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Friday, 14 March 2008 17:33

Kythnos

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The small island of Kythnos is mainly mountainous but full of pretty little bays which relieve the harshenees of the bare earth. Hora or Messaria is the island's capital noted for the beautiful churches with their fine wood-carving, sanctuary screens and icons.

kythnos_ag_eirini

According to tradition, the island was named after Kithnos, the leader of the Driopes, its first settlers. It was also called Driopis at that time. Driopes settled the island around the 12th-11th century BC. During classical times, they founded such a perfectly organised autonomous state that Aristotel mentioned it in his "About the Kithnians' State", which has not been preserved. Like the rest of the Cyclades, Kithnos joined the Athenian League and was subjugated by the Macedonians, Ptolemies and Romans, who used it as an exile. During Byzantine times, it belonged to the Theme of the Aegean. After the fall of Constantinople, it was conquered by Marco Sanudo and was ruled by Venetian families. In 1617, the Turks placed the island under the jurisdiction of the Sultan, ousting the last Venetian ruler, Angelo Gozadino. All through the Turkish domination, the island was scourged by pirate raids and epidemics alike. In 1823, plague decimated the island's inhabitants. "Kithniaka" is another bloody page of the island's history. In February of 1862, rebels from Siros who attempted to liberate the exiles clashed with the army at Agia Anna Bay. They were violently defeated and only after the Otto's dethronement, their bones were transferred to the 1st Cemetery of Athens. kythnos_map

Interesting sightseeing sites are:
The Church of Panagia Flambouriani stands in the village of Flambouria, south-west of the town of Kithnos. According to tradition, there are traces from the steps of the Virgin all the way from the beach to the church. In summer, lilies in bloom in the area give off their sweet smell. The beautiful post-Byzantine church of Agia Triada is situated in Kithnos (Hora).

kythnos_kanala

Built in basilica with a dome style, Agia Triada is the oldest church on the island. It took its present shape after a series of restorations and continuous changes, and it hardly reminds one of the first church. In the interior, remarkable frescoes are well preserved, as well as icons of the post-Byzantine period. Ancient sculptures and inscriptions have been found in the area around the church. The monastery of Panagia Kanala stands in a lovely area, 16 km south-east of Kithnos, near the village of Kanala. Inside it, one can admire the miraculous icon of the Virgin. It is supposed to have been found in the area of Kanali and, according to tradition, is a work of Luke the Evangelist. According to the scholars, however, it is the work of the folk artist, Antonis Skordilis and dates, back to the 15th century. On its feast days, on the 15th of August and 8th of September, big festivals are held, attracting pilgrims from all over the island. The monastery of Panagia Nikous dominates over Hora. From all its constructions, only its three-aisled basilica church with the two domes still stands. During the Turkish domination, a "secret school" was functioning in the monastery's basement.

kythnos_ag_eirini

History

Kythnos probably took its name from the leader of Dryops and first inhabitant of the island, Kythno, although his existence is doubtful. Another possibility is that its name comes from the stem "kyth", which derives from the verb "kephtho" (=hide) and refers to the place where one can hide, probably a place with woods, valleys, caves or mines. Recent excavations at Maroulas area have brought to light findings which prove that the island was inhabited during the Mesolithic Period that is it may have been the oldest settlement of man on Cyclades. In the 13th century B.C., according to Herodotus, the Dryops emigrated to the island, traces of whom are the Cyclopean walls and the temples they have left behind. The Ions were the next to inhabit the island. In the "Kinthean Republic", Aristotle refers to the ideal state those peoples had created.

Kythos - Hora

Kythnos, the capital of the island is littered with beautiful white houses and wonderful churches not to be missed. The Church of Agía Triádas, Metamórfosis, Agiou Panteleímona and Agiou Ioánnou are a must-see. All of these churches were both for Orthodox and for Catholic pilgrims, the first praying on the right side and the latter on the left.

Dryopitha

This was the ancient capital of the island located south of Hóra. Today's village is traditional and has some windmills (used in the past for grinding flour). Nearby there is also the location of Katafíki, a famous cave which has been destroyed by the iron ore mines, shafts of which can also be seen.

Panagia Kanala Monastery

This famous Monastery, almost at the southern end of the island, is dedicated to the Panagiá, celebrated every August 15. The Monastery, when open, offers basic amenities and food. A beautiful beach is also available for those that just cant wait for a cool dip.

Briokastro

The site of the alleged ancient capital of Kythnos, it is full of tombs, walls and other artifacts from ancient times including artificial caves built into the rock faces.

Loutra

This is the Spa town of the island, full of hotels and pensions catering to the Athenians who descent every year in search of a (sometimes) mythical cure. Here is located the Castle, which was built around 1650, ruins of which are much in evidence. In Loutra, there is plenty of opportunity for spearfishing and snorkeling, with wonderful underwater settings, especially north of the town

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Read 1820 times Last modified on Tuesday, 09 December 2008 12:32

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