KYTHIRA - THE ISLAND OF APHRODITE
Kythira or Tsirigo is one of the islands with great contrasts as it is large with narrow roads and is a mixture of Cyclades, Ionian Islands and Peloponnese. The cultural heritage of Kythera is rich as many cultures passed through the island. The incomparably beautiful natural landscape is characterized by rich flora, stone bridges, watermills, paths and beaches. The goddess Aphrodite was born in the waters of the island, as the legend states, and was a love refuge for Paris and the beautiful Eleni. The capital Chora, one of the most beautiful and impressive castles of all islands in Greece, is a declared traditional settlement and was a place of strategic importance built on the top of the mountain with an exceptional view. The castle of Chora was built in 1503 while the bell towers of the churches that stand out have a dominant position. General Koronaios, a hero of the liberation struggle of Crete, came from the island whose bust adorns the square.
At Cape Spathi is the lighthouse of Moudari from 1857, 25 meters high, built during the British occupation and is the largest built by the British in Greece. The city has two squares, the central one and the Crucified Square, which was named after the parish of the Crucified, which is also the metropolitan church of Kythera. The Archaeological Museum has findings from Prehistoric and Classical times, most importantly the marble lion of the 6th century. BC. The Cave of Agia Sophia of Mylopotamos is the largest in Kythira, a creation of nature with Byzantine hagiographies of the 13th century. Panagia Myrtidiotissa, the patron saint of Kythera, is one of the most important religious pilgrimages of the Virgin Mary in Greece, where thousands of pilgrims visit the miraculous icon. She has the nickname Myrtidiotissa, because a shepherd found her in a place full of myrtles. Potamos is the most historic village, in which the most important events of the modern history of the island have taken place.
Near the village of Mylopotamos, where 22 watermills are built, is the waterfall of "Neraida" or "Fonissa" which falls from a height of 20 meters forming a small green lake ideal for swimming and relaxation. A very interesting network of hiking trails in nature has also been developed and marked which makes it a popular hiking destination. Sparagario in Kapsali, Sage in Diakofti and the estuary of Paliochora Gorge attract climbers of two types of climbing, the traditional and the "sport". The gorge of Tsakonas is located between the villages of Mitata and Viaradika in the center of the island. After several kilometers and several forks the gorge ends in the area of Paleopolis. One of the most imposing monuments of Kythera is the stone bridge in Katouni that was built during the British occupation and is the largest stone bridge built in Greece.
Antikythera is a barren island of great strategic importance and small area between Kythira and Crete, which are also a research center of the Hellenic Ornithological Society. They are known from the wreck of the ancient merchant ship, discovered in 1900 by sponges where many archaeological finds came to light. The wreck is an attraction for underwater explorers, as the boat's mooring location causes for diving. One of the most remarkable sights is the Castle with the walled city, the Sanctuary of Apollo in the gulf of Xiropotamos with the statue of Apollo Aegilios located in the Archaeological Museum of Athens. It is worth visiting the Andronikos Watermill, the Lighthouse of Apolytara, and the Medieval monuments in the neighborhood of Potamos Charhaliana. Antikythera is one of the few places in Greece where free camping is allowed.
The island has enchanting beaches, and some of them have Blue Flag awards. Melidoni is a small bay, protected from the winds, together with the Copper, both organized, overlooking Chytra. Wonderful is the organized beach of the twin bays of Kapsali, under the "shadow" of the Castle of Chora overlooking the Chytra. Chytra is an impressive rocky islet opposite Kapsali with access only by sea. It has the shape of a pyramid and in its southern part there is a large cave with a small idyllic beach. Kaladi, although not organized, is the most famous beach of the island, it has steps and is divided in the middle by rocks that provide shade. The beach is divided into three parts where in the third there is a small cave that ends in a small beach.
The most famous local products are the high quality honey and the sempreviva plant that probably grows only in Kythira and is kept unchanged over time. Characteristic is the tsipouro from organic vines and Fatourada, the most delicious liqueur of the island from pure tsipouro and cinnamon cloves or with aroma and taste of fruits such as mandarin, orange and apricot. Rosettes are traditional sweets from thyme honey, almond, semolina, sugar, cinnamon, clove. Pasticeto, which is the famous dessert of the island and spoon sweets are found everywhere throughout the island. The wine is also one of the top products of the place as well as the ladopaximado(oil rusk) which is sold in the ovens which is superior in taste to any other traditional Greek rusk. Local sausages are also unlike any other, mountain, lowland or island.