Astypalea

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General Information

Astypalea is considered the "bridge" connecting the island groups of CYCLADES and DODECANESE. The island combines elements of both of these island groups. It has an area of 97 square kilometers, a coastline of 110 kilometers και 1,113 inhabitants. It is 23 nautical miles from Kos and 96 nautical miles from Rhodes. The island's high rocky mountains, it's amazing beaches and picturesque villages and towns, invite the visitor to take a magical journey into the Blue of the Aegean Sea and White of its traditional houses.


Astypalea’s name ( which means “old town”) comes from, according to mythology, a sister of Europe, mother of King Minos. Astypalea and Europe were daughters of Phoenix and Perimidis.

From the union of Astypalaias with Poseidon were born Agaios and the King of Kos, Eurypylus. Another version of the origin of the island’s naming says that it comes from the words city and old, because Dorians who settled on the island, found an older settlement built by the Phoenicians. Transformation of a foreign name, probably Phoenician, the words city and old meant low place, since the island is composed of two parts connected by a low isthmus.

Many researchers consider the place name as a non-Greek and dating back to the Sumerian language as-dub-gal-e, which means Gods big bank.

 

The multifarious shores of Astypalea is nothing but a perpetual game between land and sea.
In the middle of the island, the land narrows so much that a strip of land 10 meters, connects the two sections. The Strait, as the locals call it, separates the eastern Astypalea "Inner Island" and the western "Outer Island".

Astypalea or Hora

Capital and port of the island, built on a hill into the sea forming two bays: the port - Pera Gialos and the Bay Livadia. At the top of the Castle of dark local stone from which emerge the white domes of the Annunciation and St. George. Around the whitewashed houses with blue shutters and wooden railings on the balconies. Among them are churches and domed churches. In the neck of the hill, eight windmills, the ornaments of Hora. Beyond that is the traditional coffee shop and a little farther lies the Town Hall from where the two main roads begin which lead up to the Castle. Each one leads to a well known church, the Monastery of Panagia Portaitissa to the side of Livadi and Great Panagia to the side of Pera Gialos.

Analipsi or Maltezana

Seaside village with beautiful sandy beach stretched a small valley in Out Islands. The second name Maltezana reference to the pirates who pillaged the Aegean and found refuge in the bays of the island. The village hugs the bay with a long jetty where boats dock and reaches the orchards and vineyards. From Tour boats take you to beaches and islands Kraft, Hardy, Agia Kyriaki, Koutsomytis, Sirna and mosquitoes.

Livadi (meaning Meadow)

A seaside village that spread along a fertile valley on the homonym bay, Livadi is the island's flower garden. The gardens with mandarin, orange trees, vines, and houses smuthered in flowers, are spread across the width and length of the stream which leads to a beautiful beach.

Vathi

It is a very enclosed bay (about 50 meters), more like a lagoon. The village of Vathi has two small settlements Exo Vathi, located at the entrance of the bay and it has a small ladder where the boats tie up and that of Mesa Vathi, which is at the head of the bay with fields, a few trees and grape vines. In The visitor can reach Vathi by means of a passable dirt road or by boat which runs regularly from the Bay of Vai.

Surrounding Islets

To the southeast lie the islands Hondro, Ligno, Agia Kiriaki with the chapel of Ag Kiriaki, Koutsomitis with a beautiful beach and Kounoupi. Farther out lie the islands Adelfi, Syrna and the Tria Nisia. To the West are the islands Ktenia, Pontikoussa, Ofidoussa and Katsagreli, while in the North the islands Fokionisia.

Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites

The Baths at Talaros Maltezana, Hellenistic mosaics, unique in Greece, with bluish colors and ceramics and interesting compositions on the seasons and the symbols of the zodiac. The Monument of French Admiral Biggs, leader of the struggle against the pirates in the early 18th century. located near Schoinonta. Heroes monument has been erected in the town.

Remains of Minoan settlement and ruins of the tower dominating the entrance of the bay of Vathi.

Remains of Christian Basilica (5th c.) with remarkable mosaics in Maltezana.  On top of the ruins is built the chapel of St. Barbara, with Ionic capitals on the lintel. At the close towering monolithic columns and bases. The space in front of the ruins, the meadow , is a location where perhaps the temple of Artemis was.

 

Castles

The Venetian Castle of Quirini, with the family crest. Architectural belongs to the type, fortified settlement where the exterior walls of the homes create a wall with small windows for loopholes.

The houses of Quirini are built around the entrance on the east side, with two levels  and until 1956 were all inhabited. Inside the castle are two churches, white, with ornated bell towers. At the entrance, the Church of Virgin Mary of the Castle (Panagia - Evangelistria) and on the far side, the church of St. George. The church of Panagia was built in 1853 over the arched entrance of the castle. Inside there is an inscription dating from  1413 and the escutcheons of the Quirini. The church of St. George was built in 1790.

 

Castle of St. John opposite the monastery of St. John. Natural fortress with a secret entrance and passageway to the adjacent hill, as they say. This is where the terrible Barbarossa attacked and killed the inhabitants. According to tradition, the castle was impregnable. Today, ruins of buildings and cistern. Perhaps this is where the inhabitants fled during the difficult years of the pirate attacks which raged on all through the Aegean from the 7th century. Access to the castle is difficult.

 

Monasteries and Churches

The church of Panagia Portaitissa Chora, painted white, with a beautiful tower, below the Castle in the rhodium-poetic name from the tree that was in the churchyard. It is one of the most beautiful in the Dodecanese. Founded by Anthimos the Blessed in the mid 18th century. Inside there is a carved iconostasis, dressed in gold foil, unique of its kind. Tradition says that the image portrayed is that of the monastery of Mount Athos Iberians (placed over the wood and the image imprinted itself). Next to the church of Panagia church housed a small collection of old icons.

The Church of Panagia in Chora, with mosaic flooring in the courtyard. Part of a complex of five temples, which with a background of the sea , makes for a spectacular site. 

The Monastery of Panagia Flevariotissa in Chora, built in pit slope. Inside the cave is part of the church, filled with Byzantine style building. It  was a very ancient site for worshiping, as is clearly seen  in the architectural remains in the  courtyard. Remarkable as well is the wooden iconostasis.

 

The Monastery of St. John of Makri, built on an imposing landscape between two cliffs, overlooking the sea and the islets of Chtenia,  Pontikoussa  and Ofidoussa. Beneath the church are gardens and springs with crystal clear waters. The creek leads to beach with crystal clear waters. Best time to visit is at sunset.

 

Picturesque Chapels

 

The chapels of Agios Dimitrios, Agios Eleftherios, Saint Panteleimon, St. George and St. Constantine, stand out from the others. The Chapel of the Ascension, the oldest settlement of Maltezana.

 

The chapels of Agios Dimitrios, Agios Eleftherios, Saint Panteleimon, St. George and St. Constantine, stand out from the others. The Chapel of the Ascension, the oldest settlement of Maltezana.

Also see...

The church of Panagia, deserted, on th road to Vathi.
The church of St. Nicholas on a hill in Vathi.
The churches of St. John in Vathi and Mary of Thomas.
The remains of an early Christian basilica on the hill of St. Basil in Livadi.

 

Caves

The Cave of the Dragon in the Vathi, impressive stalactites and stalagmites.
You can reach them from Vathi by boat or hiking (about 2 hours).

Cave Negrou on Vatses.
Tradition connects them with myths of pirates and treasure.
You can reach them by boat from. There are organized tours to the cave and the surrounding area.

 

Do not forget to taste the traditional cuisine and products of the island:

"Pouches" (pie with kopanisti and honey)
Home made sweets (quince, fig, bitter orange, bergamot)
Diples and kserotrigana, lentils with grated pasta and vinegar
Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves, cabbage or zucchini)
Ladotyri, cheese in a basket, "chlorate" (cheese)
Xyalina (type yogurt)
Pasta with Lobster, octopus meatballs, fish
Goat stuffed with rice, chopped offal and spices ("Lamprianos")
Kitronokouloura (with green and saffron) lampropittes
and finally the special honey from the island with amazing taste and aroma of thyme.