General Information of Astypalea

A fine spectacle is offered by the vilage of Astypalea or Hora, beginning from the islets the traveller can admire before reaching the picturesque bay of the city. The wharf is at the south-east extremity. The beauty of Hora is accented by its white houses surrounding the walls of the Byzantine fortress, on the top of the hill, and descending, so to speak, the slope till the seashore. Being part of the scenery, the old mills on the height complete the imposing panorama. Within the area of the Castle fallen in ruins, where still remain, as the only mark of the Guerinis’ rule, their blazons, we come across two churches: the older one of St George and the modern one of the Annunciation.

The Church of Panaghia Portaitissa or of the Castle, just at the foot of the Castle, is one of the finest in the Dodecanese. It was built by the holy man Anthimos the Blind in 1764 with the assistance of the old priest Michael. The altar screen carved in wood and overlapped with gold-foil is one of the most beautiful of the kind. The icon of Virgin Mary is a faithful reproduction of Panaghia Portaitissa of the Convent of Ibers on the Mount Athos. It was the holy man himself who brought it from Mount Athos. The Church holds its feast on the 15th of August. On that day popular rejoicings take place.

Livadia (15 km from Hora). South-east of Khora a passable road leads to this little settlement covered with trees and endowed with a splendid beach and with taverns-restaurants.

Agios Constantinos. At about 3 km from Hora, at the southest part of the island, we find this charming beach.

Armenokhori. This locality is pleasantly situated on a plateau where leads a branching off the road west of Hora. The feast of St Pantelimon is celebrated there on the 27th July, followed by popular festivities.

Convent of Panaghia Flevaritissa. A branching off the same road, left, leads to this unrivalled site. The convent has a small guest house.

Messaria. On the west the road leads to Messaria and to the Convent of St John with the delightful beach and the Castle. The convent celebrates its feast on the 29th August.

Convent of Livia. On the north-west of Hora the road leads to the convent, built on the slope of a mountain, overlooking the sea and having a small guest house. Further the main road leads to Analipsis or Maltezana. A picturesque settlement with its white houses and its flowery fields and gardens, the vast beach and taverns. One can admire the well preserved mosaics of a Roman swimming pool and the monument of the French philhellene captain Bigon, who died in 1827, by setting fire to his corvette to avoid being captured by pirates.

Agrelidi, a small coastal settlement.

Vathy, the remotest and most isolated locality in the island. It is divided into Exo-Vathy (outer Vathy), on this side of the mouth of the oblong bay, and Mesa-Vathy (inner Vathy) in the recess of the bay. There are vast beaches, taverns-restaurants and some rooms to let. Grottos of the island. Two of them are the most important: the Grotto of the Dragon or “Dracospilia”, near Vathy, ornamented with stalactites and stalagmites amidst a fairy-like scenery; and the Negro’s Grotto near the locality Vatses, formerly a pirates’ den, with a strait mouth and adorned with stalactites and stalagmites.

Ancient coins of Astypalea minted during the 3rd-1st centuries represented the head of Perseus or a “harpi” (a sabre in the shape of a sickle) or a gorgon-head. Later they represented the effigy of Dionysos or of Athena or of Asklepios. The Astypaleots minted also golden staters or silver tetradrachmas and other coins representing Livia and Tiberius.