Cyclades: Impressions, pictures and important travel details

Cyclades Islands

The Cyclades form a cluster of Islands in the south Aegean Sea. They are Mykonos, Delos, Tinos, Syros, Andros, Naxos,Ios, Paros, Thera or Santorini, Kea, Yarns, Kythnos, Siphnos, Milos, Kimolos, Folegandros, Slkinos, Serifos, Amorgos, Anaphi and several smaller Islands. In addition to this, many small islets are scattered the length and breadth of the Aegean. All are notable for their picturesque scenery, their clean seas and beaches, their small towns and villages, many of which are interesting architecturally, and their historical remains, which cover all periods (prehistoric, classical, Hellnistic and Roman, Byzantine, Frankish, Turkish, and modern). The Aegean islands can offer the traveller a wide variety of types of entertainment, from the noisy international and cosmopolitan centres to the idyllic atmosphere still to be found in isolated villages.

Delos

Not far from Mykonos lies Delos, the island of light, the rock which was once the most splendid religious, artistic and commercial centre of ancient Hellenism, mythical birthplace of the God Apollo and the Goddess Artemis. Today Delos is a vast conglomeration of ruins. Among them the most interesting are those of: the Agora, the treasuries of the various cities, the Stoa of Antigonos, the theatre, the Terrace of the Lions, the Sanctuary of the bulls, the Sanctuary of the bulls, the Sanctuary of Apollo, the Dean’s house and many houses with the most beautiful mosaic floors, representations of dolphins, a Satyr, and that of Dionysus with a thyrsus in one hand and a cymbal in the other astride a panther.

Mykonos

is one of the mcs characteristic of the Cycladic islands, with its white-washed houses, hundreds of churches, windmills, and stair-like narrow streets. Since the second wor d war, Mykonos has become a tourist centre of international fame. Foreigners find the island: fascinating, with plenty to do both in the daytime and at night.

Andros

Once called Hydroussa, is the most northerly of the Cyclades. It has mineral springs. The chief town of the island is called Andros, but it is also known as Kato Kastro or Chora. It has many attractive popular houses. The small museum in the town contains mainly ancient incriptions from Palaiopolis, built on the site of ancient Andros. The most interesting summer resorts are Apikia (or Sariza), Batsi and Corthion.

 

Tinos

Close to Mykonos is another pretty little Cycladic island, Tinos, with characteristic buildings of popular architecture, dovecots which are truly works of art. Its chief attraction,though, is the white marble Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation, the Lourdes of Greece. Near the Church are a picture gallery with works by Tinian painters and an archaeological museum with finds from the ancient temple of Amphitriti and Poseidon and from chance discoveries all over the island.

 

Syros

Is one of the most thriving Aegean islands, both economically and culturally. Its chief town, Hermoupolis, capital of the Cyclades, still retains the refinements of a maritime and industrial centre. Its noe-classical buildings, such as the library, the town hall, the old “Apollo” theatre and others, are impressive for their architectural features. Syros has also fascinating seaside and mountainaous villages.

Naxos

Is the largest, most fertile of the Cyclades. It has vineyards, olive-groves and orchards and also grows vegetables. It also has emery and marble quarries. Naxos town is a small, picturesque town with a strong medieval character. Not far from the town are the ruins of a Myceanaean settlement and an impressive gate from the Temple of Apollo, built in the 6th century BC. The museum of Naxos houses a rich collection of finds of Cycladic and Mycenaean times. The villages of the islands are quiet and beautiful resorts.

 

 

Paros

Is one of the largest of the Cycladic islands. The ancient Cretans are thought to have inhabited it. In ancient times Paros was famous for its marble which, together with that of Moun Pendeli in Attica, was what sculptors of those days used to create their superb masterpieces that today embelish many of the world’s museums. Paros also had a rich also had a rich intellectual and artistic tradition, as the birthplace of Scopas and Agoracritus, sculptors; Nikanor and Arkesilaos, painters; and of the celebrated satirical poet Archilochos. Today Paros is well-known for its wonderful Church of Panaghia “Ekatontapyliani” (Holy Virgin of the Hundred Gates), or “Katapoliani”. The main town of the island is Paroikia. South of it is the interesting ancient “Grotto of the Nymphs” and a little way beyond the ruins of a Temple of Asclépios.

 

Santorini

THERA, or Santorini, has attracted the world’s attention in recent years because of the amazing descoveries of the archaeological excavations. At the south end of the island, near the village of Acrotiri, a whole prehistoric Minoan city has been dug up, complete with its squares, streets and two-storied houses. The excavations began in 1967 and are still going on. So far, archaeologists have uncovered finds that attest to a great civilization that was destroyed by a volcanic eruption. What really stands out from among these wonderful discoveries are the unique frescoes. They depict Springtime, Antelopes, Apes, Ladies, a fisherman, and many others, all of which have been painstakingly removed from Santorini and set in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. Apart from the ruins, one can also visit Phira, the pretty township of Thera, with its white washed houses and panoramic views from the terraces. Little Kameni, the tiny isle which surfaced in the middle of the bay in 1573 A.D., still has a smouldering volcano in its centre. Anafi is the last of the South- West Cyclades. It has only 400 inhabitants and nearly as many churches. There is also a castle, and a monastery built on the site of a temple of Apollo.

 

Amorgos

Amorgos, which lies to the south-east of Naxos, is one of the prettiest islands in the Aegean. It has a population of 2,000, and is notable for its very marked Cycladic architecture. There are lots of things to see a Venetian castle, for instance, and the famous Convent of the Presentation of the Virgin, or Chozoviotissa, dating from Byzantine times. It contains a miraculous icon. Landings are made at Katapola, and the island’s capital lies on a hill above, accessible by track. The remains of ancient Minoa may be seen near Katapola. Aigiali, second port of the island, has an acropolis which protected the ancient harbour, and the remains of a temple of Athena built into a church.

There are also a number of small islands which lie between Naxos, los and Amorgos. Donousa has four settlements, and significant remains from the geometric period in the Cyclades have been found there. Koufonisia (consisting of Pano Koufonisi and Kato Koufonisi) have ancient and Byzantine remains, while Herakleia was actually quite well known in ancient times. There is also a cave with rather impressive stalactites, and Herakleia is one of the larger of these islands. Schoinousa has 200 inhabitants and a few ancient ruins to show. Karos, however, is inhabited only by sheep and their shepherds.

 

Also in the Western Cyclades are the islands of Kea, Kythnos, Serifos and Sifnos. Sifnos is notable for its blindingly white houses and streets, and also for the extent to which local pottery has developed as a craft. At Apollonia, Vathy, Exambela, Katavatis, and Chrysopigi Byzantine churches and monasteries, ancient walls and medieval ruins may be seen.

 

Ios

Is a small island between Paros and Santorini (Thera). It has some small hotels, private rooms in houses and tavernas specialising in “kakavia” a kind of Greek bouillabaisse, los has some marvelous beaches and offers a quiet and interesting stay. It has also remains of ancient times and some 400 small c^hapels. In the village of Plakoto the inhabitants display an ancient tomb which they claim to be the tomb of Homer.

Milos

Is the isle of Aphrodite and the unique catacombs. Along with Kimolos, Antimilos and Folegandros, Milos forms the western edge of the Cyclades. This is the place in which the famous statue of Aphrodite was discovered during the last century and spirited off to the Louvre in Paris, where it still remains. Near the village of Klima are the most important Christian catacombs in the wo-ld after those in Rome. They were built in the 1st century A.D., are 200 m. long, and their labyrinthine galleries contain 294 graves in the walls and floor, all decorated with symbols and frescoes.

 

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