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Astypalea Island

Astypalea Island

Astypalea is one of those secret islands that receive few foreign visitors but is popular with Greeks. On this gorgeous island of Astypalea of the Dodecanese, where local traditions are still alive, your holidays will consist of eating lots of fish (imposed by the many fish taverns of the island), and lots of swimming on beautiful deserted bays (yes, they still exist!). When on Astypalea island, do not miss a visit to the capital of Astypalaia, Chora, with its beautiful white washed houses and a Venetian castle crowning it, and a visit to the windmills, as well as the small port of Maltezana, especially between 7 and 9 p.m. when fishermen return and sell fish and crayfish straight from their boats (get a taste of the traditional life).


Astypalea is one of those secret islands that receive few foreign visitors but is popular with Greeks. This gorgeous island is situated west of Nissiros and east of Anaphi. Its area is 97 square kms and it has a coastline of 110 kms with many natural harbours, bays and numerous islets. The island comprises of two rock masses, joined by a 110 meter isthmus. The main settlement of the island is Chora which is situated on the western coast and is built on the very same site as the ancient city. Above the town dominates the fort with its two white washed churches which John Quirini the 4th restored and which is much sung about in the folk music tradition as the "Fort of Astropalia". Today the town has extended down along the coast until it joins with today's harbour which is known as Pera Yialos. At a small distance of Chora is Livadi, a rich coastal valley. It produces exceptional quality citrus fruits and vegetables and ends upon an idyllic beach. In the northern part of the island there is a large and totally safe harbour with a small settlement called Maltezana or Analipsi. Vathi, situated along a picturesque bay, is another settlement which reached its peak in the past due to the vast quantities of lime which was enough to cover local needs and also be exported. Ancient writers speak with marvel of the island's fine climate, the multitude of game which breed there (especially pheasants and rabbits) and of the abundant quantities of fish and sponges in the surrounding seas.  It is worth noting that snakes are not to be found on Astypalaia.


According to Greek mythology Astypalea and Europe were the daughters of Finikos and Perimidis. Ancient inhabitants of the island were the "Kares" who named the island "Pyrra" (greek word for "fire"), after its reddish coloured soil.

The island for centuries belonged to the Minoan empire. The favourable position of the island captured the interest later on of the Romans who took control of the island in 1207.

In 1537 the former pirate and later admiral of the Sultan, the fearful Barbarossa, gave a violent end to Venetian dominance and from then onwards the island followed the fortunes of the Dodecanese complex during subsequent Otomman and Italian rules, until its incorporation with Greece after World War II.


Many medieval ruins are found scattered all over the island. Sites to be seen on the island include the picturesque windmills, the unique small houses within the fort (Karae's lanes), the picture perfect beaches and the natural harbours. Within the fort are two old churches, namely St. George and The Virgin of the Fort (the Annunciation). However the main veneration site is "Our Lady of the Door" (Portaitissa) which is celebrated with a festival on the 15th of August.

- The Castle with the 2 churches inside it: Panagia of Castro and Aghios Georgios - Archaeological Museum - Pera Gialos - Aghios Ioannis Castle - SW coast of the island - Monastery of Panaghia Portaitissa-Livadi - Megali Panaghia church-Pera Gialos - Ecclisiastic museum

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