Saranda’s story is over 2000 years old. It was one of the seaside harbours of the Old Epirus.
The name of the town is associated with an interesting legend about a mission of 40 Roman soldiers, which aim remains unknown to this day. During the voyage bad weather forced them to moor their ship in Onhezmi Bay (today’s Saranda). The locals, who were of different faith than the Catolic soldiers, took them for interrogation as prisoners. They made them a condition: they will either change their faith to Orthodox and escape death, or will be sentenced to death by staying in a pool with freezing water. The soldiers did not accept the offer. They decided to sacrifice their own lives all to the glory of God.
And so it happened. After execution the locals themselves, shocked at such a big sacrifice and great faith in God, deemed them the Holy 40. In honour of the 40 heroes’ courage a Monastery was even built on a hill above Saranda. The Holy 40 – Santa Quaranta – Saranta – Saranda. It took place on March 9th in VI century, thus this date can be acknowledged as the holiday of the town.