Karpathos, the second largest of the Dodecanese islands in Greece’s southern Aegean sea, lies thirty miles southwest of Rhodes. The island has a total of ten villages. Pigadia (Karpathos city) is the capital and main port of the island.
Karpathos is still very genuine with little major tourism. It’s a great place for windsurfers and also cool in the summer due to the strong winds. The island is strongly traditionalist, with its well-preserved distinctive features of dress, custom and dialect reminiscent of both nearby Crete and far-away Cyprus.
Karpathos’ rich history peaked in 431BC, when they fought with Sparta in the Peloponnesian War. However they lost their independence to Rhodes in 400 BC and in 42 BC to Rome. The Byzantines took over, followed by the Genoese then the Venetians. In1538 the Ottoman Turks occupied Karpathos and the island decayed considerably during the next 300 years. Following an Italian occupation, the island was eventually liberated and returned to Greece in 1947, which makes it even more remarkable that it has managed to keep so many of its unique traditions.
Karpathos island is very well connected, with different transport links. There are several ferries from mainland Greece, as well as domestic and international flights landing at its airport. There are buses connecting the villages with the main town. In the summer, several private boats depart from Pigadia daily en route to various locations including Olympos (via Diafani) and several otherwise inaccessible beaches.
There are many excellent beaches like the sandy one with clear water in Pigadia, Amoopi in the south, Kyra Panagia with its many pine trees and Agios Minas (which can be reached by boat) and Agios Nikolaos which is considered to be one of the best beaches in Greece.
Visit the “Women’s Village” Olympos for the traditional natural stone houses, the pretty little fishing village of Lefkos, the medieval village of Menetes in the mountains for its many churches and archaeological museum and Pigadia for the Cave of Poseidon.
Listen out for local songs at weddings and festivals, even in cafes and restaurants, accompanied by traditional instruments like the lyra, tsampouna and the lauto (mandolin)..
Posted : Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 at 11:00
Karen Bryan is the founding editor of the UK based, multi author Europe a la Carte Blog which features Europe travel tips about the best places to visit in Europe.