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Anafi:
Alternative and peaceful

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Anafi: Alternative and peaceful

At the southeastern tip of the Cyclades, in the shadow of renown Santorini, emerges Anafi, the rock that God Apollo made appear in the dark storm to give shelter to the Argonauts of Jason.

Drenched in the abundant Mediterranean light, charming and ethereal, Anafi carries memories of centuries of history: from the Dorians who first colonized it in the 8th century BC, to its heyday as a powerful city-state during the classical and Hellenistic era, and from its conquest by Romans, Byzantines, Venetians and Turks to the years of liberation and the Interwar period when Anafi became a place of exile for political prisoners. Monuments of the past are scattered all around the island, testifying to a place rich in narratives. Here, nature and people offer a welcoming embrace of tranquility and serenity where the greatness of simplicity meets the forgotten art of slow-living.

Routes & Attractions

A perfect example of craftsmanship in Anafi is Chora, the only settlement on the island.  Built amphitheatrically on a hillside right below the Venetian castle, it mesmerizes the visitor with its air of romance. Walk through the cobblestone serpentine alleys and along the white-painted domed roof houses with whitewashed courtyards and colorful bougainvilleas. Admire the picturesque windmills and beautiful chapels with Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons. The heart of Anafi beats here since the medieval years and locals as well as visitors meet in the summers for spontaneous feasts looking out to the Cretan Sea. The Archaeological Collection of Roman statues and sculptures excavated in Kastelli (ancient Anafi) is also exhibited here.

The archaeological site at the top of the hill "Kastelli", at a height of 327 meters, testifies to the glorious past of the ancient city-state of Anafi. Admire the ruins of the strong wall, outstanding remains of the necropolis with impressive tombs and Roman tombstones, such as the marble sarcophagus next to the picturesque chapel of Panagia Dokari. Nothing prepares the visitor for the view of the magnificent Kalamos, the jewel of Anafi and the most famous natural monument on the island. It is a huge limestone rock that rises 460 meters above the sea. This is the second largest monolith in the Mediterranean, after Gibraltar. Legend has it that anyone who approaches the rock feels drawn by a tremendous force.

On the highest peak of Kalamos stands the Monastery of Panagia Kalamiotissa, a small masterpiece of the 18th century, built on what used to be the site of a medieval fortress. A single-nave church with white dome and bell tower, a few cells and a cistern make up the most important religious monument of the island. The view of the endless blue of the Aegean from the monastery’s balcony is breathtaking.

Walking down from the rock, on the narrow isthmus that connects the peninsula of Kalamos with the main part of the island, is the historic Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi, one of the most important pilgrimages of the Cyclades dating back to the time of the Turkish occupation. It is built in a magnificent location, on the ruins of the ancient temple of Apollo Aiglitis, and, according to mythology, it was built by the Argonauts. The church was connected to Kasteli through the cobbled Iera Odos. Ancient building materials were used for the construction of the monastery, such as parts of the temple walls and columns.

Next stop, Drakontospilo, on the north side of Kalamos. It is one of the most unusual geological formations in Anafi, with an impressive 10-meter high opening. Its interior decoration in gold-green colors consists of columns, natural troughs, and stalactites. Access is only via a rough path.

Beaches & Activities

From the sandy, leeward beaches of the South to the rocky, isolated bays of the North, the island’s beaches are oases of tranquility, ideal for meditation in their crystal-clear turquoise waters.

The most popular and easily accessible are located on the southern coastline. The famous Roukounas, one of the largest sandy beaches in the Aegean next to a small plain of olive and prickly pear trees. Families flock to Klisidi, a bit further down from the port. This is a vast, exotic beach, very well organized, with shallow turquoise waters ideal for young swimmers. From here, a coastal path will lead you to Katsouni, a quiet little beach with crystal-clear waters and fine sand. Imposing and rocky, the exotic Flamourou has an eerie atmosphere. The pebbled beach of Megalos Potamos. The impressive Monastery (Prasies), in the shadow of the imposing monolith of Kalamos.  Agioi Anargyroi with their steep rocks and the homonymous chapel.

Anafi is an island ideal for tours and hiking. The inland of Anafi offers a network of 18 km of hiking trails, carved on ancient roads . Walk along the legendary path of Iera Odos that connects Kasteli with the Temple of Apollo since antiquity. In the countryside of Anafi, admire the famous houses called "katoikies", listed buildings that used to serve as cottages for shepherds and unique specimens of Aegean folk architecture.

Adventure enthusiasts follow the uphill path that connects the Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi with the Monastery of Kalamiotissa, at the top of Kalamos, with unhindered view of the endless blue.  The romantics spend the night with sleeping bags in the courtyard of the monastery to welcome the sunrise. Kalamos is also a popular climbing field for keen climbers and bouldering athletes.

Tastes of the island

Anafi produces excellent thyme honey and white wine, the famous strofyliatiko.  The island’s tavernas serve delicious local specialties such as local-bred goat in the oven, homemade pasta such as balothia and pitaria, tzonari (salted pork meat with onions and potatoes), tomato balls and the famous lobster spaghetti.

Don't forget to buy the traditional zaforisto, bread with cheese and saffron aroma. Anafi is known for its pastries, the melitera (sweet cheese pies with eggs and mizithra cheese), the gemista or skaltsounia of Anafi (thin dough crescents with honey, sesame and walnut), sisamomelo (sesame with honey and cinnamon) and the Cycladic koufeto (sweet bites of pure Anafi honey and almond kernels) that is perfect with Greek coffee served in cafes in Chora.

Traditions & Events

The island's festivals are the best place to experience the authentic hospitality of the people of Anafi. The largest and most important festival is held on the 7th and 8th of September for the celebration of Panagia Kalamiotissa, at the monastery of Zoodochos Pigi. Participants are offered lunch and dinner with local food.

The sporting events known as "Yakinthia" culminate with a big festival in August. The outdoor feast is set up in the square of Agios Nikolaos in Chora where locals and visitors enjoy dancing with live music, food, and plenty of wine.

Don't miss...

To circumnavigate the island. You will discover pristine beaches of amazing beauty and the islets opposite Anafi (Ftena, Pachia, Makra). The view of the towering vertical rocks of Kalamos from the sea is an awe-inspiring sight.

MAP OF ANAFI
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