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The Island of Chalki (Halki)

West of Rhodes Island lies a chain of islets, the biggest of them being Chalki, ideal for a relaxing and rejuvenating holiday. A low profile island with an ancient history, inhabited since the prehistoric times, taking its name from the copper mines (Chalkos is Greek for copper) that were in use on the island in antiquity. The buildings bear the signs of prosperity the island knew, during the second half of the 19th c., as trade growth and sponge harvesting business brought wealth to the locals. After 1912, the Italians occupied the Dodecanese group of islands (Chalki included) until 1948 when they became part of the Greek State.
As you approach Chalki’s natural harbor, you will be impressed by the picture-perfect and colorful Nimporio (or Emporeio) – the island’s only town, built by the harbor and up the hillside. There are very few cars on Chalki, but you probably won’t need them, as distances are short.
Strolling the Island
Strolling along the town’s picturesque little alleys, you’ll pass by the neoclassical stone-built two or three-storey houses, which possess the most amazing yards: their floor is paved with chochlakia i.e. black and white pebbles arranged in impressive mosaic patterns. The colored walls and roof tops, add to the locale’s magic.
Walking up the hill towards Chorio, you will find the island’s deserted medieval village, which was inhabited until 1870, with the locals gradually settling by the harbor, as in the late 19th c. piracy ceased to be a threat.
The Windmills of Chalki, also situated on the hilltop, is a sight not to be missed, as they are an important part of the island’s history. Even though they have been renovated, they are not in working order anymore.
There are many churches, country chapels and monasteries you can visit oo Chalki Island, such as Panagia Choriani church, which should definitely be on your list, as there are incredible murals inside it. The views from that location are quite impressive.
Beaches – Water Sports
The island of Chalki, is blessed with both sandy and pebbly shores, just pick the one suiting your taste. You can reach them by bus, car or by boat, if there’s no access by road. If you’re a family with young children, the ideal beach for you would be Pontamos beach (SE) due to its shallow waters and the fine white sand. Up North, you can visit Areta, Agios Georgios, Dyo Gyaloi, and Pyrgos; these beautiful pebbly beaches can be reached only by boat. Take a trip also to Kania (E) and Ftenagia (SE) beaches. To the South, visit pebbly Giali beach and Tracheia peninsula, where you will discover two lovely beaches, on a walking distance from each other, one pebbly and one sandy, forming a stretch of land, resembling a bottle neck.
For the diving lovers, there is a diving school where you can get the gear you need or take lessons by an experienced trainer. You will be amazed at the incredible clarity of the waters around Chalki, which remain transparent up to a 40-metre depth. Explore the seabed, the underwater caves, and the shipwrecks in the area, and enjoy the activities for both children and grownups alike. You can also board one of the local boats offering day trips to the islets east of Chalki, or take your private boat and explore the pristine waters of the area.


The Island of Kastelorizo

On the easternmost edge of Greece floats one of the smallest and prettiest islands of the Dodecanese complex, Kastellorizo. Called also by its name in the ancient times, i.e. Megisti, the island has a long history starting in the early Neolithic era. Its ancient name lasted until the Middle Ages, when the knights of St John built Castello Rosso on the reddish rock above the port. Obviously, it is to that high castle with the double walls and the battlements the name of the island is owed.
The palmy days started for Kastellorizo at the end of the 19th c., thanks to fishing and shipping. Recalling those days, there are the beautiful mansions along the coast. The 9 sq km big island became a tourist attraction after the Academy Award winning film “Mediterraneo” was shot there, some 20 years ago.
Upon arriving, you will be left speechless by the harbor beauty, a reward for your long journey. Two or three-storied neoclassical mansions, built amphitheatrically, reflect their colorful facades on the sea surface, while the minaret and the red dome of the mosque, built in 1755, will definitely catch your attention, no less than the picturesque fishing boats will.
Scenic Kastelorizo village is the island’s only populated area. Cobblestone alleys and traditional colorful mansions with wooden and iron balconies, beautify your walk through the village’s two quarters, Pigadia and Chorafia.
Swimming in Kastelorizo
While on the island, you are not likely to come across the typical golden Greek beaches you see on postcards. However, platforms and diving boards will help you enjoy the beautiful and clear waters. Find some at Plakes, Faros, Kavos or, even, at the harbor.
Boating to Galazio Spilaio (Blue Cave), the biggest and most spectacular of all sea caves in Greece, known worldwide for its rich “decoration” of stalactites, is also a fascinating sight you wouldn’t want to miss. The sunray reflections on the water, light the stalactites, creating a unique spectacle. Situated on the SE part of the island, the cave is allegedly inhabited by monachus monachus seals. If you go further south, you will find Kolones, another impressive cave.


The Island of Nysiros

Nisyros is one of the most beautiful Aegean islands, still untouched by the tourism growth. Part of the Dodecanese group of islands and situated between Kos and Tilos, the island extends over a surface of 41km, with a coastline, aproximatly 28km long. It can be reached by ferry from Piraeus, Kos and Rhodes.
According to mythology, it was created during the war between the Gods and the Giants. Poseidon chased the Giant Polyvotis down to Kos, where he cut a part of it and threw it to his enemy, sinking him forever at the bottom of the Aegean Sea. The legendary rock is the modern Nisyros and it is said that the volcano explosions are the angry breathing of the defeated Giant. These explosions shaped the island, which is considered to be the youngest volcanic center in Greece, still active – along with the volcanoes of Milos, Santorini and Methana. During antiquity the island thrived on obsidian commerce, extracted by the inhabitants of Nisyros, from the nearby island, Gyali.
Nisyros’ villages
Mandraki: Apart from being the capital of the island, Mandraki is also its harbor. It is one of the biggest villages of Nisyros with many available tourism facilities. Enjoying a stroll around the exquisite pebbled narrow streets and squares (most typical of all being the plateia Delfinion [square of Dolphins]), and taking a close look at the white or colored two-storied houses with wooden balconies, is quite an experience. The houses are made of volcano rocks and insulated with pumice-stone. The nightlife is not very intense, allthough you will surely have a good time in Mandraki, where there are little tavernas and some bars.
Emporios: Located 8km east of Mandraki, Emporios stands out for its house architecture. It flourished during the 20th c. when it had many inhabitants, shops (blacksmith workshops, groceries, tailor-shops, coffee shops) and skilled stone makers. During the ‘60s a great part of the population moved to the village seaport, Palloi.
Nikia: Porta is the main square of Nikia, where the church of Eisodion tis Theotokou (Presentation of Virgin Mary) is located; this is one of the most gorgeous churches of Greece! The square has an ellipsoid shape and pebbled floor designed by Paschalis Paschalakis, a famous artisan of the 19th c., born in Nisyros. Walking through the village, you will find some nice spots looking at the volcano. Nikia is located 14km southeast from Mandraki.
Sights worth seeing in Nysiros:
• The volcano. You can walk in the crater while watching the boiling holes. The most recent explosion took place in 1888, shaping a cylindrical pipe of volcano elements, with a diameter of at least 25m. Polyvotis, the largest crater of the volcano, has a diameter of 260m and a depth of 30m. There are five younger craters, in the same area, the largest being “Stefanos” with a diameter of 30m and a depth of the same size. The volcano surrounds a valley (caldera) 2,400m long and 950m wide.
• Visit the volcanological museum in Nikia, at the edge of the caldera, offering a unique view. It is well-equipped with samples and pictures of rocks, maps, diagrams, photographs, models of volcanoes, computer simulations and much more. Thanks to the technology, you will learn about the volcanic activity of the area through three dimensional moving images.
• Paleokastro, a classical period acropolis of the ancient city, is still in very good condition due to its high quality construction, representing one of the best fortification works of the ancient times, basaltic andesite (volcanic rock), one of the hardest rocks in the world. The main gate is composed by well-hewn stone blocks with a perfect fit of the connecting surfaces, with the total length of the fortification being quite long, as it surrounds the entire land-lubber site of the rocky hill above the south end of Mandraki.
• The monastery of Panagia Spiliani was built at the top of a hill northwest of Mandraki, with the biggest part of the monastery built in a cave. The cave is divided into two churches; the north, which is dedicated to the Kimisi tis Theotokou (the Assumption) and the south, Agios Charalambos (Saint Charalambos)
• The Castle of the knights of St. John in Mandraki, was built high on a rock at an altimeter of 150m., stands as a reminder of the Knights of St. John having stepped foot on the island and constructing -in 1315- a magnificent castle, nestling the Monastery of Panagia Spiliani, which is dedicated to Kimisi of Theotokou (the Assumption)
• Panaghia Listiriotissa, located in a cave near the village
• The medieval castle of Pantoniki, which has a unique view. The Taksiarches church (11th or 13th c.) is built on the top of the castle, with remarkable frescoes and icons to see.
• The monasteries of Panagia Kyra (7.5km SE) and Stavros (8.5km SW), on Argos location
• Thermal Spas: Located at Loutra, the spring (37° C water temperature) is ideal for rheumatisms, arthritis, skin infections, sciatica and etc.
Swimming in Nysiros
There are beautiful and unique beaches on the island of Nisyros that will offer you different experiences. Try Lefki beach or Gialiskari, Lyes, Paloi, Pachia Ammos, Katsouni, Agios Savas, Agia Irini, and Chochlakia, with striking black pebbles, ideal for windsurfing and snorkeling lovers!
The surrounding islets have so much to offer that an excursion is an absolute must! Not to miss: a daily excursion to Gyali, where the beach, in the southern part of the islet has red, volcano rocks, whereas the other one, in the northern part, has white sand.


The Island of Symi

Symi is a small island in the Dodecanese, visited either for holidays or as a one-day excursion from Rhodes island. Although Symi is visited by many people every summer, it has managed to keep its traditional ways intact. The most important sightseeing on Symi is the Holy Monastery of Panormitis, protector of the island. Located on the southern side of the island, this monastery is included in the program of all boat tours from Rhodes and can also be reached via boat from Symi Town. A must-do, is definitely a stroll around the picturesque town of Simi, called Chorio, with its medieval style and the fantastic sea view.
Even though Symi beaches are small coves, attracting many visitors to their picturesque scenery, some of which, like Nos, Emporios and Pedi, are organized with touristic facilities, such as taverns, bars, sunbeds and umbrellas. The rest of the beaches are secluded and ideal for privacy.
As the island is small and quiet, things to do are limited. It is ideal for total relaxation on the beach, swimming or sunbathing. Enjoy a day under the hot sun, while in the afternoon have lunch in the seaside taverns. In the evenings, the bars and cafes, await for you to have a cocktail under the stars.
Another enjoyable activity in Symi island, is hiking on the many old footpaths across the island which lead to tiny chapels, small settlements, secluded beaches and hilltops with breathtaking view to the sea. Hiking is best in autumn and spring, when the sun is not so hot.


The Island of Tilos

Tilos, still untouched by mass tourism, keeping its unspoiled charm thanks to its secluded location and raw natural ambiance, has emerged as an alternative holiday destination.
An island with rough, mountainous and verdant volumes, hills and plains where four hundred species of flowers and herbs germinate, inhabited by numerous species of rare birds. It has picturesque villages and charming beaches. This is the place where the last elephants of Europe lived: The dwarf-elephants appeared in the island 45,000 years ago and disappeared 4,000 years ago.
The whole island constitutes a vast ecological park, protected by international treaties. In ancient times, Tilos was famous for its herbs and became really prosperous in the classic period, during which the famous female poet, Irinna, lived on the island. The island extends over a surface of 63 km2, its coastline is 63 km long and it has 500 inhabitants. It can be reached by ferry from Rhodes.
Livadia, the island’s port, is the most touristic place, with Mikro Chorio (little village) being the most interesting one! Mikro Chorio is a ghost village, oozing a unique mysterious charm. Don’t give it a miss!
After exploring the island’s villages, you should head to the beach. Quite frankly, there’s luscious swimming to be had on Tilos beaches! As you’d expect from an unspoiled island, Tilos beaches are secluded and unorganized, ideal for those who seek privacy. Some of them are naturist beaches and can be easily accessible, either on foot or by the small local bus.

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