Donousa is a real paradise, away from the pressing rhythms of modern life and of bustling tourist resorts, for those who want to enjoy nature and experience the authenticity of the place and its people. Life in Donousa is serene and has a simplicity that charms and relaxes its visitors.
Donousa is the most northern island of the Small Cyclades, an island cluster between Naxos, Ios and Amorgos which also includes Irakleia, Koufonisia and Schoinousa. It has a surface of 13 square kilometres and 160 permanent residents, who are occupied with fishery, livestock-farming and tourism.
The capital and centre of tourist life of the island is Donousa or Stavros. It is a beautiful settlement with authentic Cycladic colour, built in a windless gulf on the south-western coast, where the harbour is also found, well protected from the north winds of the Aegean. The church of Timios Stavros (1902) is the jewel of the settlement. It is a whitewashed building of simple architecture, with a blue dome and a really beautiful belfry.
In Stavros you can find anything a visitor needs for a comfortable and pleasant stay, while a smaller pier in the interior of the harbour, offers safe anchorage for the owners of sailboats. One of the most beautiful beaches of the island, the Stavros beach, is located next to the harbour.
The “twin” churches of Panagia and Agios Ioannis, a unique architectural cluster where the two basilicas are linked under a small belfry, are found on the hill east of Stavros. The central street of the island connects Stavros with the other three settlements, Messaria, Mersini and Kalotaritissa on the north. In Mersini you will meet a century old plane tree and a source with running waters, which constitutes a rare sight in Cyclades, near the church of Agia Sofia with the splendid view.
Excavations that took place in the region of Vathi Limenari,revealed ruins of a Geometric settlement that had been built on the remnants of an older settlement from the Copper era. It was a place of exile in the Roman period and was used as a pirate shelter in th Middle Ages.
The fact that its residents learned about the handing-over of the kingdom from King Otto to the new king, 14 years later, at the duration of the visit of King Georgios A’, shows how much isolated islands were in that period. The island has allready been inhabited since the geometric, as the findings from the location Vathi Limenari(east side towards Amorgos) testify. Excavations that took place there, betwwn 1968 and 1972, showed that there was a settlement, which today has sunk into the sea.A large amount of ceramic and copper vessels, for religious as well as for daily use, was found, dating from the middle geometric period. Certain of these vessels geometric drawings and human forms are exhibited today in the archaeological museum of Naxos.
Capital and centre of life of the island. It is a beautiful settlement with authentic Cycladic colour, built in a windless gulf on the south-western coast. At the same location lies the main harbour of the island, well protected from the north winds of the Aegean.
It is a green settlement filled with apricot trees, peach trees and fig trees. Cool water sources from the spring at the roots of the century old plane tree near the church of Agia Sofia. In the location of Vathi Limenari there are ruins of settlements from the geometric period, which are the most ancient habitation samples on the island. In Mersini there is a sight of special interest: the mixed system of electric energy production, which until 2002 supplied the whole settlement with electric current.
Kalotaritissa is found in the north-eastern part of Donousa. It is a beautiful settlement with low stone built houses and the white church of Agios Georgios.
The Timios Stavros is the largest church of Donousa as well as the protector of the island. It was first built at the end of the 19th century. A heavy storm tore the church down and drifted all its remnants to the sea. The icon of “Ypsosis of Timios Stavros” was found several days later on the sandy beach of Agia Paraskevi in the Kato Meria of Amorgos by Dimitrios Skopelitis who organised a charity aiming at the construction of a new church, this time however at a more safe location. The new church was inaugurated in 1902. It is a square building with a dome, which embellishes the largest settlement of the island today, which also took its name from the church (in the old days it was called Kambos).
At the festival of Stavros, on the 14th of September, pilgrims come from the surrounding islands with votives and candles. On the afternoon of the eve of the 14th of September, a mass takes place in the church of Stavros and festivities follow in the courtyard, where bread, food (the traditional patatato) and wine are offered. A music and dance festival follows with traditional music groups.
For friends of the sea, the amazing sandy beaches of Kedros, Vathi Limenari, Livadi and Fykio, with crystal clear waters in turquoise and deep blue nuances are found on the southern coast of Donousa. On the north-eastern part of the island, one can choose to swim between the three beaches of Kalotaritissa with their small pebbles and transparent waters.
Local products / recipes
The very tasty dishes of the island include stuffed goat with rice, kavourma from pork, fried green pies with seskoula and fennel and, of course, marvellous myzithra cheese and the homemade pasta “klosta spaghetti” and “pitaridia”. The local red semi sweet or sweet wine from local grape varieties such as voudomato, rozaki, mandilaria, athiri or fokiano is very tasty. In October residents “cook” raki, which is served with dry figs. The “sweet dishes” of Donousa are supplemented by the traditional nougat with honey (served on lemon leaves), and splendid Fotopites, loukoumades and xerotigana made for the feast of the 6th of January celebrations.
Some of the traditional dishes of Donoussa are:
• “Patatato” (meat cooked in tomato sauce and served with potatoes).
• “Kavurmas” (spiced pork braised in its own fat and juice).
• “Giaprakia” (stuffed cabbage leaves).
• Stuffed kid with rice.
• “Souvli” (cream made of wheaten flour, oil, water, salt and sugar. In the past, local women fed their babies this cream, because it was considered to be very nutritious).
• “Hortopites” (fried pies filled with greens – chards – fennel and onion).
• “Aranista” (a sort of “trahanas”, a milk-wheat flour combination).
• “Klosta” (homemade local pasta).
• “Pitaridia” (long “hilopites” – noodles – cooked in milk).
• “Xerotigana” (fritters with honey). A wonderful dessert.
How to arrive: The amount and the availability of ferry Itineraries from Piraeus towards Donousa depend on the seasons, while the ferry “EXPRES SKOPELITIS” connects daily the island with Naxos and the remainder islands of the Small Cyclades (Tel. 22850 22300).
For more information:
Port Authority of Piraeus, Tel. 210 4226000-4, 210 4593140
Port Authority of Katapola, Tel. 22850 71259
Port Authority of Naxos, Tel. 2285 22300
For more information: Pan-Hellenic Union of Camping Owners, www.panhellenic-camping-union.gr
For your transport, Tel. 0030 6972 189488, 0030 2285051557
PORT AUTHORITY OF NAXOS Tel. 003022850 22300
MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY Tel. 0030 22850 51600
CENTRE OF HEALTH Tel. 0030 22850 51506
AIRPORT OF NAXOS Tel. 0030 22850 23969
Sources: www.cyclades-tour.gr, www.travelcyclades.gr