Amorgos is a remarkably unspoiled island at the south-eastern edge of the Cyclades group, where traditional customs are still inextricably interwoven into a landscape as rich in beauty as in its history and culture. Originally inhabited by seafarers from Asia Minor in the 4th Century BC, the island now cradles people who enjoy a lifestyle that has been shaped by a varied and dramatic past. This is a place that appears untouched by time, but where the inhabitants quietly preserve one of the best kept secrets of the Aegean.
The length of the island is 33 kms and its width ranges between 1,5 to 6 kms. There are three mountain peaks — Krikelos (822m) to the north, Profitis Ilias (699 metres) in the middle and Korax (607 metres) to the south-west. The dramatic mountain scenery provides a fine backdrop to some excellent walking.
Meadows and areas for cultivation can be found in the area of Aegiali at the north, in Katapola at the centre, and in Arkesini at the southern part of the island.
There are two ports on the island: Katapola and Aegiali, where ferries, catamaran and hydrofoils call, connecting Amorgos to other islands and the mainland.
There are several beaches along the coast line. In Aegiali, the beach is long and sandy, starting from the edge of the fishing village Ormos. “Levroso”, “Psili Ammos” and “Hohlakas” are a 15 min. walk from the port, while they can also be reached by small boat on a regular schedule.
In front of Aegiali bay, at the small uninhabited island of Nikouria, there are two nice sandy beaches, where small boats cross people for swimming from the bay of “Agios Pavlos”. On this island, there was a mint in antiquity, making the coins of the three ancient cities, Minoa, Arkesini and Aegiali. Each City State had its own currency, most of the coins depicting herbs and the head of Hippocrates.
On the other, steep side of Amorgos, below the Byzantine Monastery of Panagia Chozoviotissa, lies the beach of Agia Anna, famous for the clear blue and turquoise waters. Here is the location where the famous movie “The Big Blue” was filmed, making Amorgos known around the world. Continuing south, at the same side of the island, “Mouros “ beach is very popular for the clear waters, the dark thick sand and the two caves where one can swim in. In Arkesini, “Kalotaritissa”, “Kato Kambos” and “Paradisia” beaches are found at the South end of Amorgos.
HISTORY OF THE ISLAND
The island was first inhabited during the Neolithic period and 14 sites dating from the Early Cycladic period have been excavated so far. In antiquity, there were three main cities on Amorgos, all founded in the 7th and 6th centuries BCE. Remains of all three can still be seen. The island played an important role in antiquity, due to its special geographic location. During the Medieval era, Amorgos was ruled by the Dukes of Naxos, but after the Byzantine Empire was restored in Constantinople, Amorgos was recaptured in 1268. Before the end of the century, however, the Venetians and Genoese defeated the Byzantines and Amorgos returned to the rule of the Dukes of Naxos until the Ottomans captured the island in 1566.
IN AMORGOS ISLAND, WE LOVE AND PROTECT OUR BEAUTIFUL NATURE.
Greece is one of the few countries that has been included on the UNESCO representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity for the use of dry stone walls. The practice is recognised as a good use of space environmentally, one of great traditional significance which creates a harmonious bond between humans and nature. Known for its beautiful, wild and untouched nature, there are so many reasons why Amorgos island should be on your travel list. And you can be sure that you will find plenty of dry-stone walls around the island as they are of great popularity in Amorgos. Over the years, the local people of the island try as best as they can to keep the island in its pure state with practices that enrich the agriculture, its natural beauty and ways that are environmentally friendly.
The use of dry-stone walls is one of great importance in Amorgos with many benefits and uses.
Traditionally, they are used for agricultural reasons. Many farmers from the island build the walls to protect their field crops and agriculture. Also as part of the agricultural element, locals also build dry stone-walls to expose their part of the land and separate from the rest. Many also do so for their animals such as goats and sheep, to keep them in an environment where they cannot wonder of and get lost.
SAFETY & MAINTENANCE
There is also a safety aspect to dry stone walls, also being used to prevent landslides and floods, being an effective way to keep the nature safe, without damage being caused.
Believe it or not, back in the days, these stone walls were also used as an artistic canvas for locals who carved on rocks. Asfondilitis is a village in Amorgos island that is well known for this and the carvings are known to be around 100 years old.
From time to time however these dry stone-wall structures can weaken and restoration may be needed. For this reason, many locals and sometimes even tourists organise days where many come together to work towards the restoration of some of these walls. The practice is also a great way for the community to come together and do something for the beautiful nature of the island. It can also considered a practice of karma yoga for the yoga enthusiasts who visit the island and want to get involved in the wellbeing of the nature in the island.