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The Cyclades, an archipelago in the mid-Aegean, consists of over 30 islands large and small plus hundreds of rocky islets and rocks. The largest island group in the Aegean, the Cylcades is also the most representative of the Aegean culture throughout the millennia.

From above, Amorgos looks otherworldly with the skeletal bareness of its high, treeless uplands and plunging coastal cliffs. Its peaks, jagged ridges and scree-lined hillsides look untrodden from afar. But as you get closer, the continual variations in the landscape become clear: the deep ravines, the bone dry gullies and verdant gullies, the small plateaus and low planes with their thin layer of fertile, all-nourishing soil. Visitors feel an inexplicable harmony provoked by the rough formations of the rocks combined with unsymmetrical forms. It is worth noting that unlike common images of beautiful landscapes one will rarely see greenery, though light and simplicity prevail. 

The signs of man’s multiple and various contributions to the appearance of this landscape are omnipresent, there to behold in even the most inaccessible places: dry stone walls for demarcation or protection, retaining walls, animal pens and humble cottages – all hard to make out, all perfectly in keeping with their setting. The observer then easily deduces that only human interference that covers basic needs is well-adapted to the essential features of the island. Anything excessive seems to intrude into the landscape.

The settlements atop rocky citadels attest to habitation from the late 4th millenium BC and can be witnessed in the fortified stone villages such as the one in Markiani.

Little has survived from the late 2nd millenium BC, save a pair of Mycenaean chamber tombs in Katapola. But there is much to remind us of the three cities - Aegiali, Minoa and Arkesini - which, founded after the Trojan Wars in the late 11th c. BC, survived through into the 4th c. AD. And the isolated forts – monumental, multi-purposed towers (late 4th-3rd c. BC) like those of the vilage of Arkesini or the one in Richti – are as numerous as they are interesting.

The visible remains of the Early Christian period, too, are somewhat sparse – just the humble but well-built 4th-century structure at Paradeisia. Fortunately more has come down to us from Byzantium and the troubled years of Iconomachy – the monastery of Hozoviotissa from the 8th-9th c. AD, the Theologos monastic dependency in Kroukellos and a fair number of chapels, such as the one of Vangelistra in Xylokeratidi. 


Today the easternmost island of the Cyclades counts two thousand permanent inhabitants, divided in six boroughs.  

Its ports, Katapola and the large bay in the basin of Aegiali are still the main centres of activity.

Chora has always been the centre of the island both geographically and administratively in modern years.

In Kato Meria, i.e. the southwest part, most people still work in the primary sector, resisting modern trends, reminding Greece as it used to be – simpler and more hospitable.


Written by:

Lila Marangou, Frederikos Krosman-Nasiopoulos


Cyclades, as the seagull flies, Anavasi pubications

Fotini Zafeiropoulou page 14

Lila Marangou page 18

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