IOS - THE ISLAND OF ODYSSEUS ELYTIS
Ios or Nios is a small island in the Cyclades which is located a little further north of Santorini. It is the island on which, according to Herodotus, Homer, the great Greek epic poet, breathed his last. It stands out for its beaches, crystal clear waters and picturesque coves as it has 86 km of coastline, of which 32 km are sandy beaches. The port of Ios is considered one of the safest in the Cyclades with the small church of Agia Irini built at the entrance and the stone lighthouse to welcome visitors. Chora of Ios is a traditional Cycladic settlement on a hillside, overlooking the bay of Gialos, the white houses with bougainvilleas, the narrow alleys and the ruins of the medieval castle which gives a unique picturesqueness to the island. One of the characteristic landscapes of the island is Panagia Gremniotissa with the palm tree, the amazing view of the Bay, Sikinos and the Aegean. According to legend, during the Turkish occupation some Cretans fled the icon of the Virgin Mary on a raft to save her and this raft reached Ios.
The island has a large Archaeological Museum which is housed in the Amiradakeio Palace. In its exhibits one can see information about the natural environment and the archaeological history of the island, mainly from the Middle and Late Bronze Age. On the island is also the tomb of Homer, the greatest epic poet of all time who left his last breath in the area of Plakotos, where his tomb is. One of the most important sights of the island is the open theater "ODYSSEUS ELYTIS'' a masterpiece of architecture made of stone and marble which is built high on the hill at a point that was a favorite place of the great poet overlooking the Gulf of Mylopotas and the Aegean. The theater is located just above the traditional windmills of Chora which were part of the productive power of the island. Paleokastro, on the northside of Ios, is built 300 meters above the sea and is the precinct of a Byzantine fortress dating back to the early 16th century.
The Ancient City of Ios was located on the hill of the Castle that dominates the port area. Now visible parts of the wall, a building, the road to the port and the temple of Apollo, at the site of the church of St. Catherine. The churches in Ios are important attractions as it is the characteristic of its country while the tradition states that the churches are 365 one for each day of the year while there are many folk legends associated with the founding of each church on the island. Most of them are visitable and liturgical while many organize festivals every year for the celebration of the Saint to whom they are dedicated. Of interest are the Holy Monastery of Agios Ioannis Prodromos on Mount Pyrgos at an altitude of 713 meters, which is part of the Holy Monastery of Hozoviotissi Amorgos and the Holy Monastery of Agios Ioannis Kalamos, a private Byzantine monastery on the east side of the island in Kalamos. Between Agia Aikaterini and the church of Agioi Anargyroi that adorn the island was the market of the ancient city.
The island is full of beaches, some of which we will mention, while for nature lovers from the area of Katsiveli of Chora one can descend to the beach and from the port, from the church of Agia Irini, there is a beautiful walking route to Valmas beach. The coastal settlement of Mylopotas is just 3 km from Chora, one of the most famous and secular beaches of the island that has been awarded with a Blue Flag. There is a windsurfing and diving school on the beach. The beach in Agia Theodoti is a vast sandy beach with crystal clear waters, sunbeds and fine sand. The beach of Gialos, which can be seen from the port is accessible even on foot, with crystal clear waters although it is close to the port and ideal for families. Manganari is one of the most beautiful areas of Ios, at the southern tip of the island with seven consecutive golden sand beaches on which scenes of the movie "Infinite Blue" were filmed. Next to the port, Koumbara after the ascent of Gialos is another busy beach.
The cuisine of Ios has many special flavors such as tsimetia (zucchini flowers stuffed with rice), local meat with mermitzeli (a local handmade barley) and goat meat with chickpeas or sun-dried shrimp. Particularly famous are the local meats of Ios that are famous for their taste. Cheeses are the most famous local product made in the traditional way mainly from goat's and sheep's milk. The most famous are skotyri (spicy taste and aroma of trumpet), sour (a creamy white cheese), kefalotyri, gruyere and mizithra. Ios has developed beekeeping for this reason it produces thyme honey, which is worth trying as well as a variety of traditional sweets. Sweets that stand out are the pasteli which is made from the local thyme honey, which is characterized by its special aroma and kalasounia. On the island you can find capers and figs,pickled dried figs tied with sesame. Like the rest of the Cyclades, Ios has a great variety of herbs depending on the season such as oregano, thyme, sage, fennel etc.