Amorgos

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In the middle of the ´big blue´, with splendid natural beauty, simple architectural design in its settlements, hospitable inhabitants and a rich cultural heritage, Amorgos resists the rhythms of the new age, surprising pleasantly and enchanting every visitor.
All visitors are attracted by the explicit aura of this place and become fanatic admirers. Amorgos is not taking part in loud advertising campaigns. Distinctively it is advertised from mouth to mouth, to a public that searches for authenticity, simplicity and harmonic coexistence of nature and tradition.
Its visitors arrive as tourists and depart as friends, having carried in their luggage precious memories and an expectation to return the following year.
Amorgos is literally placed in the middle of the deep blue sea. It is positioned southeast of Naxos and is the most eastern island of the Cyclades. The island has an elongated shape, covering 121 square kilometres and a population of 1880 inhabitants, who are mainly occupied in the shipping industry, fishing, sponge diving, farming, animal raising and tourism.
The name Amorgos probably came from the plant amorgos, locally known as linokalami, a scarce herb that in the ancient times was the natural material for the amorgian tunics.
The capital of the island is Hora. It is built away from the sea, in order to be at a safe distance and protected from the pirates. Here, narrow cobbled streets, small whitewashed houses with blue windows, double storied mansions and dozens of churches, along with the windmills on the top of the hill, create a picture of simple beauty that attracts the visitor.
The port of Hora, in the western coast of the island, is called Katapola. It is the best natural harbour of the Cyclades and is comprised by three settlements, Katapola, Xilokeratidi and Rahidi.
The characteristic Cycladic architecture of the settlements, the crystal clear waters of the gulf in all nuances of the colour blue and a little further the valley with the small plantations and the olive trees, enchant the visitor, while various forms of accommodation and shops, can cover all needs for a comfortable stay.
At the north part of the island, one can find the area of the ancient city of Aegiali, with its small gulf, island’s second port and a tourist centre, along with the other three picturesque settlements: Potamos, with a panoramic view over the port, Langada, built amphitheatrically over the valley of Aegiali and Tholaria with its cobbled streets and the arches.
From town, the road towards south, leads to the area of Kato Meria, which retains its traditional farming character. Here you will find the settlements Kamari, Vroutsi, Arkesini, Kolofana and Kalotaritissa, along with the superb beaches of Mouros, Amoudi, Kato Kambos, Paradisia and the gulf of Kalotartisas which is a safe haven for fishermen.
The morphology of Amorgos is very distinct and is offered for mountain walks. Until the end of the 1980s, these mountain paths where the main routes of contact in between Amorgos’s villages.Today, six main walking paths have been mapped and signed, targeting to familiarize the visitor with the most impressive treasures of the island.
Amorgos is also famous, in the whole of Greece and abroad, for its therapeutic plants and hebs. The mountain slopes are not only full of impressive wild flowers, but also of plants which have been known for their therapeutic attributes since antiquity. A walk in the paths of Amorgos gives the chance for acquaintance with this natural wealth.
Another characteristic of Amorgos is the intense traditional colour, which does not only concern its settlements, but also the life of the residents. If you visit Amorgos, try to participate at a feast or festival. The rich popular customs, music and dances will definately compensate you, while at the same time you will also have the oportunity of trying the tasty Amorgian cuisine.

Hora
The ruins of a Hellenistic period tower in the Terlaki region, Kato Lakkos, a medieval tank that irrigated Hora, the post Byzantine churches Kera Leousa, Stavros, Agios Thomas, Mitropoli, Agioi Pantes, Agios Stefanos, the historical glebe of Fotodoti Christou and Allilodidaktiko, one of the first high schools that were founded in the post 1821 Greece, are included among the sights of Hora.

Gavra Tower -Archaeological Collection of Amorgos
The 16th century Venetian Tower of Gavras, which hosts the Archaeological Collection of Amorgos, with discoveries from excavations in the three ancient cities of Aigiali, Arkesini and Minoa is found In Hora. It has a lot of important exhibits, among which are the distinguished trunk of a Kouros and a Kori from the 6th century B.C.

Tholaria
Tholaria is located near ancient Aigiali. It is a picturesque village with beautiful white houses, cobbled streets and arches. It is found near Aigiali and can be visited either by car or by following the old path.

Lagkada
Lagkada is located on the slope of a mountain, four kilometres from the bay of Aigiali. It is built amphitheatrically and has views to the gulf of Aigiali, up to the island of Nikouria. The village is built among trees and the whitewashed houses with the characteristic Cycladic architecture create a lovely green and white picture.

Kato Meria
Kato Meria is one of the most beautiful places of Amorgos. It is located at the south-west part of the island and is an oasis of tranquillity and beauty. It is composed by the villages Kamari, Vroutsi, Kolofana, Arkesini and the settlement Rachoula. The church of Agia Paraskevi is a distinguishable sight of Kato Meria. On the road towards Kato Meria we meet the Agios Giorgis Valsamitis church, which is placed in a deep ravine with a spring that sources crystal clear water. An aqueduct is reported to have existed in the region in the ancient years

Arkesini
Arkesini is a village found 15 kilometres away from Hora. The beautiful houses, with their full of flowers courtyards, are built on the slope of the mountain Korakas. The locals are occupied with livestock-raising and fishing. The imposing church of Agios Onoufrios stands at the entry of village.
The village has a long history. Arkesini was one of the three ancient cities of Amorgos and important archaeological findings exist in the wider region.

The monastery of Chozoviotissa
The monastery of Virgin Mary “the Chased” or “Chozoviotissa”, the protector of Amorgos, remains indefinitely in the memory of those who have visited it. Its white colour dominates the area and creates a nice contrast to the deep blue of the sea. The monastery is built between the vertical rocks; it is visible only from sea and is extended in a length of 40 metres and a width of 5 metres. It is estimated that it was built in 1017. It was rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Alexios A´ Komninos (1081 – 1118). The name of the monastery comes from an alteration of the name of the city Choziba or Koziba in the Holy Land, the region “Wadi Qilt” of today’s Palestine. It is where the picture of the Virgin Mary was found and rescued.
The monastery has eight floors, which are connected to each other with narrow stone staircases that have been carved on the rock. One can reach the monastery by climbing the 350 steps.
Two Icons of Virgin Mary and religious relics from the period of Alexios Komninos are found at the monastery. Important heirlooms such as manuscript, gospels, vestments, and ecclesiastical utensils that are dated from the 10th to the 19th century are also exposed in two cells.
The internal area of the monastery reminds a labyrinth, with many arches built of stone from Milos. Wooden posts and bindings support the roofs and floors. The cells of the monks are all carved into the rock, which constitutes a unique sample of functional traditional architecture. According to the prevailing opinion, the particular monastery owes its foundation to the miraculous picture of the Virgin Mary that reached the island sent by a religious woman who came from Chozobo in Asia Minor. Another version states that the monastery was initially created in the 9th century by monks from Palestine, and was later rebuilt by Alexios Komninos. It celebrates on the 21 November.

Churches
Among the historical monuments of the region, the church of the Virgin Mary of Katapoliani (built over an ancient temple that was probably dedicated to Apollo) and the church of Evaggelistria in Xylokeratidi (a small church from the first Byzantine period with impressive architecture), present particular interest.

Ancient Minoa
The ancient city of Minoa with ruins of a stadium, a school and the temple of Dionysus lies on a hill above the harbour offering astonishing views. According to tradition, Minos (the king of Crete) built his summer palace. Parts of the city’s walls, the stadium, a school and the temple of Dionysus, are still standing today. Samples of a settlement on the same hill indicate the presence of people on Amorgos to 4000 B.C. A cemetery from the early Cycladic period and a vaulted Mycenaean grave were also found in the region.

Amorgos was first inhabited in the 5th millennium B.C. and was an important centre of the Cycladic and Mycenaean culture with the ancient cities Aigiali, Minoa and Arkesini as centres. The island took part in the Persian wars, by participating in the naval battle of Salamina. In the Roman period it was a place of exile while in the Middle ages the raids of the Saracen pirates forced residents to seek refuge in the fortified castle of Hora and in Kastri of Kato Meria.

In the Byzantine period, and according to the prevailing version, the monastery of Virgin Mary of Chozoviotissa was founded in 1088 by the emperor Alexios Komninos. It constitutes the most important monument of the island. After the Ottoman domination, in 1829, the first Greek school was founded in Amorgos, with expenses of the Holy monastery of Chozoviotissa.

Amorgos participated in the Greek Revolution in 1821 and in 1822 became a province of the New Greek state.

Amorgos is an island that celebrates throughout all year with many events, out of which the most noteworthy are: the feast of Nougat with honey that takes place in Hora each August and the custom of “Kapetanios” that takes place in the Carnival period in Lagkada. A very beautiful custom of Amorgos is the custom of the traditional wedding. On the evening of the 23rd of June the feast of “Klidonas”, is still celebrated. Αn annual succesive event of the last 8 years is the YPERIA convention for culture and tourism that is held along with multiple subside happenings. This year will be held from 7 till 12 of April 2010 and its main subjest will be “Cultural heritage and tourism Development of the Amorgos island and the Aegian area” For the last three years the “Documentary Days” film festival is also organized during summer with Greek and foreign documentaries in collaboration with the international film festival ECOCINEMA and Amorgos Film Club.
Finally, during Autumn at the harvest period, a lot of festivities take place mainly concerning music, dance and abundant local wine.
The morphology of Amorgos is very specific and is offered for mountainous walks that enchant senses. Up to the end of the 80´s, these mountainous paths constituted the main route of communication in between regions of Amorgos. Today 6 main paths have been charted and signalled, aiming at the acquaintance of the visitor with the most impressive treasures of the island.

1. Hora-monastery of Chozoviotissa-Kapsala-Asfontulitis-Potamos-Bay of Aigiali.
From Hora, a path of 1,5 km length leads to the east coast of the island, towards the monastery of Virgin Mary of Chozoviotissa, an imposing multi-storey building of unique architecture that definately attracts the visitor. It is built at a height of 300 meters above the sea on the steepest rock of the Profitis Ilias mountain(698). According to tradition, the monastery was founded in 1088 by the Byzantine emperor Alexios Komninos. A rich collection of Byzantine handwritten books, holy utensils and other historical and ecclesiastical heirlooms is exhibited in the monastery. The festival of the monastery is on the 21st of November, where fried cod and other fish are offered. The route, continuing north over vertical cliffs, passes to the interior of the island where the path becomes a dust road that soon leads to Saint George’s church – an ideal view point used as castle-observatory in the past.Following the path we reach the “Hotel” region that was once the medieval hostel for all hikers of the Palia Strata region. Enjoy the view of the north-west side of Amorgos and the spectacular islet of Nikouria and then when overpassing a quite difficult part of the path you can rest on the prettiest point of the proposed path, the Asfontilitis settlement. An abandoned settlement which forms an absolut organic example of Amorgos that fascinates with its architectural simplicity.from then on the path leads to the “untouched” Chalara region while a bit further on from the deserted Exo Meria region, begins the degression for the Aigiali region.enjoy the view from Potamos- the 1st village of Aigiali,and start thinking in which waters are you going to be swimming.

2. Hora-Katapola.
Route of 3,5 km, where the elevation difference from Hora to the sea, charms and offers nice views.

3. Lefkes-Agioi Saranta-Kamari-Kastri (ancient Arkesini)-Vroutsi-Rachoula-Arkesini.
A roughly 10 km long route that unveils a continuous cultural development of millennia to the eyes of the sightseer .Monuments of the early and middle Cycladic period are preserved at the citadel of ancient Arkesini, on the Kastela hill. Among them, parts of the Venetian fortifications are also distinguished.In ancient Arkesini,we can also find the Tower of Agia Triada,which is built with enormous blocks of stone from the 4th century B.C.

4. Bay of Aigiali-Langada-Stroumbos-Panagia Epanohoriani-Tholaria.
A 4,5 km route with great cultural interest and splendid views to the bay of Aigiali. In the region of Lagkada you can admire the old windmills, the gorge of Araklou and the church of Panagia Epanohoriani. On the Vigla hill, near Tholaria, was the citadel of ancient Aigiali, where ruins of the walls, bases of statues and graves from the early and middle Cycladic period are still preserved today.

5. Lagkada-Agios Ioannis-Stavros-Krikelos.
An impressive route of wild beauty over cliffs, where a paved path leads to the Byzantine monastery of Ioannis Theologos, and further north to the church of Stavros, above the old bauxite mine. The route,of 6,5 km total length, leads to the highest point of Amorgos (821 m.) on the mountain Krikelos or Kroukelos, from where view covers the whole island and slowly disappears in the light blue of the Aegean sea. The region is included to the Natura 2000 network.

6. Katapola-Agios Georgios Valsamitis-Agia Marina-Minoa.
This is a route of exceptional natural beauty, which passes from the glebe of Agios Georgios Valsamitis and leads to ancient Minoa, at a hill above the harbour, where according to tradition King Minos built his summer palace. Today parts of the city walls, a stadium, a school and the temple of Dionysus are still preserved.

Did you know that the 1988 movie “The Big Blue” with Jean Reno was shot on the island of Amorgòs, at the south eastern edge of the Cyclades? Parts of the island reach a considerable height above sea level, offering superb views out over the Archipelago, Amorgós is one of the most impressive Cycladic islands, boasting marvellous beaches with azure waters, gorgeous caves, ideal spots for diving, scenic bays and ancient footpaths leading through its steep rocky terrain… Inhabited since the Protocycladic Era, as indicated by archaeological finds brought to light in the area, Amorgós has a long cultural history and tradition.
The island boasts scenic bays, underwater caves ideal for diving and golden beaches, most of which are secluded (only a few are organised). You can reach them on foot or by boat.

• On Ayia Anna beach, where the film “Big Blue” was shot, you will find two amazing bays, one of which is home to the church of Ayia Anna. The beach is pebbly, with rocks and caves, crystalline waters and is ideal for snorkelling! Highlight: while you are swimming, enjoy the stunning view of the Monastery of the Virgin Mary Hozoviótissa carved into the steepest rock of Mt. Profitis Elias!
Mouros Beach with its rocky landscape and secluded caves is superb! Take a moment to admire the breathtaking view from the top of the footpath that leads down to the beach!
Ayios Pavlos is a small peninsula with pebbles. Take one of the boats departing from here to reach the small island of Nikouria, which boasts two amazing beaches.
Eyiali beach is a long sandy beach with many beach bars and tavernas. At one end of the beach there is a path leading to the secluded beach of Levrossos.
Kalotaritissa bay lies in the southernmost part of the island. It is a sandy, organised beach with beautiful blue water and a beach bar. Take a boat out to the stunning beach of Gramvoussa and bask on a white sandy beach with turquoise waters!
Maltezi is only accessible by boat departing from Katápola. It is an organised sandy beach with blue-green waters and a beach bar.
Mikri Vlyhada is a quiet secluded pebbly beach with crystal clear waters. In order to reach it you have to walk along a steep footpath (starting from Tholaria) but it is well worth the effort!
Liveros bay is a small rocky beach with crystal clear waters; here lies the impressive wreck of the ship “The Olympia” which appears in the film “The Big Blue”.

From local delicatessen one can distinguish cheese like “kefalotyri” and “mizithra” and honey of extremely good quality.In addition fava or “mageirema”(cooking that means) as it is called by locals grows in Amorgos and is famous for its taste.Other traditional products are its famous aperitifs “rakomelo” and “psimeni raki”(boiled raki with herbs and honey).Finally,one will surely have to taste pasteli and”pitaridia”(type of homemade pasta) before leaving the island.

The Amorgian recipies charm even the most demanding visitor. They include, apart from the famous patatato (kid-goat cooked with tomato and herbs), the “xydato”, the “kofto” (lamb stuffed with rice and herbs), the “giaprakia” (lettuce-dolma), the “kalogirous” (aubergines with meat and cheese) and fresh fish, with the escort of the exceptional white or red local wine. The traditional nougat with honey on lemon leaves, as well as the xerotigana (form of sweet with honey syrup) are served at the feasts.

Patatato:
Meat with potatoes in red sauce that is cooked offered free of charge at the local church feasts. As the roast lamb of Easter Sunday, it is an official dish for special cases; this is why it is usually cooked in big quantities in large pots. Usually goat meat or alternatively veal is used.

Materials:1 kilo kid-goat or veal meat (prefer the thy), 2 onions, Olive oil (a wine glass), 3-4 potatoes, Tomatoes, paste, juice or pealed tomatoes, Salt, pepper, laurel leaves, cinnamon stick.

We wash the meat, cut it in portions, clean and cut the onions. We add the oil in a saucepan and sizzle the meat until it starts changing colour and then throw the onions which we also sizzle, by mixing them continuously. We throw in the tomatoes, mix and leave it to boil a bit, we add water so much as to cover the meat. We avoid adding too much tomato so that the sauce gets too thick. We add salt and pepper, cover the pan and leave it to boil until the meat becomes soft enough. At the end of the boiling we add 1-2 laurel leaves and a stick of cinnamon. As soon as the meat boils we remove it from the saucepan, and add the potatoes to boil in the broth, and maybe add a little water if it is too thick. As soon as the potatoes have boiled, we put back the meat in the saucepan, so that they all boil together. In the traditional way the meat and the potatoes boil together. Serve in traditional ceramic plates.

How to go to Amorgos?
The two harbours of Amorgos, Katapola and Aigiali, are connected throughout the whole year with the port of Piraeus, as well as with other islands of the Cyclades and the Dodecanese. Amorgos is also connected with Naxos and the Small Cyclades by the circular route of the ferry “EXPRES SKOPELITIS”.
For more information: Port Authorities of Piraeus, Tel. 210 4226000-4, 210 4593140, Port Authorities of Katapola Tel. 22850 71259, Port Authorities of Naxos Tel. 2285 22300

Local transport
Buses, taxies, rented cars and motor bikes, as well as boats that execute regular itineraries to distant beaches, are the most common transport means of the island. For the connection of Amorgos with the Small Cyclades, but also with Volakas of Naxos, (from where you can call a taxi to the airport), there is a taxi-boat (Information N.Prasinos, Tel. 22850 71690).
For more information:
Τaxis:
Lamnatos Spiros: 22850 73570, Despotidis Antonis: 6944743090,
Liviakis Nikos: 6937 883838, 6981 410310, Kapeles Ioannis: 6977 802927
Rent a moto/car:
Aigialis tours: 22850 73394, 22850 73393
Evi’s: 22850 73021, 22850 71066
Karabinesis Thomas: 22850 73444, 22850 71777
Anemos – Kovaios Giorgios: 22850 74009
Asset: 22850 74301, 22850 74302
Dinami – Kinisis: 22850 71999, 22850 72000

Useful telephones:
Police: 22850 71210
Port Authorities: 22850 71259
Municipality office: 22850 74035, 71100
Health centres: 22850 71207, 22850 73222, 22850 72250

All text and photos by www.visitgreece.gr & www.cyclades-tour.gr