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Friday, 14 March 2008 15:43

Kimolos

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Kimolos is a nice, small unspoiled quiet island. It is believed that took its name after chalk (chalk=Kimolia in Greek), which it once produced. Kimolos was known in antiquity for the chalk, used as detergent and in medinical baths (fuller's earth). But according to a legend it took its name after its first inhabitant, Kimolos husband of Side.

kimolos_monk_seal.jpg

kimolos_map This volcanic, mountainous island whith white cliffs and roads is a perfect getaway for those who want some peace and quiet. It is a popular island amongst the Greeks, but has not really been discovered by the foreign tourists yet. It is a genuine, picturesque island with friendly people and tiny villages, a few things to see and some nice beaches.

The name Kimolos comes from the word for chalk, and it suits, since the houses are whiter than white. Chalk is an export product for the island, and the rest of the islanders live off fishing and to some extent tourism.

Hora (capital) is a pretty authentic cycladic town with, where its white washed houses are built around the centre of the castle which pides the capital into two settlements: Messa Kastro (Inner Castle) and Exo Kastro (Outer Castle). These settlements are also called Palio Horio (Old Village) and Neo Horio (New Village). In Hora there is a small museum and some beautiful churches. Panagia Evangelistria, the cathedral church, is just outside the north walls of the castle (built in 1614). Taxiarhis (built in 1670), and Chrisostomos (built in 1680) are worth a visit. The views of the port, and the nearby islands are superb, giving an impression of a white painting with deep blue background.

Psathi, is a little pretty port (where ferries dock) with a beach restaurant, a couple of tavernas, a bar and a information center. Goupa is a pretty small hemlet near Psathi with good beach and a couple of tavernas.

The ruined Venetian castle (built by Marco Sanudo) is within an easy walking distance from Hora and situated at the highest point of the island (355m). Ellinika (50 minutes walk or boat from Psathi) is the main archaeological site of the island. At the bottom of the sea in the nearby Koftou beach are the remains of Ancient Kimolos. Near Kambana beach are the remains of Mycenaean Tombs.

kimolos_psathi

History of the island

Kimolos was once one with Milos, but an earthquake separated the two islands, giving them the shapes they have today. The town Ellinika sunk and during archaeological excavations remains from the 8th century have been found where this city once was. Before it got its current name, Kimolos was called Arzantiera, and before that Ehinoussa. Kimolos was supposely the island's first ruler. It was part of the Venetian Dutchy of the Cyclades in the 13th to 16th century, but most of the inhabitants were pirates. The Turks arrived in the 16th century, and invaded and conquered most of Greece. Kimolos was no exception, but the piracy on the island continued, and almost all the islanders left in the 18th century.

Worth to see and taste

Most of the people of Kimolos today live in the island's capital Chora. Because of the many pirate attacks the village has been built like a true labyrinth, in order to confuse the enemies. Here, you can visit the archaeological museum with objects mainly from the excavations at Ellinika, and there is also an impressive church with a blue dome, as well as an old kastro. At Ellinika there is a ping school, where they take you on pes around the sunken city. Don't expect to see too much though. The fishing village Goupa is very pretty and definately worth a visit. The hot wells of Prassa are reputed for having healing powers.
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This is very much an island for relaxation and recreation, so take some good books, colours or pencils and let the creativity flow. You can also go ping at the ping school at Ellinika or take a daytrip to Milos. The snorkelling is good as well as the fishing. The food served on Kimolos is traditional Greek. You'll find the taverns in Chora or the harbour, and the island's speciality is a kind of pizza called "Ladenia". You should also try the small dishes, mezedakia, here. Because of the lack of transportation: no buses, carrentals or moped's, you'll have to settle with walking. The distances are not very big though, and if you're lucky you might be able to hitchhike. In the harbour there is usually a taxiboat, and sometimes you can get a fisherman to take you where you want to go for a small fee.

The Monk Seal

The Mediterranean Monk Seal, Monachus monachus, is a rare marine mammal which's most important population is found in Greece. Its name derives from its appearance that resembles the hood of catholic monks. As the Monk Seal is a top predator, its existence is linked to the health of sea. Today, it is the No1 critically endangered sea mammal in Europe and one of the six most critically endangered species in the world. Protecting the Monk Seal means protecting the marine ecosystem. Extinction of the Monk Seal is the prelude of the marine ecosystem's deterioration.

The largest population of the Mediterranean Monk Seal in the world lives and breeds in Greece. Comprising 90% of the species' total European population, 200-250 inpiduals are swimming in the clear-blue waters of the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Another important remaining population, within European waters, is found at the Madeira island complex and consists of about 20 inpiduals. The "National Marine Park of Alonnissos Northern Sporades" and the Kimolos-Polyaigos island complex constitute the two most significant Monk Seal habitats in Greece. kimolos_monk_seal.jpg

Due to their rich biopersity, North-West Kimolos Island and Polyaigos Island are part of the "NATURA 2000 Network" of the most important, ecologically-wise, sites in Europe. When it comes to the Monk Seal, the Kimolos -Polyaigos island complex becomes of vital significance and barer of some really good news. Between 1997 and 2005, a total of 68 pups were born, i.e., the second highest recorded newborn pup population in the Mediterranean and the third worldwide. Pups excluded, 43 inpiduals have been sighted in the area, constituting 9% of the species total world population, circa 500 inpiduals. Taking into consideration the status of Kimolos-Polyaigos Islands as habitat to such an important population of this critically endangered species, the area's protection is a step to be taken.

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Beaches

Kimolos is not reputed for its great beaches, but there are a few places for enjoying the sea. Mavrospilia is a long, deserted beach, Aliki has a quite good sand and stone beach and in Goupa there are some cliffs you can get into the water from. You can also get the taxiboat to the little island Polyaegos where the best beaches are.

  • Aliki - One of the best beaches of the island. -white strand of coarse sand. (South)\
  • Ellinika - Coarse sand (South West)
  • Kambana - Nice beach (South West)
  • Klima - One of the best beaches of the island (East)
  • Prassa - Beautifu beach with several shandy secluded coves nearby
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