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Friday, 14 March 2008 13:48

Kea

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This exceptionally picturesque island lies close to the south-east coast of Attica. The mountain masses, which are encountered in most of the Cyclades, are broken up by small valleys sparsely planted with vines and fruit-trees and run right down to the sea, opening out into pretty little bays.

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On the western side of the island is Aghios Nikolaos bay, and deep within it the port of Korissia, which is considered to be one of the safest natural harbours in the Mediterranean. Ferry-boats call at Korissia - also known as Livadi - which stands on the site of the city of Korissia, which in ancient times, with Ioulis, Karthea and Poiessa, was one of the island's four independent city-states.

The island's capital, Hora or Ioulida (6 km. from Korissia), has maintained its Cycladic idiom intact.Built in the shape of an amphitheatre, it presents the visitor with an impressive vista of two-storey houses and tiled roofs, steep cobbled alleyways and splendid churches with elaborately carved wooden icon screens. At the highest point of the village, on the site of the ancient acropolis, is a quarter known as Kastro which commands a breathtaking view of the nearby islands off the coast of Attica.Not far from here is the famous "Lion of Kea" (6th century BC), hewn out of the slate.

The Archaeological Museum in Hora contains interesting finds dating from the Cycladic period. The interior of the island is dotted with miniature chapels, windmills and monasteries, including that of Our Lady Kastriani, Kea's patron saint. Easily accessible from Athens, Kea offers those who are seeking a restful holiday clean, uncrowded beaches at Pisses, Korissia, Koundouros, Otzia bay and Poles bay; here they can enjoy delicious fresh fish at picturesque little tavernas.

The port of Korissia, also known as Livadia is the first place you will see when you arrive on the island since this is where the ferry docks. It has a long sandy beach, a supermarket, several restaurants, cafes, bars and a hotel or two. Above the port on the hill of Agia Triada are the ruins of the ancient acropolis and what is believed to be an archaic temple dedicated to Apollo. The statue known as the Kouros of Kea in the National Museum in Athens was found here. Livadia was pretty much deserted during the centuries of Ottoman rule but in 1922 it was repopulated by refugees from Asia Minor. For ferry watchers it is a good place to be because three ferries from Lavrion sail back and forth continuously all day and into the night and a couple times a week the Panagia Tinos from Syros makes an appearance here. You can catch the bus to Ioulis from here and there are taxis that will take you anywhere when they are not taking somebody else. You can also rent motorbikes. kea_korissia

In Kea you can see huge mountain masses broken up by small valleys sparsely planted with vines and fruit trees and run right down to the sea, opening out into pretty little bays.

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Little remains of the iour ancient cities. Excavations of the Américan School at Agia Irini have unearthed an important Bronze Age settlement, whose finds are on displaý in Ihe Hora museum. In the capital, built on a hillside on the site of ancient loulis, the traditional Cycladic architecture is preserved intact.Near the town stand remains of a Venetian castle. To the north-east, carved out ofrock, is the colossal 'Lion of Kea'; the work of an lo- nian sculptor of the 7th century BC. Also worth noting are the Byzantine monasteries Agia Philothei (lóth c.) and the Panayia Kastriani. The island is dotted..with lovely coves and beaches, all accessible by land.

Climb up to Hora when the sun sets and visit loulida built on the site of the ancient city. A few ruins of the acropolis are visible on the top of the hill, at the same place where the castle was built during the middle Ages, in order to protect its population against pirate attacks.

The island's capital, Hora or Ioulida (6 km. from Korissia), has maintained its Cycladic idiom intact. Built in the shape of an amphitheatre, it presents the visitor with an impressive vista of two-storey houses and tiled roofs, steep cobbled alleyways and splendid churches with elaborately carved wooden icon screens. At the highest point of the village, on the site of the ancient acropolis, is a quarter known as Kastro which commands a breathtaking view of the nearby islands off the coast of Attica.

The main beach in Livadia is a long sandy stretch that lies at the end of the valley. If you follow the coast around you come to a nice little beach called Gialiaskari that sits in a cove shaded by eucalyptus trees. If you are the hiking sort, there is an incredible walk on the old stone roads that bring you to the main road a mile or so from Livadia, passing through farms and springs along the way and providing some great opportunities for photgraphs. When you reach the bottom all sweaty and tired you have the refreshing sea and a nice cold beer or water.

Further along around another bend or two is the yacht harbor of Voukari which has several seafood restaurants and is where all the people who are sailing the Cyclades come.The bay of Voukari looks almost like a lake and is the most sheltered spot in the large harbor which is why it is popular with the yachters who know they will get a good night's rest, even when the waves are like mountains outside the harbor. The boats dock up, parallel-parking style right on the street and the waitors, when they are not too busy, run out to help by catching the lines and shouting directions and encouragement to the sailors. When the boats are secured the captain, crew and passengers cross the street for an ice-cold beer, a couple ouzos and mezedes or a seafood dinner

Across the bay is Agia Irini, where the ruins of a temple to Dionysious, the fortified walls, tower and gate of the Bronze Age settlement that once stood here. There are also ruins from the Hellenistic period as well as the Minoan and Mycenean periods including the impressive Mansion of the Master. There is a fence around it so unless you are an archaeologist you can't get in but you can still get a good view by walking around. There is the remains of an old steel-hulled ship in the small bay next to the site. Further along the Kokka peninsula are the ruins of the Michalinos Coal Company which used to supply steamships and the area known as Katsonis Crossing where Captain Lambros Katsonis dragged his ship across the isthmus and escaped the Turkish fleet who thought they had him trapped. At the very end is the Lighthouse of Agios Nikolaos which sits on the location of an ancient temple to Posideon, the stones of which can still be seen. On the nearby peninsula of Kefela close to Agia Irini, are the ruins of a very large temple from the 6th Century BC and the remains of some Neolithic tombs.

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Read 2174 times Last modified on Tuesday, 09 December 2008 12:37

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