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Arki Island

Arki Island

Arki is probably one of the least-visited islands in Greece, with a permanent population of only 40 people. The island population is so small that on my last visit the school only had one pupil! There is not so much to 'see' here, but the atmosphere can be enticing. There are few facilities on the island with only a handful of rooms and only one very small mini-market, so don't expect the same type of treatment you would get in the nearby resort islands even though the island has become something of a haven for yachting types. The island of Arki or Akrihs and Narkoi, as it was named in ancient times, belongs to the jurisdiction of Patmos and is at a distance of 11 km SE of Patmos. The island is surrounded by small islets that constitute the Arki island complex (Marathi, Smineronisi, Tsouka, Tsoukaki, Avaptistos, Makronisi, Psathonisi, Kalovolos and Nisaki).


The best thing about this island is its complete lack of tourists. For one month only (August), the island buzzes with activity, and for the remainder of the time, you can pretty much have the island to yourself. The main square next to the port is surrounded by taverns, which stay open all hours and all serve excellent food. There are a few beaches, the largest one being at Tiganakia, which has nearby small islands that can be reached by swimming. Other than that, the island has no natural water and is rocky and barren. A 15 minutes hike up the hill to a tiny old church gives a breath-taking view of the surrounding islands. Today's 40 permanent inhabitants of the island of Arki are mainly involved in fishing and stock breeding. Arki, with its beautiful and very picturesque harbour constitutes a paradise for yachts and boats in summer. The feast held on August 23rd for Virgin Mary offers to the visitor the genuine Greek character with traditional folk music and local dishes. In the island, there are inns that can provide for the stay of visitors who seek serenity, beauty and the genuine hospitality of the locals. In the summer there is connection with Patmos, twice a week, with Chios with local boats and with Lipsi with chartered boats.


Due to lack of potable water and the small surface of the island, there has never been a compact settlement there. As in the other islands, in Arki too, the first inhabitants were the Kares followed by the Dorians and the Ionian Greeks from Militos who exploited Arki as an intermediate station in the channel between Samos – Kos. They built a small fortress so that they could control the biggest part of the passage. Data indicates that the fortress was built in the early Hellenistic years, possibly in two phases of construction. The North Western part of the fortress (the tower at least) dates to the 4th century B.C. It is said that in the Roman years, the fortress was destroyed by Julius Caesar, once he managed to free himself from Farmakonisi where he was held as a hostage. From the fortress alias «Avgoustini's castle” as is called today, today's port of Arki acquired its name, the port of Avgousta The ancient fortifications were used again in the early Byzantine years, after having been reinfroced appropriately. At the site of the fortress and at the highest part of the tower, there must have been direct visual contact with Kasteli, the citadel of Patmos. When, in 1087, Saint Christodoulos became owner of Patmos, the island of Arki was used by the Monastery as farming land and pasturing ground. Today's inhabitants of the island may be descendants of the farmers and sheperds of the Monastery, that still owns great part of the land. Two bronze coins were found on the island, of which one is of the roman type of concord (omonoia) (Alikarnassos-Kos), where on one side we see Karkalas and Cietis. At Tiganakia, a small sandy beach at the south of the island, and in particular at the eastern end, prehistoric pottery has been found (Neolithic period), In Koutsoura (area), at the NA part of the island, fishermen report that there are buildings in the sea.

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