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ASTYPALAIA - THE BUTTERFLY OF THE AEGEAN

Astypalea is located between the Dodecanese where it belongs but has many of the characteristics of the Cyclades while around it are Anafi, Kos and Amorgos. It is known as the Aegean butterfly and owes this to its shape. It is an ideal destination for alternative holidays, where one can enjoy the wild natural beauty, combining the blue of the sea with the unique landscape offered by the coast. The capital Chora is one of the most beautiful settlements in the Aegean, built on a rock that reaches the sea, forming two bays. The castle, the beautiful churches and the traditional houses create an atmosphere, making the charming castle town a fascinating island landscape. The Venetian castle of Querini is one of the best preserved in the Aegean. Inside the castle there are two white churches with stone bell towers that stand out Panagia Evangelistria built in 1853 and Agios Georgios in 1790.

Maltezana or Analysis is the second largest settlement and to be there one must pass through the Steno, a small strip of land that functions as a natural isthmus. Vathi is the smallest and most remote point of the island which consists of two settlements, Exo Vathi and Mesa Vathi. It is located in a long narrow cove that enters like a river on land, forming a lagoon called Lost Lake. On the hill is the church of Agios Nikolaos while from Vathi one can visit the special Cave of the Dragon. Pera Gialos is the traditional port of Astypalea and connects Chora with the beach. In Pera Gialos one can visit the Archaeological Museum of Astypalea with exhibits from all historical periods. Livadi is a small resort in a fertile valley with fruit trees, many flowers and a beautiful beach.

Astypalea is an important religious destination as its monasteries and chapels exceed 350. The main one is the church of Panagia Portaitissa, in Rodia below the Castle, one of the most beautiful Greek churches whitewashed with a blue dome and a separate bell tower. Next to it there is a small ecclesiastical museum with rare relics and old icons. The church of Megali Panagia also known as the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary is strongly reminiscent of the churches of the Cyclades and consists of five small temples, which compose an exceptional architectural building. The monastery of Panagia Flevariotissa, built on the rock above the town where part of the church is located inside a cave was a center of worship in antiquity. Opposite the monastery are the ruins of the castle of Agios Ioannis. In the Castle of Querini there are two churches, Panagia Kastrou and Agios Georgios. Other notable churches are Agios Nikolaos, Agios Ioannis, Agios Dimitrios, the small church of the Ascension, Agios Panteleimon, Agios Eleftherios and others.

The island has three caves which are connected with the tradition of the place. In Vathi, one finds the cave of Drakos, or Drakospilia which can be reached by boat. Inside you can admire impressive stalactites and stalagmites. In Vatses is the cave of Negro, in which there are also unique formations of stalagmites and stalactites. For this particular cave there are myths about pirates and about the treasures that are said to have been hidden in it. The third is located on the highest mountain of the island, in Castellano, where the cave of Panagia Poulariani, the patron saint of sailors, is located. The rock forms the Virgin Mary embracing the divine infant. According to tradition, in bad weather, light comes on the rocks. One should not miss a visit to the Baths of Talaras, where there are mosaics from the Hellenistic era. The mosaic depicts the seasons and the symbols of the zodiac with characteristic colors. The island is characterized by the unique coastline with a total length of 124 km. The large number of beaches offer the choice of cosmopolitan to remote beaches that allow absolute tranquility in a natural environment of unique natural beauty.

Astypalea is an important religious destination as its monasteries and chapels exceed 350. The main one is the church of Panagia Portaitissa, in Rodia below the Castle, one of the most beautiful Greek churches whitewashed with a blue dome and a separate bell tower. Next to it there is a small ecclesiastical museum with rare relics and old icons. The church of Megali Panagia also known as the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary is strongly reminiscent of the churches of the Cyclades and consists of five small temples, which compose an exceptional architectural building. The monastery of Panagia Flevariotissa, built on the rock above the town where part of the church is located inside a cave was a center of worship in antiquity. Opposite the monastery are the ruins of the castle of Agios Ioannis. In the Castle of Querini there are two churches, Panagia tou Kastrou and Agios Georgios. Other notable churches are Agios Nikolaos, Agios Ioannis, Agios Dimitrios, the small church of the Ascension, Agios Panteleimon, Agios Eleftherios and others.

The island has three caves which are connected with the tradition of the place. In Vathi, one finds the cave of Drakos, or Drakospilia which can be reached by boat. Inside you can admire impressive stalactites and stalagmites. In Vatses is the cave of Negro, in which there are also unique formations of stalagmites and stalactites. For this particular cave there are myths about pirates and about the treasures that are said to have been hidden in it. The third is located on the highest mountain of the island, in Castellano, where the cave of Panagia Poulariani, the patron saint of sailors, is located. The rock forms the Virgin Mary embracing the divine infant. According to tradition, in bad weather, light comes on the rocks. One should not miss a visit to the Baths of Talaras, where there are mosaics from the Hellenistic era. The mosaic depicts the seasons and the symbols of the zodiac with characteristic colors. The island is characterized by the unique coastline with a total length of 124 km. The large number of beaches offer the choice of cosmopolitan to remote beaches that allow absolute tranquility in a natural environment of unique natural beauty.

Two of the most beautiful and cosmopolitan beaches of the island are Pera Gialos with sand and crystal clear waters as well as Livadi, the organized beach of the island, which is about 1.5 km from Chora with sand and pebbles. Analipsi or Maltezana beach is located in the homonymous settlement 10 km from Chora is a beautiful beach with sand and natural shade. Tzanaki is the beach with the best view of Chora and the Venetian Castle a short distance from Livadi which can be visited even on foot. Other popular beaches are Tzanakia, Vatses, Agios Ioannis, Agios Konstantinos, Panormos, Plakes and Pachia Ammos. Kaminakia is a natural port that wins the impressions as one of the most beautiful and distant beaches of the island. In the remote islands near Astypalea there are beautiful beaches, which are accessible only by boats with the most famous beaches of Koutsomytis and Kounoupas.

Astypalea, in addition to fishing, is also involved in livestock and beekeeping, for this reason it is rich in local products. A famous recipe of the island are the ardista which are lentils with small balls of dough in the soup. The local rabbit cooked in various ways, the goat stuffed with rice and herbs, the "arantistes" lentils (that is, married to something like oatmeal), the yellow dolmadas and the zucchini flowers stand out. A well-known product of the island is also Saffron or Crocus. The recipes of Astypalea, in which the inhabitants use Saffron, are stuffed fried pouches, xerotigana, rusks, yellow cookies, shiny pies, caravolos, tomato meatballs and moray or any other fish. Favorite dessert is the "brilliant pies" made from local Astypalitiko cheese (clori) and native local saffron (saffron). Cheese-making is also developed with well-known products such as ladotyri, mizithra in a basket, green or wooden, a type of yogurt.

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