Amorgos Island, Cyclades, Greece - Katapola & Aegiali
Amorgos is one of the Greek Cyclades islands located in the Aegean Sea 136 nautical miles south east of the mainland port of Piraeus. It's the easternmost Cycladic island, almost in the Dodecanese archipelago off the west coast of Turkey. Its distance from mainland Greece and the refusal of the islanders to succumb to the allurements of mass tourism have protected Amorgos from over-commercialisation. It's one of the Aegean's secret jewels -a paradise for hikers, honeymooners and those seeking a taste of the "real Greece ".
There's no airport here and the ferry trip from Piraeus is a gruelling 10 hours (so don't forget the sea sickness tablets if the water's rough). There's a weekly Flying Dolphin service to and from the mainland port of Rafina which will cut your journey time in half but cost you twice as much. Daily ferries connect the island with Naxos, Koufonisia, Shinousa, Iraklia and Paros and there are less frequent services to most of the other main Cycladic islands.
The island has two ports - Katapola and Aegiali - and most ferries call at both but check in advance that this is the case and make sure you get off at the right one because they're a 30-minute bus ride apart.
The ports are where the majority of holiday accommodation is to be found and there's plenty of it because tourism has started to take off on Amorgos in recent years though the island remains mercifully tranquil and unspoilt. It's become a trendy place to visit since the release of the cult French movie The Big Blue in 1988. The Luc Besson classic about two fiercely competitive divers was partly shot on Amorgos and features the wreck of the Olympus off the island's west coast.
Another of the island's claims to fame is that it was the inspiration for a poem by Nikos Gatsos, who was regarded as one of the greatest Greek poets of the 20th century. He wrote the poem, named after the island, during World War II at the height of the famine that decimated the population of Greece under the Nazis. It was his greatest ever work and was hugely influential on the post-war generation of Greek poets.
The main places of interest on the island include the lovely capital Hora with its picturesque houses, narrow winding alleyways and Venetian castle. The extraordinary Hozoviotissis monastery built into the side of a cliff on the island's east coast is one of the most impressive sights in the whole of the Cyclades. And for history buffs there are the ruins of an ancient Minoan civilisation and Temple of Apollo. The island was reputedly the summer residence of King Minos of Crete some 4,000 years ago.
Most visitors come here to simply relax on the uncrowded beaches, sip an ouzo or two and while away the hours in a traditional seaside taverna.
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