly to southern Greece. Of all the cities in this region (Haradra-Mariolata, Lilaia-Kato Agoriani, Erochos-Polydroso, Drymaia-Glounista, Amfikleia-Dadi), Lilaia was renown for its abundant water supply, connected since antiquity with the springs of the river Kifissos. In fact, the city was named after the nymph Lilaia, daughter of the deified river. The 'Catalogue of Ships' in Homer's Iliad (B, v. 523) mentions the city in association with the springs of the Kifissos, and Homer's hymn to Apollo records that the beautiful waters of the Kifissos spring from Lilaia and flow before the city. The city's inhabitants also believed that the water of the Kastalia spring at Delphi was a gift from the Kifissos; they placed sweets inside the water on several occasions and believed that these would emerge in the Kastalia. Lilaia is mentioned by Strabo (9.407), Pausanias (10.3.3-5), Ptolemy (3.14.14), and Pliny (Nat. Hist. 4.27).
The earliest traces of habitation in the area date to the Early Helladic period. After the Phocean cities were destroyed by Philip II of Macedon in 346 BC, the city of Lilaia was joined to the neighbouring city of Erochos, which occupied the Agios Vasilios hill and the area of the cemetery of modern Polydroso. Lilaia's fortifications probably date to the period of reconstruction of the Phocean citadels, in the years following Philip II's reign. Traces of early fortification walls, which may pre-date the city's destruction by Philip II, survive at the top of the acropolis.
The archaeological site of Lilaia and Polydroso includes the fortification walls, a fountain house, and the remains of a temple. The most beautiful springs of the Kifissos river still lie in this region. The Lilaians built a shrine dedicated to the river god near the spring of Agia Eleousa at Polydroso, and presented him with lavish offerings. Several architectural elements, such as architraves, triglyphs, and column drums, and the imposing retaining wall, which supported the temple, survive. The churches of Agios Christoforos and Agia Eleousa, which replaced the ancient cult buildings during the Early Byzantine period, used an abundance of ancient building materials.
Lilaia's imposing fortifications, which date to the fourth century BC, stand near the church of Agia Eleousa. Several rectangular towers reinforced the walls of trapezoidal masonry, which still stand to a substantial height; the distinctive middle tower at the very top of the acropolis controls the entire valley of the upper Kifissos. Sections of the ancient fortification wall were reconstructed and added to during the Frankish period (thirteenth-fourteenth centuries).
A rural shrine dedicated to Demeter, excavated by Christos Carouzos in 1928 and 1934, lies in the region controlled by Erochos. The sanctuary has a square ground plan and comprised a square terrace, on top of which stood a possible temple or altar, entered through a propylon with staircase. Finds from the shrine indicate that it was used from the Late Archaic until the Hellenistic period.Wikidata ID: Q1267602
(Odysseus, Greek Ministry of Culture)