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Many have dropped by Amorgos: pirates, 19th-century travellers, 70s hippies and locals from other Cyclades islands who sought oracles from the “chattering waters” of Ai Giorgis Varsamitis. But now it’s your time to discover an island whose venerable traditions, old paths and remote villages will make you forget the 20th century, never mind the 21st.
Making a pilgrimage to Agia Anna beach, where Luc Besson shot The Big Blue, is a must. As is lighting a candle in the awe-inspiring Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa and walking up to the castle-topped main town, with its cobblestone Cycladic streets.
Other highlights on Amorgos include taking a boat ride from Katapola or Aigiali, the island’s two ports, and sipping nightcaps of rakomelo, the homemade honeyed firewater.
This is perhaps the most unusual monastery in the Aegean and one of the most significant sights on Amorgos. Impossibly tall and narrow, it seems painted onto the sheer rockface at first sight. In reality, it’s slotted into it. You’ll have to climb 300 steep steps, enter through a narrow door and make it up a further eight storeys, each one only 5 metres wide. When you reach the main 1,000-year-old church, adorned with Byzantine icons of the Virgin Mary, you’ll know it was worth the effort. The view is the best in Amorgos.
A twisty road leads to the beach at Agia Anna. With its endless view of the sea, you’ll know how Luc Besson’s film The Big Blue got its name and became synonymous with Amorgos and Greece. The incredibly clear water and rocks to dive from make Agia Anna one of the most enticing swimming spots in the Cyclades. Now, you’ll be the star.
The phrase belongs to archaeologist Lila Maragkou, who walked all over Amorgos for years, turning up archaeological treasures as she went. What should you look for as you do your own exploring? The remains of three ancient city-states, Arkesini, Minoa and Aigiali; women making fava (yellow split-pea dip), a Cycladic speciality; diviners searching for underground water; locals playing boules; Ai Giorgis tou Varsamiti, where the “chattering brook” was thought to foretell the future; and the no-man’s-land at Krikelos, riddled with mines and gullies. The longer the search, the greater the reward.
Hidden from pirates’ eyes, the Hora and castle of Amorgos reflect their Byzantine and Venetian past. So for a memorable view of the Aegean, make sure you stroll all the way up to the castle. Below you, the lovely Voreina quarter is full of houses with wells and olive presses. You’ll want to investigate the abandoned windmills at Troulos, the shops and cafes at Platystenos, and relax in Kalogerikos Milos (Monk’s Mill Square), a veritable balcony over the Aegean.
Which of Amorgos’ two harbours will you choose as the ideal backdrop for your holiday? The music and lounge bars on the sandy beach of Lakki at Aigiali, or family-friendly Katapola with its traditional cafes and long walks along the shore? Your choice.
Learn the story of a very special child who left his mark on the rocks of Asfondylitis back in 1888, when he drew the now iconic image of the short-legged dancing figures holding violins.
Amorgos’s trademark schnapps-like drinks are inescapable. You’ll be trying them everywhere… in cafes, tavernas and bars.
A 16th-century building of Venetian architecture found in the centre of Hora. Today, it’s a museum with findings from excavations in the surrounding area, featuring some remarkable sculptures and inscriptions.
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