Aigiali, Amorgos. Photo courtesy of GNTO by Y. Skoulas.
Amorgosis the easternmost island of the Cyclades island group and the nearest island to the neighboring Dodecanese island group in Greece. Along with several neighboring islets, the largest of which is Nikouria Island, it comprises the municipality of Amorgos, which has a land area of 126.346 square kilometres (48.782 square miles) and a population of 1,973 (2011 census).
Due to Amorgos' position across the ancient coast of Ionian towns, such as Militos, Alikarnassos and Ephesos, it became one of the first places from which the Ionians passed through to the Cyclades Islands and onto the Greek mainland.
Throughout history, Amorgos was also known as Yperia, Patagy, or Platagy, Pagali, Psichia and Karkisia. The island features a lot of remnants of ancient civilizations. At the time of Archaic Greece, there were three independent city-states. They are believed to have featured autonomous constitutions but the same currency. Amorgos is distinguished by the size and quality of the walls surrounding the city of Arkesini, by the ancient towers whose remains are scattered all over the island, by the ancient tombs, the stone tools, the inscriptions, the vases and by other antiquities. Amorgos is the origin of many famous Cycladic figurines. ‘Dokathismata style’ figurines were originally found here. Cycladic sculptures had been discovered from the cemeteries at Agia Paraskevi, Agios Pavlos, Dokathismata, Kapros, Kapsala, Nikouria and Stavros. 'Kapsala Cycladic figurines', dating around 2700 B.C., are named after the place they were found in the island. 'Dokathismata Cycladic figurines' date from a somewhat later period of 2400–2100 BC. Compared to the statuettes of the Spedos type—the most common and renowned type of figurines featuring finely modeled and somewhat rounded shapes—the statuettes of the Dokathismata type tend to have a more slender and sometimes angular silhouette. In the Classical period part of the island is named Aspis, where the ancient temple of the goddess Aphrodite stood. In approximately 630 BC, the poet Semonides led the foundation of a Samian colony on Amorgos. The Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax mentions it as Tripolis. It was a member of the Delian League. It participated in the Second Athenian League. In 322 BC, Athens and Macedonia fought the naval Battle of Amorgos. On 9 July 1956, a very powerful earthquake occurred that generated a local tsunami of up to 30 m (98 ft). Fifty-three people were killed and 100 were injured.
The island is accessible only by boat. It has two small ports, Katapola and Aegiali that connect it with both Piraeus and the other Cycladic islands. The most lively places of Amorgos are Chora, Katapola and Aegiali, but, one should definitely visit some of the several beautiful villages like Lagada,Tholaria,Potamos and Arkesini. The key feature of Amorgos is its extraordinary seafront, with beaches offering crystal clear waters. Amorgos is also known for its local festivals and its vibrant nightlife.
The monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa, Amorgos. Photo courtesy of GNTO by N. Kontos.
The island was featured in Luc Besson's film The Big Blue (1988), in which the rocky beach of Agia Anna and the monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa can be seen. The monastery is situated on the cliff side, northeast of Chora. It was built early in the second millennium in order to house and protect a rare Greek-Orthodox religious icon, dating from the year 812, from intruders. The icon is on public display inside the monastery. The monastery is active and houses three practicing monks. Amorgos was also featured in Giorgos Kordelas' film Ariadni (2002).
Cafe in Chora, Amorgos.
Tourism is going up slowly, although the island features prevent mass tourism. Amorgos nature is amazing and one can explore it by the 7 main paths that are marked with white and red signs around the island. There are hiking tracks for all levels of difficulty so that everyone can admire the breathtaking views and rocky scenery. Hiking ways are relatively well-maintained.
Some of the many beaches in Amorgos include: Agia Anna, Mouros, (following your swim down at Mouros Bay, and after you climb up the stairs, go to the Mouros Cafe & Tavern (tel.: 22850 74251) for excellent fish, seafood, seasonal greens, and not only, with a magnificent view) Agios Pavlos, Kalotaritisa, Finikes, Levresos, Maltezi (by caïque from Katapola at Є 4 p.p. return ticket), Nikouria, Psili Ammos and Plakes. Other activities are scuba diving, activities relating to wellness, and the beaches.
Upon entering Katapola, stop by the bakery and pastry shop of Mavros, (tel.: 2285 071525) to purchase a cheese-pie, a croissant, or any pastry you fancy for breakfast, a snack by the sea, or your dinner table. On the other side of Katapola, at Xilokeratidi, we strongly recommend Youkali, (tel.: 2285 071838) for creative Mediterranean cuisine with fresh local products and value for your money. Try their Cretan Makarounes (hand-made wide spaghetti) with Vegetables and Xynomizithra local goat cheese, their linguini with mussels and garlic, or their roast goat.
At the other small port, of Aigiali, we recommend To Limani tis kyra-Katinas, (tel.: 7826922850) for traditional Greek cuisine and fresh fish and seafood. Three-minutes away from Aigiali, at the small village of Potamos, book your reservation at Kamara restaurant with the most magnificent view of the Small-Cyclades group of islands at sunset. Try their kolokythopitta (zucchini pie), patatato (the island's favorite meat recipe) and portokalopitta dessert. Also a very short distance from Aigiali,
At Chora, the historic capital of the island, make sure to go to Transistoraki, (tel.: 698 882 0049) an excellent mezedopoleio style restaurant with delicious food along with ouzo/tsipouro or beer. Diagonally across the street, visit their deli/pastry shop for all sorts of goodies to take home or consume at your local accommodation.
If you visit Amorgos during July and August, you should not miss the traditional fests that are held in its picturesque villages all around the island. On 25th and on the 26th of July, fests are held in Kato Meria and in Katapola. On the 6th of August, a big fest is held in Chora, where people are gathered in Loza Square where spontaneous traditional dances take place under the songs of local musicians. Around the 15th of August, fests are held in Lagada, above the port of Aegiali. Taverns have live music and people are strolling around and dancing under the sounds of music.