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There is legend of a lake. Its waters are said to have magical properties that can return to you something that was once lost.
Abigail src

Lake Nostos is an Enchanted Forest location featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It first appears in the thirteenth episode of the first season.

Lake Nostos is an allusion to the Lady of the Lake's lake from the Arthurian legend.


Before First Curse

During the month of June, an eight-year-old Red Riding Hood listens intently while her grandmother Granny recounts to her the tale of how Lake Nostos came to be. According to the storybook Granny reads from, there used to be an exquisite castle located deep within the Enchanted Forest ruled by a King and Queen Nostos. Every morning, the king would enjoy traveling to a nearby spring, and one day, the queen decided to surprise him for his birthday. Upon arrival at the spring, however, she saw how the king was listening to a fair washerwoman who had a beautiful singing voice. After the woman finished with the clothes, she would dress down and jump into the water. Seeing that the king's attention so focused on the woman's beauty, the queen began to fear that he now loved the washerwoman more. The queen then turned to an evil sorceress in the hopes of placing a curse upon the washerwoman. The next morning, the washerwoman is unable to leave the water after jumping in for a swim and could no longer breathe out of water. Sometime later, the washerwoman grew powerful in her new domain, eventually honing her power enough to expand the spring into a lake. Determined to get her revenge, she finally caused the whole castle to be pulled into the lake. The lake was then said to be able to cure curses.[1] ("Red's Untold Tale")

To help Princess Abigail regain her true love Frederick who was accidentally turned into gold by her father King Midas' golden touch, Prince Charming goes to Lake Nostos, as legend has it the waters of the lake can restore life to someone who is cursed. Prince Charming successfully gathers the water after killing the guardian of the lake, the Siren, when she tried to lure him to his death. Abigail uses the waters to revive Frederick back to life. ("What Happened to Frederick")

After Prince Charming and Snow White plan to take back the kingdom from King George and the Evil Queen, their journey is sidetracked after Prince Charming's mother, Ruth is severely injured during an attack and struck with a poisoned arrow by one of King George's men. Lancelot, who left the service of King George and joins the party, goes to the lake seeking out its waters to get some for Prince Charming's dying mother. Unfortunately, the lake has all but dried up since the Siren has been killed. Lancelot finds a few drops of the lake's water left, but Ruth is reluctant to drink it after learning the king has cursed Snow White to become barren. Knowing the water can cure the princess, Ruth secretly switches it out to Lancelot. As Ruth is near death, she asks to see her son and his love be married. During the ceremony, Lancelot pours the lake's water into a cup that is thought to have mystical properties of granting eternal life. Snow White drinks it and is healed of her barrenness, though she doesn't yet know. Soon after they are married, Ruth perishes. Afterward, when Prince Charming attempts to use his mother's old necklace, which has the power to determine the gender of a woman's first-born child, on Snow White, she is shocked to see the pendant works. Only then, she realizes the true extent of Ruth's sacrifice for her. ("Lady of the Lake")

After First Curse

Emma and Mary Margaret become trapped in the Enchanted Forest after they are accidentally transported there by the use of a hat. They team up with Mulan and Aurora, and for a brief time, Hook, to find a way back to Storybrooke. Emma is given an enchanted compass by a giant that will help them return home. After Aurora is kidnapped by Cora and returns unharmed, they continue on their journey, but become trapped in Rumplestiltskin's old jail cell. They free themselves in time to reach Lake Nostos as Cora uses magic to restore the water of the lake, at least partially, and Hook pours the ashes of the magic wardrobe into it to create a portal to Storybrooke. Emma, Mary Margaret, and Mulan stop her and Hook from going through after a battle. Mulan hurries off to restore Aurora with her heart after Hook gives it back. Cora makes an attempt to tear out Emma's heart but is blasted back by a light coming from inside Emma's body. Then, Emma and Mary Margaret jump into the open portal homeward. Cora and Hook are left in the disappointment of their failure, but Hook rejuvenates the shriveled magic bean he got from the giant with the water, and uses it to get both of them to Storybrooke on his ship. ("Queen of Hearts")


On-Screen Notes

Fairytales and Folklore

  • The name "Nostos" is a reference to the theme used in Ancient Greek literature, a theme usually involving an epic hero who has to travel at sea and eventually succeeds in coming home. The prime example of this is seen in Homer's Odyssey, which includes among other things, the hero Homer having to overcome Sirens who tempt him to abandon his journey.

Popular Culture

Filming Locations


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.


  1. Red's Untold Tale, Wendy Toliver, Kingswell Teen, September 2015, Chapter 12
  2. File:209Title.png
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dove, Steve (February 22, 2012). Storybrooke Secrets: What Happened to Frederick. ABC. Archived from the original on September 18, 2015. “Nostos (the river) is a reference to Homer's The Odyssey. It is the Greek word for "homecoming," and the root of the word "nostalgia," meaning "pain or longing, the psychological condition of longing for the past." "Nostos" is also the title of the third and final section of James Joyce's Ulysses.”
  4. Siren #207 “Entrapment”. MovieMaps. Retrieved on March 11, 2019.
    File:203AllThatsLeft.png (Once Upon a Time)
    Screenshot from Siren: "Entrapment" (Note the placement of the dunes and surrounding trees. Once Upon a Time CGIed out the power lines and the mountain in the upper right hand corner.)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Movies Filmed at The Makin Lands. MovieMaps. Retrieved on March 11, 2019.

Start a Discussion Discussions about Lake Nostos

  • Bodies of Water Category

    12 messages
    • What do you guys think about an icon like a blue drop? I mean, those pages aren't exactly items, nor locations. They are... water
    • These pages are locations. Lakes are locations, Rivers are locations, etc... ^^ Bodies of Water do not include all water-related elements, j...
  • What's the Significance of "Magic Water"

    9 messages
    • Dan Fox wrote:Anastasia mentioned in Dirty Little Secrets, that there are magical waters within or beneath ALL of the realms. So, in some way...
    • I agree that all the waters in all the realms are magicaly linked and there may be a magic well that is outside of storybrooke. Also there i...
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