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 opposite the ancient beaches 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 there. 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. From the name Minoa we suspect that Amorgos had been colonized by the Cretans from ancient times, but there are no archaeological findings to support this view. 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 navel 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 most lively places of Amorgos are Chora, Katapola and Aegiali, but, one should definitely visit some of the several beautiful villages like Lagada, Tholaria, and Arkesini. The key feature of Amorgos is its extraordinary seafront, with beaches offering crystal clear waters and some of the most legendary beach bars of the Cyclades. 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 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 religious icon, dating from the year 812, from intruders. The icon is on public display inside the monastery. Visitors have to be dressed respectfully in order to enter. As of July 2012, 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. The island is accessible only by boat. The three main places of tourist accommodations are Katapola, Aegiali and Chora. 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, Agios Pavlos, Kalotaritisa, Finikes, Levresos, Maltezi, Nikouria, Psili Ammos and Plakes. Other activities are scuba diving, activities relating to wellness, and the beaches (although it is not the main attraction of the island compared to other Greek islands). 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. 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. All the taverns have live music and people are strolling around and dancing under the sounds of music.