Legend has it that Amorgos Island is named after the rare therapeutic herb which grows on the slopes of the island’s mountains. The island was renamed “The Big Blue,” in 1998, when Luc Besson’s film gave movie fans breathtaking shots of Amorgos Island through the eyes and the life of the divers.
Even today every afternoon a café in Aegiali continuously screens the film … and it’s always full! The result of this is the French love the island and it is visited by thousands every year, even from May. It is no coincidence that many French live in Amorgos and have bought their own homes there.
History of Amorgos
Amorgos was first inhabited 6000 years ago, becoming an important center of the Cycladic and the Mycenaean civilizations. Centers were the ancient cities of Aigiali, Minoa and Arkesini.
During the Turkish occupation, it soon became a pirates den. Saracen pirates forced the island’s inhabitants to move to the castle of Chora and Kastri in Kato Meria. They were forced from the beaches and Katapola, the island’s port at that time, which was the largest natural harbor of the Cyclades with a one-nautical mile length!
Chora – The Capital
Chora, the capital, is situated in the heart of the island, adorned with a whitewashed village positioned high up on a steep, 65-meter cliff.
Atop the rock are the ruins of the 13th century Venetian castle, reminiscent of the history of the Cyclades. Chora is a typical example of Cycladic villages, with its whitewashed narrow streets lined with white houses and geraniums.
Chora’s main alley leads to Loza, the central town square with a quaint café nestled under the shade of a large eucalyptus. The Monastery of Kyra Eleousa, the oldest church of the island, sits near the square. Gavras Tower, a quaint Venetian mansion, is situated o Chora’s main street, which is now home to the spectacular archaeological finds of its ancient cities.
Katapola is the main port of Amorgos Island, located about 6 km from the town. There three picturesque settlements can be found – Katapola, Xylokeratidi, and Rachidi, laid around the bay. The harmonious colors of the lush green valley blend beautifully with the white houses.
The ancient Christian monument of Amorgos, the Church Panagia Katapoliani, also stands there in its glorious Cycladic architecture, along with the ruins of Ancient Minoa, which sits on Mount Moudoulia. Katapola is the heartbeat of the island, where the summer months bustle with tourists and also boasts an exciting nightlife.
The second port of Amorgos, Aegiali, sits in the northern part of the island. Its most picturesque villages are Potamos – famous for its sunsets, Lagada, dotted with its beautiful churches of Agia Triada and Panagia Panochoriani, and Tholaria with its spectacular bay views, cobblestone streets, and arches.
Many developments have been made in Aegiali over recent years, offering numerous opportunities regarding dining, accommodations, and nightlife. These improvements make it an ideal holiday destination for backpacking youths. For families, Katapola is a great option.
The Monastery of Panagia Chozoviotissa is the most impressive attraction Amorgos. It is also considered to be one of the 20 most beautiful monasteries in all of Greece.
The monument is built in a 300 meter-high cliff stretching an astounding 40 meters and a width of 5 meters. It’s only visible from the sea and is a 350 step climb to the top. Its name comes from the corruption of the name of a city in Palestine named Choziva. There is an icon of the Virgin Mary resting in the monastery. According to historical beliefs, Emperor Alexius Comnenos built the monastery in 1088.
The beach of Agia Anna lays below the monument where they shot the French film, “The Big Blue.”
Amorgos is rich with beaches suitable to any taste. Agios Pavlos Beach, located between Chora and Aegiali is a white pebble beach with crystal clear water and a strip of sand, making it a truly impressive beach.
The Beach of Mourou, is embellished with huge rocks springing from its deep blue waters to form a unique landscape.
Aegiali Beach is the island’s longest sandy beach. Others with crystal clear waters include the Bay of Kalotaritissa, the quaint Beach of Vlychada, as well as the Bay of Liberia – all of which are great for swimming. The famous Olympia shipwreck lies near Kalotaritissa beach at the southwestern coast of Amorgos.