KARPATHOS

KARPATHOS - Authentic Greek atmosphere

Karpathos is located between Rhodes and Crete and is often referred to as the jewel of the Dodecanese archipelago. It is a very traditional island whose inhabitants take care to preserve centuries old local traditions and where visitors will discover the authenticity and warmth of Greece much as it was fifty years ago. Although the town of Karpathos has a busy waterfront with plenty of cafes and restaurants, the island has not given itself over to mass tourism and visitors will be free to discover its many beautiful secluded beaches with golden sands and crystal waters on their own.

Because of the distance to the other islands, Karpathos has started developing only in the last decades. In fact, the southern side of the island has mostly developed in tourism, while the central and the northern side have remained unspoiled and authentic, with picturesque villages far away from mass tourism. The island is an ideal destination for travelers looking for a quiet holiday.

Geography

The island of Karpathos is the second largest island of the Dodecanese, located at the southern part of the cluster. It covers an area of 301 m², has a coastline of 160 km and has 6.500 inhabitants. Kali Limni is the highest mountain of the island, 1.215 meters high, and is full of water springs, pine-tree forests, vineyards, olives and fruit-bearing trees.

The island offers a great variety of scenery; it is distinguished by rugged mountains in the northern and central part, whilst it has fertile plains and valleys in the south and an abundance of wildflowers during winter and spring.

Moreover stunning beaches without crowds are nestled between the island's craggy cliffs. Pigadia is the capital and the main port of the island and there are in total 12 villages, each of them distinct in their own way.

 

The climate of Karpathos is definitely Mediterranean. One main characteristic of the Mediterranean climate are the strong winds during summer well-known as Meltemi, whereas during wintertime there are low levels of rain and mild temperatures.

Main destinations

Pigadia

Pigadia is the capital and main port of Karpathos. It gathers a population of about 2500 inhabitants most of whom are engaged in agriculture and fishing. The settlement is built on the edge of Vronti Bay, a natural port with a sandy beach that stretches out over 4 kilometers. The town displays an important collection of traditional houses built by nobles and Greeks who came back from the United States. On the left side of the entrance of the harbour dominates a rock where the ruins of the ancient acropolis of the island can be seen. In the heart of this attractive small town all the public services of Karpathos can be found as well as plenty of local shops. The narrow alleys and the beautiful houses with their red tiled roofs and balconies make Pigadia a charming place that impresses every visitor in Karpathos.

Some of the most interesting spots are the Acropolis of ancient Poseidion, the ruins of the early -Christian basilica of Saint Fotini, the monumental tomb in the cave of Neptune and the small museum of the town. Long sandy beaches are stretching north of Pigadia. Very cosmopolitan are the beaches Kira Panagia and Agios Nikolaos that distinguish for their good organization. Isolated beaches combining green surroundings with beautiful shores and crystal clear waters can be reached by boat. The capital is the most organized tourist region on the island. All types of accommodation can be found here as well as plenty of taverns, cafes and nightclubs playing both Greek and foreign music.

Olympos

Olympos is a village of exceptional beauty, located 58 km northwest of Pigadia. The road crosses traditional villages, beautiful green valleys and verdant cliffs until one reaches the beautiful settlement that lies on the slopes of a mountain. The demanding journey from Pigadia to Olympos takes about 3 hours, following the main paved road from Pigadia to the village of Spoa then continuing with the unpaved road to Olympos.

Today, the village has a population of 400 inhabitants most of whom are engaged in farming and agriculture. Houses in Olympos are built amidst lush green forests and preserve their traditional colour and layout. Olympos retains an old fashioned way of life where primitive customs play an important role. The village seems to be caught in a time wrap; the inhabitants speak a dialect with traces of ancient Dorian Greek and Phrygian origins, women wear their traditional costumes (fine handmade goatskin boots, intricately embroided jackets, scarves and pinafores, heavy collars of gold coins). They bake bread and Greek style biscuits (koulouria) in outdoor communal ovens from flour ground in the village's medieval windmills. Transport within the village is done by donkeys and even if people are now getting used to visitors, life still goes on in the same way as centuries ago.

Many churches are found close to Olympos village, such as the 16th century church of Panagia in the square that celebrates on August 15th. Every year, on that particular day, the village organizes a big festival dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin; women wear traditional costumes, men play traditional musical instruments and there is food and dancing for everyone. Olympos is one of Karpathos’ highlights with its excellent views. The village itself is a live museum with an idyllic atmosphere when the clouds come down and surround the village. There are a few rooms to let, a couple of pensions and plenty places to taste the traditional dishes.

Diafani

Diafani is the second port of Karpathos. It is located on the northern side of the island, 67 km north of Pigadia and about 10 km east of the beautiful Olympos village. The picturesque Diafani village is built around a small bay. The white houses with flat roofs are built around the sheltered bay with a nice view to the fishing boats and the port. Over the last years, Diafani is developing as a tourist village. It has small, family hotels and lovely fish taverns. Frequently tour boats arrive in Diafani. Vananda beach, a small pebbled beach with clear waters and trees for shade, lies next to the port.

Amoopi

The village is located half way from the airport on the way to Pigadia. The endless view with the open horizon, the crystal beaches, the brilliant light of the sun, the dry climate, the cool wind with zero humidity compose magic and a dream of the Aegean island. As one of the main tourist resorts, Amoopi has excellent accommodation, taverns, restaurants, rental car and motorbikes and all the facilities of communication and transport. The beaches of Ammoopi unfold and extend for roughly six kilometers from "Pouliou to Potami beach" up to "Fokia beach". In a small distance beyond are in offer the immense beaches of Afiartis, ideal for sea sports, wind-surfing and other enjoyments and activities.

Aperi

Aperi is a wonderful mountainous village that is distinguished from the rest of the Carpathian villages for its shine. It has existed as the capital of Karpathos Island from 1700 until 1892. When dangers from sea eliminated, the capital of the island was moved from Aperi - which could not be seen from the sea - to Pigadia which was situated on the seaside. But nobility from those times still remained. Aperi is located north of Pigadia and lies at an altitude of 320 meters amidst lush green, on the slopes of Mount Hamali at the top of which one can see the remains of the Venetian castle.

The village is a good example of traditional architecture built by immigrants from the Unites States. The narrow streets, the imposing mansions, the church of St. Charalambos and the greenery that surround the village, will enchant any visitor. Although the majority of the inhabitants of the village have migrated - mainly to the United States – it is remarkable how the people have maintained their houses according to tradition. Nothing seems abandoned or deserted although most people don't live in the village all year round. In close distance to the village, several paths lead to the pebbled beach of Ahata and to the beautiful beaches of Kyra Panagia and Apella. Accommodation, cafes and taverns are also available around the village and during the summer season, locals organize festivals with traditional dances and songs.

Arkassa

Arkassa is a beautiful coastal village on the south western side of Karpathos, 16 km from Pigadia. It is built in a verdurous location and impresses with its green nature, beautiful beaches and important historic monuments. Although this village has many tourist facilities, it still keeps its authentic traditional colour with the paved streets, the stone houses and the nice churches. Close to the village of Arkassa, there is a relaxing beach with fine sand and clean water. On the hill Paleokastro above the village, there are the remains of the ancient town of Arkessia.

Next to the ancient acropolis of Arkessia, there are the remains of a 5th century Early Christian church of Saint Anastasia with an impressive fresco in the yard. The region surrounding Arkassa impresses visitors with the virgin beauty and it has many trekking paths. Just a few kilometers outside Arkassa is the settlement Finiki with the picturesque fish port and the magnificent beaches Fokia, Adia, Akrotiri and Proni. Arkassa is a developing tourist resort with hotels and rooms to let. There are also taverns, bars and shops.

History

Traces of human life that have been found in Karpathos come from the end of the Neolithic Era (4.000-3.000 BC.). The first inhabitants of the island came from Asia Minor and were relatives with pre-Hellenic people who lived in Crete and other Greek islands. The primitive Neolithic civilization of Karpathos continued to the 3rd millennium until the arrival of the Minoan colonists from Crete (around 2.000 BC) who had a great influence on the civilization and history of Karpathos, bringing economic and cultural development to the island.

During the Era of Minoan sea domination and colonization (around 1.700-1.450 BC.), Karpathos seems to have had definite Minoan characteristics; a large population and cultural and economical development. The acropolis of Arkassa was built by the Mycenaean after arriving on the island in the 14th century BC. Then the Phoenicians arrived and then the Dorians, who settled in Karpathos around 1,000 BC and brought great prosperity, developing four fortified villages. The major village of those times was apparently Karpathos which was possibly situated in the area of Aperi.

This village as it is known today seemed to be the capital of the island the following years. It continued to be during the Ottoman occupation till 1892 A.D. when capital of the island became Pigadia, the seaport of the city of Karpathos in antiquity, and in those times was called "Poseidion". The other three cities were Arkesia, near the village of Arkassa, Vrykous, (today it is called Vroukounta, in the northwest of Karpathos) and Nisiros which possibly was situated on the island of Saria. Saria in ancient times was an independent island and was called Saros.

In 478 BC, Karpathos became member of the 1st Athenian Alliance. It was Athens’ ally during the Peloponnesian Wars that took place from 431 to 404 BC, but after the Athenian defeat, the island succumbed to the Spartans. After the sea battle of Knidos (in 394 BC), it became again part of the 2nd Athenian Alliance and got independent. During the Hellenistic Period a great part of the island was under the rule of the Lindian State.

Under the domination of the Romans, Karpathos became an island of strategic importance because it was one of the three Naval Stations of Rome in the Mediterranean. During the Byzantine Empire its strategic power has been maintained. Between 1204 and 1312 A.D. Karpathos was found in the centre of conflict among the Byzantines, the Genovese St. John Knights and the Venetians who claimed the island each for their own interests. The latter, with Andreas Kornaros, prevailed in the end and kept ruling Karpathos and Kassos till 1538 A.D. when Hayreddin Barbarossa occupied the islands on behalf of the Turks. With the beginning of the Greek Revolution for independence against the Turks on 1821, Karpathos also joined the fight and offered its land for refugees and gave money for the supply of the Greek revolutionary troops and the repair of the Greek ships.

The island of Karpathos became independent in 1823 but in 1830, the protocol of London gave the islands of the Dodecanese to the Turks. The Italians invaded the island in 1912 and named it Scarpanto. They were joined by the Germans who came on Karpathos in 1943, during World War II. Finally, Karpathos became part of the independent Greek State in March 1948 together with all the islands of the Dodecanese. Despite such a scattered past, the last half-century has been important in charactering the island. A war-ravaged economy sent many Carpathians to the East Coast cities of the United States. Karpathos today has a significant Greek-American constituency, immigrants who have returned to their beloved island and have invested heavily. As a result, Pigadia and other towns successfully infuse modern elements into a traditional setting. However up in the mountains north, a world unto itself, residents preserve tradition almost religiously.

Culture

The island is mostly characterized by its inhabitants, who are dedicated to preserve the customs of their ancestors. Ancient traditions can still be witnessed today by travellers visiting the island. In the northern part of Karpathos people still dress in their traditional colourful costumes in the everyday life. This devotion is due to the geographical position of the island (far away and isolated from the Greek Mainland) and to the genuine Greek spirit of the Carpathian people. One can attend Carpathian parties in Greek Orthodox celebrations and in social events especially weddings, baptisms and name days. Folk songs and rhymes composed and sung at the same time ("mantinades"), proverbs, riddles, tales, myths, games, wishes, oaths are part of the everyday life of people - younger and elder, men and women - since ancient times.

The most famous customs of the island are the Carpathian wedding and the custom “Efta” (meaning seven) for the birth of a child. Seven days after a baby is born family and friends are gathered and girls sing particular traditional songs while swinging the baby. “Alevra” (pastry made from flour, water, honey and butter) is made and offered to the guests. Although the duration of the Carpathian wedding nowadays has been shortened (it lasts 2-3 days whereas in the past it lasted 8 days), it is one of the most important Carpathian customs: the engagement, the preparations, the decoration of the Carpathian house (“siasmata”) for the wedding, the festivity before going to church “kathisto glenti”, the wedding ceremony in church, the second day of the wedding (“antigamos”) are some of the customs which comprise the Carpathian wedding.

A special place in the hearts of Carpathian people has the traditional festivity called ("kathisto glenti"). The men sit around a table with the musicians playing the traditional instruments, drinking wine, composing and singing songs. They are given the opportunity to express their feelings - joy or pain depending on the occasion. The "lyra", "lute", "tsambouna" and the "violin" are the traditional Carpathian musical instruments and are inseparable part of a Carpathian festivity. After singing and having expressed their feelings and thoughts and at the peak of cheerfulness the people feel the need to dance the traditional Carpathian dances. Some of these dances are: "Siganos", "Gonatistos", "Pano Choros", "Sousta", "Foumistos"(only in weddings), "Zervos", "Kefallonitika", "Antipatitis" and"Arkistis".

Gastronomy

Karpathos cuisine is primarily based on the island's own agricultural products. Nourished by the sea breeze of the Aegean and the all year round sunshine, these ingredients, which have almost exclusively been organically cultivated, give a unique taste to the traditional dishes that express the rich and varied cuisine of the island.

Karpathos specialties

Skaros yachni or the Karpathian fish as the locals call it as it only swims in the Karpathian Sea: Baked fish with tomatoes and onions

Karpathian Sardines: Local fish named Menoula cooked with salt to form a sardine type

Agriadia: Local kalamaria from the Karpathian Sea

Makarounes: Homemade pasta served with onions and cheese

Kolokythopoulia: Zucchini flowers stuffed with rice

Fakorizo: Lentils with rice

Manouli: Fresh local goat cheese

Kopeles: Herb pies

Ofto: Stuffed lamb baked for about 20 hours in the traditional Karpathian wooden oven

Sisamomeli: Sweets made from sesame and honey, served at weddings

Tourtes or Mizithropites: Pies filled with locally made Sitaka or Mizithra cheese

Karpathian Baklavas: Sweets with walnuts and honey

Psilokouloura: Baked biscuits with sesame

Events

Besides the many religious celebrations throughout the year, Karpathos organizes also some local cultural events with lots of music, wine and traditional dancing that goes on till the early morning hours. Through these small festivals, the island aims to highlight its traditional aspects and to pass on the old customs to the new generations.

  • “Piperi” festival

    On Lent Monday there is a big celebration in Othos. The local people dress up and follow a local custom called “Piperi”. Plenty of food and wine is offered.

  • Wine Festival in Lastos

    Near Volada up on the mountain Lastos, people are gathered to taste “Adam’s wine” as they call the wine that local families produce and celebrate the harvest of the year. Inseparable part of the celebration is the music with lyra and lute.

  • Tsambouna Festival

    The most important cultural event in Karpathos is the International Tsambouna (Bagpipe) Festival which is held every summer in Pigadia and Olympos.

  • Festival of Omonia

    Every August in the village of Aperi, a festival of traditional dances and songs takes place.

Excursion program

Olympos (Bus + Boat Tour)

Olympos (Bus + Boat Tour)

The excursion to traditional village Olympos, takes place with a boat, which starts from the main port of Karpathos Pigadia at 08:30 to the port of Diafani. From Diafani port we reach the beautiful village of Olympos by bus. Olympos is an impressive traditional village situated at the northern part of the island. The village combines an excellent natural environment with a very interesting traditional architectural style.

You will visit a church and the wind mils and also a typical Karpathian house and you will have plenty of time to walk around in its narrow paths, talk with the locals and try to live this mysterious atmosphere or to enjoy a delicious lunch. After we return to Diafani where you will have time to walk around or swim at the crystal turquoise water. At 18:00 we are back to Pigadia with fantastic memories!

Type of excursion: Full day
Should take: Swimsuit, sun protection, comfortable shoes, camera

Stops Approximate time of stay
Olympos 2½ hours
Diafani 1½ - 2 hours
Free time in Heraklion city 2 – 2½ hours
Back to Hotel 19:00 – 19:30
Karpathos Village Tour

Village Tour (Bus tour)

A bus tour around the South part of Karpathos Island. We visit quite lot villages, like Aperi, Volada, Othos, Piles, Mesochori.

At Aperi we visit the main Church, at Othos a traditional Karpathian house, at Piles the local museum,a walk around Mesochori with the narrow paths witch lead to stone wide stairs in the village’s old neighborhoods and finaly to Adeia where you have lunch under pine trees.

Type of excursion: Full day
Should take: Sun protection, comfortable shoes, camera

Stops Approximate time of stay
Aperi 20 min.
Volada 5 min.
Othos 30 min.
Othos 30 min.
Pyles 30 min.
Mesochori 50 min.
Adeia 3 hours
Back to Hotel 18:30 – 19:30
Blue Day (Boat Tour)

Blue Day (Boat Tour)

Kyra Panagia is one of the most famous and photographed beaches in Karpathos island. Take fantastic photos from the boat.

After that we reach the port of Agios Nikolaos where we are going to stay for about an hour. Agios Nikolaos traditional houses, harmonically built in the island's colouration and the fineness of the Aegean Sea render scenery is even more captivating.

Apela beach has voted as the most beautiful beach in all Mediterranean, on 2004. Swim in its turquoise, crystal-clear waters. The beach is fantastic, big and with pine trees, reaching close to the water where we are going to have a BBQ.

Type of excursion: Full day
Should take: Swimming suite, sun protection, comfortable shoes, camera

Stops Approximate time of stay
Kyra Panagia (30min)Photo stop form boat
Agios Nikolaos 1 hour
Apella 4 hours
Back to Hotel 18:00
 

KARPATHOS

KARPATHOS - Authentic Greek atmosphere

Karpathos is located between Rhodes and Crete and is often referred to as the jewel of the Dodecanese archipelago. It is a very traditional island whose inhabitants take care to preserve centuries old local traditions and where visitors will discover the authenticity and warmth of Greece much as it was fifty years ago. Although the town of Karpathos has a busy waterfront with plenty of cafes and restaurants, the island has not given itself over to mass tourism and visitors will be free to discover its many beautiful secluded beaches with golden sands and crystal waters on their own.

Because of the distance to the other islands, Karpathos has started developing only in the last decades. In fact, the southern side of the island has mostly developed in tourism, while the central and the northern side have remained unspoiled and authentic, with picturesque villages far away from mass tourism. The island is an ideal destination for travelers looking for a quiet holiday.

Geography

The island of Karpathos is the second largest island of the Dodecanese, located at the southern part of the cluster. It covers an area of 301 m², has a coastline of 160 km and has 6.500 inhabitants. Kali Limni is the highest mountain of the island, 1.215 meters high, and is full of water springs, pine-tree forests, vineyards, olives and fruit-bearing trees.

The island offers a great variety of scenery; it is distinguished by rugged mountains in the northern and central part, whilst it has fertile plains and valleys in the south and an abundance of wildflowers during winter and spring.

Moreover stunning beaches without crowds are nestled between the island's craggy cliffs. Pigadia is the capital and the main port of the island and there are in total 12 villages, each of them distinct in their own way.

 

The climate of Karpathos is definitely Mediterranean. One main characteristic of the Mediterranean climate are the strong winds during summer well-known as Meltemi, whereas during wintertime there are low levels of rain and mild temperatures.

Main destinations

Pigadia

Pigadia is the capital and main port of Karpathos. It gathers a population of about 2500 inhabitants most of whom are engaged in agriculture and fishing. The settlement is built on the edge of Vronti Bay, a natural port with a sandy beach that stretches out over 4 kilometers. The town displays an important collection of traditional houses built by nobles and Greeks who came back from the United States. On the left side of the entrance of the harbour dominates a rock where the ruins of the ancient acropolis of the island can be seen. In the heart of this attractive small town all the public services of Karpathos can be found as well as plenty of local shops. The narrow alleys and the beautiful houses with their red tiled roofs and balconies make Pigadia a charming place that impresses every visitor in Karpathos.

Some of the most interesting spots are the Acropolis of ancient Poseidion, the ruins of the early -Christian basilica of Saint Fotini, the monumental tomb in the cave of Neptune and the small museum of the town. Long sandy beaches are stretching north of Pigadia. Very cosmopolitan are the beaches Kira Panagia and Agios Nikolaos that distinguish for their good organization. Isolated beaches combining green surroundings with beautiful shores and crystal clear waters can be reached by boat. The capital is the most organized tourist region on the island. All types of accommodation can be found here as well as plenty of taverns, cafes and nightclubs playing both Greek and foreign music.

Olympos

Olympos is a village of exceptional beauty, located 58 km northwest of Pigadia. The road crosses traditional villages, beautiful green valleys and verdant cliffs until one reaches the beautiful settlement that lies on the slopes of a mountain. The demanding journey from Pigadia to Olympos takes about 3 hours, following the main paved road from Pigadia to the village of Spoa then continuing with the unpaved road to Olympos.

Today, the village has a population of 400 inhabitants most of whom are engaged in farming and agriculture. Houses in Olympos are built amidst lush green forests and preserve their traditional colour and layout. Olympos retains an old fashioned way of life where primitive customs play an important role. The village seems to be caught in a time wrap; the inhabitants speak a dialect with traces of ancient Dorian Greek and Phrygian origins, women wear their traditional costumes (fine handmade goatskin boots, intricately embroided jackets, scarves and pinafores, heavy collars of gold coins). They bake bread and Greek style biscuits (koulouria) in outdoor communal ovens from flour ground in the village's medieval windmills. Transport within the village is done by donkeys and even if people are now getting used to visitors, life still goes on in the same way as centuries ago.

Many churches are found close to Olympos village, such as the 16th century church of Panagia in the square that celebrates on August 15th. Every year, on that particular day, the village organizes a big festival dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin; women wear traditional costumes, men play traditional musical instruments and there is food and dancing for everyone. Olympos is one of Karpathos’ highlights with its excellent views. The village itself is a live museum with an idyllic atmosphere when the clouds come down and surround the village. There are a few rooms to let, a couple of pensions and plenty places to taste the traditional dishes.

Diafani

Diafani is the second port of Karpathos. It is located on the northern side of the island, 67 km north of Pigadia and about 10 km east of the beautiful Olympos village. The picturesque Diafani village is built around a small bay. The white houses with flat roofs are built around the sheltered bay with a nice view to the fishing boats and the port. Over the last years, Diafani is developing as a tourist village. It has small, family hotels and lovely fish taverns. Frequently tour boats arrive in Diafani. Vananda beach, a small pebbled beach with clear waters and trees for shade, lies next to the port.

Amoopi

The village is located half way from the airport on the way to Pigadia. The endless view with the open horizon, the crystal beaches, the brilliant light of the sun, the dry climate, the cool wind with zero humidity compose magic and a dream of the Aegean island. As one of the main tourist resorts, Amoopi has excellent accommodation, taverns, restaurants, rental car and motorbikes and all the facilities of communication and transport. The beaches of Ammoopi unfold and extend for roughly six kilometers from "Pouliou to Potami beach" up to "Fokia beach". In a small distance beyond are in offer the immense beaches of Afiartis, ideal for sea sports, wind-surfing and other enjoyments and activities.

Aperi

Aperi is a wonderful mountainous village that is distinguished from the rest of the Carpathian villages for its shine. It has existed as the capital of Karpathos Island from 1700 until 1892. When dangers from sea eliminated, the capital of the island was moved from Aperi - which could not be seen from the sea - to Pigadia which was situated on the seaside. But nobility from those times still remained. Aperi is located north of Pigadia and lies at an altitude of 320 meters amidst lush green, on the slopes of Mount Hamali at the top of which one can see the remains of the Venetian castle.

The village is a good example of traditional architecture built by immigrants from the Unites States. The narrow streets, the imposing mansions, the church of St. Charalambos and the greenery that surround the village, will enchant any visitor. Although the majority of the inhabitants of the village have migrated - mainly to the United States – it is remarkable how the people have maintained their houses according to tradition. Nothing seems abandoned or deserted although most people don't live in the village all year round. In close distance to the village, several paths lead to the pebbled beach of Ahata and to the beautiful beaches of Kyra Panagia and Apella. Accommodation, cafes and taverns are also available around the village and during the summer season, locals organize festivals with traditional dances and songs.

Arkassa

Arkassa is a beautiful coastal village on the south western side of Karpathos, 16 km from Pigadia. It is built in a verdurous location and impresses with its green nature, beautiful beaches and important historic monuments. Although this village has many tourist facilities, it still keeps its authentic traditional colour with the paved streets, the stone houses and the nice churches. Close to the village of Arkassa, there is a relaxing beach with fine sand and clean water. On the hill Paleokastro above the village, there are the remains of the ancient town of Arkessia.

Next to the ancient acropolis of Arkessia, there are the remains of a 5th century Early Christian church of Saint Anastasia with an impressive fresco in the yard. The region surrounding Arkassa impresses visitors with the virgin beauty and it has many trekking paths. Just a few kilometers outside Arkassa is the settlement Finiki with the picturesque fish port and the magnificent beaches Fokia, Adia, Akrotiri and Proni. Arkassa is a developing tourist resort with hotels and rooms to let. There are also taverns, bars and shops.

History

Traces of human life that have been found in Karpathos come from the end of the Neolithic Era (4.000-3.000 BC.). The first inhabitants of the island came from Asia Minor and were relatives with pre-Hellenic people who lived in Crete and other Greek islands. The primitive Neolithic civilization of Karpathos continued to the 3rd millennium until the arrival of the Minoan colonists from Crete (around 2.000 BC) who had a great influence on the civilization and history of Karpathos, bringing economic and cultural development to the island.

During the Era of Minoan sea domination and colonization (around 1.700-1.450 BC.), Karpathos seems to have had definite Minoan characteristics; a large population and cultural and economical development. The acropolis of Arkassa was built by the Mycenaean after arriving on the island in the 14th century BC. Then the Phoenicians arrived and then the Dorians, who settled in Karpathos around 1,000 BC and brought great prosperity, developing four fortified villages. The major village of those times was apparently Karpathos which was possibly situated in the area of Aperi.

This village as it is known today seemed to be the capital of the island the following years. It continued to be during the Ottoman occupation till 1892 A.D. when capital of the island became Pigadia, the seaport of the city of Karpathos in antiquity, and in those times was called "Poseidion". The other three cities were Arkesia, near the village of Arkassa, Vrykous, (today it is called Vroukounta, in the northwest of Karpathos) and Nisiros which possibly was situated on the island of Saria. Saria in ancient times was an independent island and was called Saros.

In 478 BC, Karpathos became member of the 1st Athenian Alliance. It was Athens’ ally during the Peloponnesian Wars that took place from 431 to 404 BC, but after the Athenian defeat, the island succumbed to the Spartans. After the sea battle of Knidos (in 394 BC), it became again part of the 2nd Athenian Alliance and got independent. During the Hellenistic Period a great part of the island was under the rule of the Lindian State.

Under the domination of the Romans, Karpathos became an island of strategic importance because it was one of the three Naval Stations of Rome in the Mediterranean. During the Byzantine Empire its strategic power has been maintained. Between 1204 and 1312 A.D. Karpathos was found in the centre of conflict among the Byzantines, the Genovese St. John Knights and the Venetians who claimed the island each for their own interests. The latter, with Andreas Kornaros, prevailed in the end and kept ruling Karpathos and Kassos till 1538 A.D. when Hayreddin Barbarossa occupied the islands on behalf of the Turks. With the beginning of the Greek Revolution for independence against the Turks on 1821, Karpathos also joined the fight and offered its land for refugees and gave money for the supply of the Greek revolutionary troops and the repair of the Greek ships.

The island of Karpathos became independent in 1823 but in 1830, the protocol of London gave the islands of the Dodecanese to the Turks. The Italians invaded the island in 1912 and named it Scarpanto. They were joined by the Germans who came on Karpathos in 1943, during World War II. Finally, Karpathos became part of the independent Greek State in March 1948 together with all the islands of the Dodecanese. Despite such a scattered past, the last half-century has been important in charactering the island. A war-ravaged economy sent many Carpathians to the East Coast cities of the United States. Karpathos today has a significant Greek-American constituency, immigrants who have returned to their beloved island and have invested heavily. As a result, Pigadia and other towns successfully infuse modern elements into a traditional setting. However up in the mountains north, a world unto itself, residents preserve tradition almost religiously.

Culture

The island is mostly characterized by its inhabitants, who are dedicated to preserve the customs of their ancestors. Ancient traditions can still be witnessed today by travellers visiting the island. In the northern part of Karpathos people still dress in their traditional colourful costumes in the everyday life. This devotion is due to the geographical position of the island (far away and isolated from the Greek Mainland) and to the genuine Greek spirit of the Carpathian people. One can attend Carpathian parties in Greek Orthodox celebrations and in social events especially weddings, baptisms and name days. Folk songs and rhymes composed and sung at the same time ("mantinades"), proverbs, riddles, tales, myths, games, wishes, oaths are part of the everyday life of people - younger and elder, men and women - since ancient times.

The most famous customs of the island are the Carpathian wedding and the custom “Efta” (meaning seven) for the birth of a child. Seven days after a baby is born family and friends are gathered and girls sing particular traditional songs while swinging the baby. “Alevra” (pastry made from flour, water, honey and butter) is made and offered to the guests. Although the duration of the Carpathian wedding nowadays has been shortened (it lasts 2-3 days whereas in the past it lasted 8 days), it is one of the most important Carpathian customs: the engagement, the preparations, the decoration of the Carpathian house (“siasmata”) for the wedding, the festivity before going to church “kathisto glenti”, the wedding ceremony in church, the second day of the wedding (“antigamos”) are some of the customs which comprise the Carpathian wedding.

A special place in the hearts of Carpathian people has the traditional festivity called ("kathisto glenti"). The men sit around a table with the musicians playing the traditional instruments, drinking wine, composing and singing songs. They are given the opportunity to express their feelings - joy or pain depending on the occasion. The "lyra", "lute", "tsambouna" and the "violin" are the traditional Carpathian musical instruments and are inseparable part of a Carpathian festivity. After singing and having expressed their feelings and thoughts and at the peak of cheerfulness the people feel the need to dance the traditional Carpathian dances. Some of these dances are: "Siganos", "Gonatistos", "Pano Choros", "Sousta", "Foumistos"(only in weddings), "Zervos", "Kefallonitika", "Antipatitis" and"Arkistis".

Gastronomy

Karpathos cuisine is primarily based on the island's own agricultural products. Nourished by the sea breeze of the Aegean and the all year round sunshine, these ingredients, which have almost exclusively been organically cultivated, give a unique taste to the traditional dishes that express the rich and varied cuisine of the island.

Karpathos specialties

Skaros yachni or the Karpathian fish as the locals call it as it only swims in the Karpathian Sea: Baked fish with tomatoes and onions

Karpathian Sardines: Local fish named Menoula cooked with salt to form a sardine type

Agriadia: Local kalamaria from the Karpathian Sea

Makarounes: Homemade pasta served with onions and cheese

Kolokythopoulia: Zucchini flowers stuffed with rice

Fakorizo: Lentils with rice

Manouli: Fresh local goat cheese

Kopeles: Herb pies

Ofto: Stuffed lamb baked for about 20 hours in the traditional Karpathian wooden oven

Sisamomeli: Sweets made from sesame and honey, served at weddings

Tourtes or Mizithropites: Pies filled with locally made Sitaka or Mizithra cheese

Karpathian Baklavas: Sweets with walnuts and honey

Psilokouloura: Baked biscuits with sesame

Events

Besides the many religious celebrations throughout the year, Karpathos organizes also some local cultural events with lots of music, wine and traditional dancing that goes on till the early morning hours. Through these small festivals, the island aims to highlight its traditional aspects and to pass on the old customs to the new generations.

  • “Piperi” festival

    On Lent Monday there is a big celebration in Othos. The local people dress up and follow a local custom called “Piperi”. Plenty of food and wine is offered.

  • Wine Festival in Lastos

    Near Volada up on the mountain Lastos, people are gathered to taste “Adam’s wine” as they call the wine that local families produce and celebrate the harvest of the year. Inseparable part of the celebration is the music with lyra and lute.

  • Tsambouna Festival

    The most important cultural event in Karpathos is the International Tsambouna (Bagpipe) Festival which is held every summer in Pigadia and Olympos.

  • Festival of Omonia

    Every August in the village of Aperi, a festival of traditional dances and songs takes place.

Excursion program

Olympos (Bus + Boat Tour)

Olympos (Bus + Boat Tour)

The excursion to traditional village Olympos, takes place with a boat, which starts from the main port of Karpathos Pigadia at 08:30 to the port of Diafani. From Diafani port we reach the beautiful village of Olympos by bus. Olympos is an impressive traditional village situated at the northern part of the island. The village combines an excellent natural environment with a very interesting traditional architectural style.

You will visit a church and the wind mils and also a typical Karpathian house and you will have plenty of time to walk around in its narrow paths, talk with the locals and try to live this mysterious atmosphere or to enjoy a delicious lunch. After we return to Diafani where you will have time to walk around or swim at the crystal turquoise water. At 18:00 we are back to Pigadia with fantastic memories!

Type of excursion: Full day
Should take: Swimsuit, sun protection, comfortable shoes, camera

Stops Approximate time of stay
Olympos 2½ hours
Diafani 1½ - 2 hours
Free time in Heraklion city 2 – 2½ hours
Back to Hotel 19:00 – 19:30
Karpathos Village Tour

Village Tour (Bus tour)

A bus tour around the South part of Karpathos Island. We visit quite lot villages, like Aperi, Volada, Othos, Piles, Mesochori.

At Aperi we visit the main Church, at Othos a traditional Karpathian house, at Piles the local museum,a walk around Mesochori with the narrow paths witch lead to stone wide stairs in the village’s old neighborhoods and finaly to Adeia where you have lunch under pine trees.

Type of excursion: Full day
Should take: Sun protection, comfortable shoes, camera

Stops Approximate time of stay
Aperi 20 min.
Volada 5 min.
Othos 30 min.
Othos 30 min.
Pyles 30 min.
Mesochori 50 min.
Adeia 3 hours
Back to Hotel 18:30 – 19:30
Blue Day (Boat Tour)

Blue Day (Boat Tour)

Kyra Panagia is one of the most famous and photographed beaches in Karpathos island. Take fantastic photos from the boat.

After that we reach the port of Agios Nikolaos where we are going to stay for about an hour. Agios Nikolaos traditional houses, harmonically built in the island's colouration and the fineness of the Aegean Sea render scenery is even more captivating.

Apela beach has voted as the most beautiful beach in all Mediterranean, on 2004. Swim in its turquoise, crystal-clear waters. The beach is fantastic, big and with pine trees, reaching close to the water where we are going to have a BBQ.

Type of excursion: Full day
Should take: Swimming suite, sun protection, comfortable shoes, camera

Stops Approximate time of stay
Kyra Panagia (30min)Photo stop form boat
Agios Nikolaos 1 hour
Apella 4 hours
Back to Hotel 18:00