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Wednesday, 05 March 2008 16:58

Anafi

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From a distance, Anafi, in the south-east comer of the Cyclades, looks like no more than an isolated rock in the ocean. According to the myths, the Argonauts sought refuge from a storm on the island.

anafi_monastery_kalamiotisa

Archaeological finds have demonstrated that Anafi was inhabited in antiquity. A road leads from the picturesque harbour of Aghios Nikolaos up to Bora, the only settlement of any size, built on a naturally amphitheatrical site in the centre of the island.The monastery of Our Lady "Kalamiotissa" (18th century, standing in the precinct of a temple of Apollo Aegietus), the Venetian castle near Hora, and the church of Athanasius are among the special sights. The beaches of Anafi, whether sandy or pebbly, are lapped by crystal-clear water. The local religious feasts are very lively, and so are the island dances. A few rooms are available for rent on the island for those who enjoy quiet holidays close to nature. anafi_map

There are infrequent ferry sailings for Piraeus. You should try: Thyme honey & flower honey, Anafi oil, brown bread, barley rolls, pickled caper leaves, fresh fish and lobster spaghetti.

Anafi was under Venetian control in the 13th century and was frequently raided by pirates both before and while the Turks were in control in the years that followed. The rest of the room was stuffed full of antiquities and there were also pictures of Anafi coins dating back to 300BC, with Apollo on one side and a bee on the other. The sculptures and other objects, like jars for storing grain and oil, are dated from Roman times (30BC to the 4th century AD), but there was also said to be evidence in situ of the island's occupation long before then.

anafi_harbor

anafi_mount_kalamos

At Katelimatsa there is the mound of what was presumably an ancient acropolis as well as the beginnings of the Sacred Way which once led to the Temple of Apollo. And on a hilltop up above at Kastelli, the Roman finds were made that are kept in that little room in Hora. It was a substantial settlement, but today there are just parts of walls remaining and some other artefacts left in place, like, for example, a precisely-detailed marble sarcophagus outside the cemetery. But the Romans don't fully define Kastelli. As always on Anafi, there is another dimension. The Dorians were the first people to build here, in the 8th century BC.

anafi_monastery_kalamiotisa

It is at the 2,500-year-old Temple of Apollo, at the base of Mt Kalamos, where the ancient world has left its most significant and impressive remains. The temple has since been adopted by Christians and chickens. The Christians arrived at the end of the 16th century and erected their cupola (in this case of the monastery of Zoodohos Pigi) in the midst of the giant Apollonian stone walls that you can still see today. Just outside the monastery, but within an old precinct of the temple that still stands, is a busy chicken run. It is not clear when they first arrived. But this must surely be the most exclusive and idyllic chicken coop in the world. No wonder the cocks never stop crowing. Behind the site, a path weaves up the giant slab of rock that is Mt Kalamos. At the top, invisible on the way up, is another monastery called Kalamiotissa. In the early stages of the climb, you sometimes have to look ahead and not at your feet, drawing the path in your mind like that straight line on paper in order to be able to follow it. The walk is exhilarating and punctuated every so often by a fiercesome whine. Ah! This explains the ancient coin. Originator of the sound is a bee, which approaches with a rapier-like forward antenna, and fortunately keeps pulling away at the last moment.

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Read 1783 times Last modified on Wednesday, 04 March 2009 11:31
More in this category: « Amorgos Andros »

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