Sikinos

Sikinos
Sikinos is a small island with few but extremely clean beaches. The best time for relaxing at the main village, Hora (what else?) is after sunset. If you’re on the island in the early autumn observe the local practice of squid fishing using phosphorescent hooks. After such fishing expeditions, especially if there is a good catch, there is usually a meal, wine and music.
Sikinos (ancient Oinoi) is one of the smaller islands of the Cyclades. Located in the southern part of the complex between Ios and Folegandros. It has an area of 416 km2 and a population of 238 inhabitants.

The south side is smooth while the north-west is a steep cliff 280 meters in which the town is built on. The island produces fine honey and olive oil and famous wine in the ancient years.
The ancient city is located on the hill of Agia Marina. In Roman and Byzantine times Sikinos fell into obscurity and weakened because of pirate raids. Followed Venetians (Duchy of Naxos) Russians and Turks. The reunification of the island with Greece came in 1829.
The town of Sikinos (Castle) is an excellent example of Cycladic architecture with the church Pantanassa at the center. Main attractions of the island is the castle of the Zoodochos Pigi Fountain (1690) and the Diocese of Roman funerary monument monumental facade (2nd-3rd century AD.) retrofitted into a Christian church.
At the bay resort Alopronia ther is a small fishing pier and shelter. The beaches (Agios Georgios, Agios Panteleimon, Dialiskari) and the unique Black Cave are a magnet for today’s visitor of quiet holiday. Ferry link Sikinos to Piraeus and the Western Cyclades.

Ancient Name
Sikinos has been producing lots of grapes and wine since the ancient times. This is why the ancient byname of Sikinos was Oinoi, since “oinos” means “wine” in Greek
The name is dated back to prehistoric times. The first reference of “Sikinos” is made by Solon in 604 B.C.

Mythology
This man’s name is Thoas. He is the king of the island of Lemnos. He is hiding in a trunk.
This is how he fled his home island, as women of Lemnos revolted and slaughtered all males.
The trunk drifted all the way to Oinoi. Here Thoas met a nymph and had a son whom he named Sikinos. The island was named after this man, Sikinos, son of Thoas.

History
During ancient times the island was believed to be Ionian. From archaeological and historical remnants scattered all over Sikinos it is assumed that the island has been inhabited since the prehistoric times. It fell into the hands of successive conquerors until, after a brief occupation by the Ottomans, it became part of Greece in 1828.
The oldest references to Sikinos are made by:
• Apollonius Rhodius
• Plinius
• Xenagoras
• Strabo
• Stephanus of Byzantium

The Sikinos Festivities summer festival is organized every summer. The program includes exhibitions, performances and concerts. The festival is a collaboration of the municipality of Sikinos and the Media dell’ Arte creative team. Organizers aspire for the festival to contribute to the awareness about local culture for both locals and visitors.

Documentary Days is the open-air mobile film festival that takes place every summer in Sikinos and Folegandros.

Sikinos Festivities and Documentary Days are the cultural leg of a much broader initiative under the name Isolario project.
Sikinos is a pioneer in planning and implementing this project, which:
• registers, protects and communicates the cultural, social and environmental character of the islands
• supports and promotes alternative tourism and creates infrastructure in order to support cultural life round the year on the island
• attempts to establish constant channels of communication among the Greek islands and among fellow islands of the European Union.

Festivals
The Dormition of Virgin Mary (15/8)
The Exaltation of the Holy Cross (14/9)
The Entry of Virgin Mary (21/11)
The Lifegiving Font (Zoodohos Pigi) (2/5)
The Holy Unmercenaries day (1/7)
The Sunday of Orthodoxy, also day of celebration for the Pantanassa church
The Holy Transfiguration (6/8)
The Agios Panteleimonas (27/8)
The Navity of Virgin Mary (8/9)

The local feasts are celebrated very diligently here!
Customs depend on the special occasion and everything has its significance: the church is meticulously prepared, women cook endless quantities of first class local dishes, houses are decorated. After the holy mass and the blessings everybody is invited to lunch where everybody is invited to eat, drink, sing and dance.

Sikinos has three settlements: Alopronia, Horio and Kastro.

Alopronia
Alopronia is the name of the small and tranquil port of Sikinos. The largest beach of Sikinos, Livadi, is adjacent to Alopronia, where one can enjoy excellent swimming or a delicious meal at the tavernas by the seaside. A supermarket, a hotel and rooms to let are available in Alopronia. A coffee at the coffee shops along the pier berofe the evening stroll is highly recommended. Bars are also available for a night drink. Take the bus to Hora and Episkopi temple. Take the boat for excursions to the secluded beaches all around the island.

Hora
Hora of Sikinos (i.e. capital city) lies 3,5 Km up the road from Alopronia. Hora consists of two settlements, facing each other, only a few hundred metres away: Horio (i.e. the village) and Kastro (i.e. the castle).

Horio
Horio, the oldest settlement, is a small labyrinth of alleys, old houses, quaint arches, passageways, hidden corners, blossomed orchards and stone steps. Once you get there do take heed of the silent sound of an old, long-gone world. This sound is not to be disregarded: it is the quintessence of what Sikinos has to offer.

Kastro
Kastro, built on the edge of a 280 m. high cliff, is a fortressed settlement (hence the name) of the 15th century. Here beats the island’s heart: shops, cafes, tavernas and the central -or more accurately the only- square are the core of the island’s social life. Wander around to discover old stone mansions, the golden-painted wood-carved temple in Pantanassa church and old icons at the Byzantine Collection.

The Zoodohos Pigi monastery (Chryssopigi)
Female monastery built in 1690. The first king of Greece, Otto, terminated its operation in 1834. Chryssopigi was the last resort for the inhabitants each time Sikinos was raided by the pirates: neither the heavy wooden gate nor the high walls, crypts, secret passages, battlements, ramparts, breakout exits toward the cliff averted raping, slaughtering, and annihilation of the defenseless peasants. The monastery can be visited every afternoon & evening.

Episkopi temple
A temple-shaped funerary building of the 2d-3d century AD. It is the most peculiar and interesting monument of Sikinos. Located in the wilderness of the mainland, Episkopi temple is surrounded by a complex of Byzantine chapels, cells, ancient ruins, wall stones and fragments of marble sculptures.
Enigmatic and silent, it was initially thought to be a temple of Pythios Apollo but the strange building with the underground vaulted crypts has been identified as belonging to the type of the roman mausoleums, burial monuments of the 2d-3d AD.
Anyhow, around 17th century the building was transformed into a domed christian church. The uniqueness of Episkopi lies in the fact that it preserves the basic characteristics of both its Roman and its Post-byzantine past and is a standing monument of the site’s long history.

Pantanassa church
The main temple of Sikinos was built in 1787. Inside one can see the gold-painted, wood-carved temple.

Byzantine collection
The small museum is located in Hora, main square. It contains the island’s Post-byzantine icons: after the fall of Constantinople many painters fled to Crete. Until the 16th century they developed a style of icon painting called School of Crete. The icons of the Sikinos Byzantine collection belong to this school.

Folklore museum
Located in Horio, at the old oil-press building.

Mavri Spilia (black cave)
The largest cave of Sikinos and one of the largest in Cyclades. It is located on the northern side of the island, under the Crryssopigi monastery and can be accessed only by boat.

How to get to Sikinos Island
By boat from Piraeus port.
Tel of Piraeus port authorities: Tel. 0030 210 4226000-4, 210 4511310-17

Useful phone numbers for Sikinos Island:
Sikinos Port Authorities: Tel. 0030 22860 51121
Sikinos Police: Tel. 0030 22860 51222
Medical centre in Sikinos: Tel. 0030 22860 51211
Citizen Service Center: Tel. 0030 22860 51074, 51196
Town Hall: Tel. 0030 22860 51228
Port Station: Tel. 0030 22860 51121
Police: Tel. 0030 22860 51222
Multi – Clinic – Dental: Tel. 0030 22860 51211
Gas Station: Tel. 0030 22860 6972 320737
Travel Agency: Tel. 0030 22860 51168
Hellenic Post: Tel. 0030 22860 51239

Banking transactions carried out with ATMs National Bank of Greece.

Sikinos has Heliport for emergency situations & free Wireless Internet (wi-fi).

Official website: www.sikinos.gr

Beaches
The beaches of Sikinos are to be found in small coves, in protected bays, at the feet of rocky cliffs, at the mouths of small gorges. They are small and most of them are secluded and wild.
Alopronia, Agios Georgios and Dialiskari can be accessed by car. For the rest you either take the caique or you walk.
Marred by development? There is a tendency in Cyclades to construct useless and harmful roads leading to the most secluded and unspoiled spots, thus sacrificing both the magic of the landscape and the delicate flora and fauna of the place. This is NOT the case in Sikinos.
Visitors should help and encourage locals to protect their island by not demanding facilities that alter, and eventually destroy, the so far unspoilt natural environment of Sikinos.

Trekking
The best part of Sikinos is reserved for the trekker: ancient relics, secluded beaches, remote caves, high cliffs and passages through gorges, byzantine temples and a flora and fauna protected by the Natura 2000 European network.
The protection of the environment as well as the preservation and maintenance of the footpaths ranks high in the agenda of the Sikinos Municipality.
A good way to start is by obtaining the Map of Sikinos (pub. Terrain).
The network of the footpaths is spread all over Sikinos. Here are just some typical routes:

Kastro – Alopronoia
Take the old cobblestone footpath from Hora to Alopronia. The path starts behind the old Primary School, and ends behind “Themonies” (the night club of Sikinos). Cross the asphalt road and follow another footpath to Alopronia.

Kastro – Episkopi – Agios Panteleimonas – Alopronia
A hardcore 13 km distance, around 4 hours’ walk.

Kastro – Malta
Go to Chryssopigi monastery, walk past the heliport until Profitis Ilias chapel and start descending towards Malta beach (6, 5 km, less than 2 hours).

Text and Photos by www.sikinos.gr. Special thanks for photographs by Terry Harris, Elias Eliadis, Kassapis Ermis, Kostas Hampipis, Karlota Daska, Giannis Kotsis.