Unspoiled Beauty of Anafi
Anafi, in Greek Mythology, is said to have risen from the waters of the Aegean Sea to give shelter to the Argonauts. What one believes, or chooses not to believe is up to them. But no one can argue the island is stunning. In keeping with the Cyclades architecture, the islands homes, chapels and other structures are white-washed, with domed roofs, and line the beautiful stone-paved alleys, especially in Hora. The town was built upon the ruins of a Venetian castle, and is simply enchanting.
What to Do in Anafi
* 18 km long trails allow tourists to enjoy how life is on the island, either by walking, cycling, or even on a donkey ride. Hiking the Footpaths won’t disappoint anyone who enjoys nature.
* Be sure to explore ancient Anafi on Kasteli Hill, where monumental tombs are found.
* The eastern part of Anafi will astound climbers who enjoy a challenge. The island boasts the highest monolithic limestone, second only to Gibraltar. While there, a visit to the ancient temple of Apollo the Anafian won’t disappoint, nor will the Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi. Climbers will also enjoy another challenge up to the monastery atop Kalamos, Kalamiotissa Monastery–a worthwhile hike that will provide you with breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea and the neighboring islands, as well as exploring the interesting architectural features of the monastery. It’s hard to reach on foot, and inaccessible by sea and at times, was inhabited occasionally.
The Town of Hora (Chora)
Hora or Chora is unique in its architecture, in comparison to other Cycladic islands, as much of the town is populated with arched single-room homes. The town’s roads are made of cobble stone and lead to various must-see places, including the Venetian Castle that’s not to be missed. Like on every other Greek Island, you’ll find numerous churches scattered about the town. Hora is a wonderfully safe town, as vehicles are NOT permitted, so people can freely enjoy the town’s taverns and sites.
The ruins of the Asty are found on the hill that was founded by the Dorians, around the 8th century BC.
Exploring Anafi Island’s Countryside
Exploring Anafi will expose clusters of unique farmhouses known as “katoikies,” many of which have been declared protected structures. Each katoikia is actually made up of eight structures or buildings. Although the island’s landscape is quite bare and arid, there are still lots of farms with livestock in proximity to the many valleys and gorges, which are a vital part of the island’s economy. There are vineyards, figs and prickly pears, olive trees and beekeeping in areas like Vagia, Drapano, Roukounas, and more.
The countryside is also dotted with pretty chapels on the hillsides, and many with historical significance. The remains of an ancient observatory tower can be found at Pyrgi, located on the southwestern edge of Anafi.
The Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi (above)
A site to take in is the monastery that is built across the narrow isthmus that is separated from the main island, and over the ancient temple of Apollo Aeglitis, where some walls are still visible and built into the modern monastery. The site may also be reached by car today, since an asphalt road was constructed.
The Footpaths of Anafi Island
Footpath from Hora (Chora) to Zoodochos Pigi Monastery
Tourists that prefer to explore rather than lie on a beach all day will find Anafi has so much to offer. There are challenging areas of the countryside that can be reached through following the extensive footpaths on the island. There are 18 kilometers of footpaths that cover almost the entire island and that lead to special destinations with historical significance. The footpath begins just outside Hora (Chora) and guides hikers accordingly with posted signs. Mostly, the footpath runs parallel to the coast, crossing the island in the southern section, which provides hikers directly toward the island’s most beautiful beaches. The Footpath, which is well-preserved is interrupted by the main road, also leads hikers to the Monastery, which is also the end of the path. The total time to travel the Footpath is approximately 2.5 hours.
Footpath from Kastelli to Zoodochos Pigi Monastery
This footpath is very well preserved, especially at the archaeological site. Hikers will come across the ruins of ancient tombs, and further to the temple of Apollo, and on to Mount Chalepas. At the monastery, hikers will experience an impressive view of the sea as they approach the isthmus. The average time to travel the Footpath is approximately 1.5 hours.
The Footpath of Agios Mamas to Agios Antonios
From Agios Mamas, hikers follow the path that leads northwest. They’ll come across a cluster of traditional homes, where the dirt road ends at Agios Dimitrios. From there, hikers will be lead downhill to experience an impressive view of the sea and ancient ruins. Kastraki will expose the monastery of Agios Antonios, which boasts unique architecture and Byzantine frescoes. The average time to travel the footpath is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Beginning at the Monastery, the footpath passes above the Bay of Chalara. This is a more challenging footpath that can be steep at times, and even dangerous, although railings are in place in those more trying areas. The views along the footpath are incredible, so hikers will be rewarded in this way, in addition to reaching the destinations and entering Monastery. Panagia Church entry requires prior arrangements, however. The total average time to complete this route is approximately 1.5 hours.
The Footpaths of Chora to Lakkous
This footpath begins at the center of the town heading north and into the heart of the island. This route is generally uphill and leads to the Byzantine Chapel of Stavros. Following is a rural road that passes Vigla Mountain on the western side, with a landscape that boasts numerous farmhouses. At this point, the footpath continues downhill and leads to the destination–Lakkous. The average travel time to complete the route is approximately 1.5 hours.