Greek Hidden Treasures 14: Kastellorizo: Beauty and History

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Located in the southeastern Mediterranean Sea, Kastellorizo is a peaceful and alluring island that will surprise you with its hidden beauty. It is close to Rhodes, Symi, Tilos, Nisyros and Kalymnos and you can easily take a ferry and go there. Although, it has never been a way too popular holiday destination, it gained much of its popularity due to the Oscar-winning film Mediterraneo which took place in there.


Kastellorizo’s first name used to be Megisti (which means: “the largest”), since it is the largest island to that small archipelagos, but after the 12th century the name Kastellorizo has been more commonly used, to such an extent that some do not know that this island has two names. The first part of its name (“Kastello”) probably derives from “castello” the Italian word for “castle”, but the origin of the second part is doubtful.


Kastellorizo was inhabited by Dorian Greeks and during the Hellenistic Period, it was ruled by the people of Rhodes – there are certain inscriptions at the Knight Castle that confirm those claims. During the Byzantine Empire, Rhodes was its capital and thus, Kastellorizo played an important role in trading.


#What to do

Explore and enjoy its amazing geology; limestone is the keyword. According to scientists, limestone has been prevalent on the island since the Mesozoic/Cenozoic era. If you love nature, you should also visit the “Blue Cave” and even try diving! This cave is truly unique and rare; it is Greece’s largest sea cave and probably the most beautiful one. Full of stalactites, its waters are like a painting that has every possible shade of blue. If you’re lucky, you may encounter seals and wild pigeons. This piece of heaven on earth is only accessible by boat.


#What to see


You should visit Kastellorizo’s “Red Castle” (Castello Russo). Some claim that this island is named after this castle that was built in the 14th century by the Knights of Saint John. Castello Russo is built upon a red rock that is located near to the port. Paliokastro is an ancient settlement with many preserved buildings and cisterns. The Church of Saint Constantine and Eleni is also located near to the port and it is surely imposing.Its interior has gothic elements and 12 granite columns.When in there, you should observe its superb interior roof.Near to the port, there is also a gorgeous Mosque that started its operation in 1993. Since 2007, the Mosque has been functioning as a museum. Last but not least, do not miss the chance to visit the Archaeological and Folklore Museum of Kastellorizo, which is a part of Saint Nicolas’ Medieval Castle. In there, you can find a variety of exhibits such as Byzantine jewels and coins, sculptures of the Paleochristian era and frescos. Notably, there is a whole room about folklore; you can admire traditional, local costumes, embroideries, potteries and many more.


#What to eat

Apart from delicious seafood recipes, you should also taste a traditional pie made of chickpeas.You won’t believe how tasty it is.


#Where to swim


Kastellorizo’s waters are as clear as they can get, even near to the port. Generally, you will encounter mostly rocky beaches, often with deep waters. They are ideal for all those who long for diving. If you prefer sand beaches, Mandraki is the right place for you. It is small and it has, like the rest, crystal-clear waters. Note, that you can take a small boat and visit some of the alluring beaches of adjacent islets such as Ai-Giorgis, Stroggili and the islets of Ro. They really do worth the trip!

What are you waiting for? Book your ferry tickets now!


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