The Name

Porfyra means “purple”; it is a kind of seashell or conch and is also a precious colour, a symbol of glory and power. They say that the dog of Hercules ate from this shell and its mouth became painted red all over – this was how purple was discovered. A small gland hides in the dye, which is removed while the conch is still alive. For the ancient people, it had the same value as gold. On the island of Leuki, one of the Koufonisia islands, on its northern side, from Minoan times until the Byzantine period, there was a significant “production unit” of superior grade purple pigment.

Porfyra Village