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Kastellorizo:
Borderland beauty

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Kastellorizo: Borderland beauty

On the easternmost edge of Greece and Europe, Kastellorizo is a dream destination for those seeking peaceful holidays.

The tiny Megisti - as is the ancient name of the island - is just 1.25 nautical miles away from the coast of Asia Minor and due to its strategic location, it has been an important commercial hub and a "trophy" of many conquerors for centuries.

Romantic, atmospheric and cosmopolitan, resembling a well-designed set, Kastellorizo has deservedly earned its spot on the world map of tourist destinations after the huge promotion the island got from the Oscar-winning film Mediterraneo (1992) which was shot here.

Routes & Attractions

Walk along the cape and harbour, the waterfront and Chora. Explore the alleys with the small squares, the churches, the steps that lead to the plateaus and marvel at the imposing neoclassical mansions with the coats of arms. During the summer months you will surely see locals and visitors on sun loungers outside their homes and in front of the sea, enjoying the serenity of the island.

Among the buildings of the settlement, the Town Hall and the New Market stand out thanks to their Italian architecture. The Primary School, once the Sandrapeia Urban School financed by the benefactor Luke Sandrapes, is another building admired for its architectural beauty, reminiscent of the University of Athens gateway, the Propylaea. Standing next to the school is the metropolitan church of St. Constantinos and St. Helen with a courtyard made of polished pebbles and impressive columns from the temple of Lycean Apollo.

In the afternoon or early in the morning, it is worth walking up the almost 400 steps and taking the cobbled path leading to the stone-built monastery of St. George of the Mountain. Inside the Monastery is the catacomb of Saint Charalambos with a small spring that gushes water.

At the top of the cliff is Castelo Rosso, the castle of the Crusader Knights of St. John's Order dating back to 14th century. From there you can enjoy the view of Kastellorizo and the Turkish coast.

Below the Castle you’ll find the Lycian Tomb, built in the 4th century BC, a symbol of worship to Lycean Apollo from the city of Lycia in Asia Minor, where Apollo was worshipped as a wolf.

The island is ideal for hiking trails ranging from 1.5 to 5.5 km; all paths are accessible on foot and the old paths remain to this day. Start early and enjoy a journey in time walking along the 19-kilometer coastline.

To enjoy a romantic sunset head to the chapel of Agia Marina, located in the archaeological site of Paleokastro. This is the area of the island’s ancient, fortified acropolis, built on the limestone hill that was considered an advantageous location for the troops. At the edge of the hill is the church of Agios Nikolaos and in the centre, the church of Panagia with surrounding buildings where the women of the island stayed overnight when they went up for pilgrimage.

The Megisti Museum is an attraction itself, housed in an impressive building in Konaki, which is part of the medieval Castle. It includes exhibits from the ancient, Byzantine and modern era. The traditional costumes and jewellery of unparallel beauty highlight the island’s identity.

Walk towards the old Governor’s house and the old mosque, where the folklore museum is now housed, to find the stairs and swimming platforms from where you can enjoy a dive into the sea.

Climb the steps to Agios Georgios Square and walk through the area of Horafia to explore the settlement of Mandraki, that was once the island’s second harbour and shipyard.

Beaches & Activities

There are no sandy beaches in Kastellorizo. However, its crystal-clear waters are ideal for diving from rocks or small platforms found in many parts of the island. The most popular spots are the two ends of the settlement: next to the Port Authority, and under the vaulted building where the workshop of the sculptor Alexandros Zygouris is housed. The artist has also created an impressive outdoor sculpture that you will meet along the small path to the sea.

Do not miss the opportunity to swim in the unique Blue Cave, one of the most famous attractions of the island, with its huge dome its magical turquoise waters. It is the largest sea cave in Greece. If you stay a little longer and you are lucky, you may see the seals relaxing on the small sandy beach at the far end of the cave.

Take a boat tour to the impressive Plakes, as well as Kavos and the Lighthouse with the reddish-brown rocks, where you can swim off the rocks or the makeshift piers.

Tastes of the island

Try the "katoumaria" the traditional delicious handmade pies sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Sweeten up with "strava", the syrupy rolls of dough sheet filled with walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Don't forget to taste the local frozen soumada.

Enjoy the local seafood dishes with fresh fish, grilled, fried or cooked with spaghetti, orzo or rice. Magiatika, swordfish, sea bream and especially shrimp are the most common in Kastellorizo. Don’t miss the specialties of the island and try some goat, stuffed with rice or bread and "salantourmasi" (onions with rice filling). 

Traditions & Events

Easter on the island is prayerful and mystic and culminates with a great feast after the Resurrection that can last for days. On May 21st, during the celebration of the patron saints of the island, Constantinos and Heleni, a feast is held in the metropolitan church. Another feast with the procession of the saint’s icon takes place on August 15th , the celebration of the Virgin Mary. The feast of Prophitis Elias on July 20th is very special; the locals revive the customs on the eve, getting wet and falling into the sea with their clothes, thus honouring the once sole priest of the island who fell into the sea for joy wearing his clothes when he saw the return of the people of Kastellorizo at the end of the war.

Each year, festivities accompany the anniversary of the island's liberation on September 13th.

Don’t miss...

Take a boat tour to the small island of Ro (or Ai-Giorgis), where you can enjoy your swim. And of course, don’t miss a visit to the monument of Ro, where the heroic "Lady of Ro", Despina Achladioti lived alone from 1942 until 1982 raising the Greek flag every day.

MAP OF KASTELLORIZO
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