A charming and quiet island
The island of Antikythera, between the islands of Kythera and Crete, became world famous by the wreck of an ancient merchant ship, discovered in 1900 by sponge fishermen near the northeastern coast. It is the famous Antikythera Shipwreck from which very important archaeological finds came to light. The journey to Antikythera has its own charm; quiet simple life, good food, swimming, sightseeing and hiking in a beautiful natural environment.
The island of Antikythera is located southeast of Kythera and northwest of Crete. The Strait of Antikytherabetween the southern tip of the island and the northwestern tip of Crete has a width of 16 nautical miles. The island has an area of 20 sq km. It is oblong in shape with a length of 11 km and a width of 4 km. The highest peak called Plagara is at 378 meters. The coastline is 24 km in length, forming two large bays in the north. On the island operates a research center of the Hellenic Ornithological Society. The scientists study 250 species of birds on the island and the rocky islets near the coast.
The residents are 44. During the summer with guests, the population increases significantly. Most live in Potamos, the capital and port on the north coast. There are several scattered settlements; no wonder, since the inhabitants were much more in the past.
The island is connected by ferry Piraeus – Kastelli of Kissamos in western Crete. The trip takes 9.5 hours from Piraeus, 4.5 hours from Neapolis of Laconia, 2 hours from Kythera and 2 hours from Kastelli.
The island has a helipad. The existing roads are good enough. Those coming by yachts can anchor in the bay of Potamos, which is a safe haven.
There are rooms to let; also a guest house of the Community. We can stay in the countryside provided that we respect the traditions and habits of the inhabitants and the natural environment. At the two taverns in the capital Potamos will taste traditional dishes and local wine. We can be served in two cafes-grocery stores.
The island is also called Tsitigoto, from the name Cerigoto given by the Venetians, or even, Lee (Lioi), perhaps from the Aegila, the ancient name of the island. The island was of great strategic importance due to the position between Kythera and Crete. It flourished from 400 BC depended on the city Phalasarna located at the northwestern Cape Gramvoussa of Crete. The city was a pirate base and it seems that the island was a milestone for the protection from the north. Phalasarna was destroyed by the Romans during their campaign against the pirates in 69 to 67 BC and Aegila had the same fate.
In the area of Kastro are the ruins of the ancient Aegila. Lower, in the small bay of Xeropotamos, are the remains of the harbor and of a sanctuary of Apollo. The earthquake that shook southern Greece in 365 AD, also had an effect on the Antikythera. The level of the sea and the coastline changed and the land was elevated two to tree meters.
The island was inhabited again after the 4th century AD. At some areas the remains of Byzantine settlements have been found. In 1204 the island was occupied by the Venetians, like many other islands. The Venetians named Tsirigo (Cerigo) the island of Kythera and Tsirigoto (Cerigoto) the island of Antikythera. They remained until 1800 and Tsirigoto became a refuge for many people who left from Crete and Peloponnese after the Ottoman conquest. In 1815 together with the other Ionian Islands it was dominated by England and used as an exile place for the radicals of the islands. In 1864 the Ionian Islands were united with Greece. Cretans came once again to the island after a new insurrection in Crete. Most of today’s residents come from Sphakia Crete. In the early 20th century the inhabitants were 334, but many fled abroad as immigrants.
Round the island – The beaches
Center of life is Potamos, port and capital at the head of a bay that goes deep into the north coast, forming a safe anchorage. Of particular interest is the watermill of Andronicus, traditional building maintained throughout. Strolling around we will also see five windmills, built in the 19th century. There are seven churches on the island. In Potamos Aghios Charalambos, Aghios Nickolaos at the entrance of the harbor and the twin church dedicated to Panagia (Virgin Mary) and Aghios Dionyssios; in the settlement Pateriana Aghios Konstantinos, in Katsaneviana Aghios Georgios and in Galaliana Aghios Myron, protector of the island. High on the hill is Prophetes Elias.
We can swim at the beach Chalarain Potamos, as well as the beach of Xeropotamos east of the capital. The area of Xeropotamos has great archaeological interest. Over a small bay is Kastro (Castle), the ancient city of the Hellenistic era. The city spread over an area of 300 acres and lived there until the 1st century BC. The walls were built in 300 BC and in many places reach a height of six meters. The archaeological research continues every summer in August and September. Currently, visitors are guided by the archaeologists. In the bay of Xeropotamoswas the port of the ancient city. We can see some of the points where the ships were tied. In the cove are the ruins of a sanctuary of Apollo; here a headless statue of the god was found. In the rock is carved a shipsheds, a sloping space to store a pirate ship or warship; it is one of the few preserved intact in the Greek area. Interesting are also the remains of the Byzantine era. In Charchaliana, near Potamos, a settlement was created in the 4th or 5th century, which lasted until the 7th or 8th century. Graves and wine presses are carved into the rock. Byzantine remains also exist elsewhere. One of the most beautiful areas of the island is Kamarela, southwest of Potamos, in the middle of the west coast. It is a magical little cove surrounded by cliffs with an amazing sea.
At the southern tip of the island, Cape Apolytara, is one of the most historic Greek lighthouses. The Apolytara Lighthouse was built in 1926 and is an architectural monument. There were lighthouse keepers until 1987. In 2004 following a proposal by the Community of the island the Navy decided to fully preserve the building and manned lighthouse keepers again. It is better to go by sea. There are paths that start at Katsaneviana or at Galaliana but be very careful along the way.
Activities - Natural life, swimming and hiking.
Local Products - Excellent thyme honey.
Εvents - The festival of Saint Myron, protector of the island, 16 and 17 August..