Above: Folegandros coastline
Folegandros is a small island which, together with Sikinos, Ios, Anafi and Santorini, forms the southern part of the Cyclades. Its surface area is about 32 km². It has three small villages, Chora, Karavostasis, and Ano Meria with about 650 inhabitants all together. Folegandros is part of the Thira region.
Not much is known about the ancient history of Folegandros, only that its inhabitants were Dorians and that it later came under Athenian rule. The island was conquered in 1207 by the Venetian Marco Sanudo and remained under the rule of Venice until 1566, when it was taken by the Ottoman Turks. The Greeks reclaimed it in the 19th century.
The landscape of Folegandros is varied, including tall cliffs and a large cave. The main town of the island, Chora, is built on the edge of a 200-metre high cliff. The port of Folegandros is the small town of Karavostasis. The village of Ano Meria contains a small but interesting Ecological and Folklore Museum. Among the notable beaches on Folegandros is Katergo, accessible only by boat from Karavostasis.
The small island of Folegandros has become fashionable, but is still an unspoilt piece of Greece as we used to know it. Due to its simplicity and relaxing atmosphere Folegandros is known as the “island of Peace”.
Its three small villages are connected by paved roads and the landscape is characterised by the endless series of stonefences (low walls) that have been erected over centuries by the locals in order to create terraces on the sunny slopes for their crops.
In Chora, where no motor vehicles are allowed, you’ll find a unique “centre” of three successive squares with trees, where you can enjoy a cool drink or traditional dishes in a quiet, romantic atmosphere. The whole village is scented by the perfume of lime trees and occasionally by the local bread being baked, which by the way is delicious. Bougainvillea and Hibiscus flowers color the small wooden balconies around the 13th century castle (Kastro).
The church of Panaghia on the top of a hill, offers a nice walk and a magnificent view of Chora and the western coast. The area of Kastro, a small fortress made by the Venetians in 1210, which is like a small village inside Chora, will take you back to the Middle Ages.
The village of Ano Merià is spread over cultivated fields and stonewalls and has traditional “kafeneio” and taverns. It also hosts the Folkloristic Museum of the island, open from 10:00 to 18:00.
The island harbor’s, Karavostasi, also with a few shops and restaurants is today hosting several hotels, some of which are the best on Folegandros.
Things to see
Eco – Folklore Museum of Folegandros
The walls are built of stone and mud, with no plaster on the outside (this was done in order to make it less visible for the pirates). The roofs are built with special soil, seaweed and pressed ceilings with beams and slabs of native trees, the “feides”. The water they were using was just the rain water that flowed from the roofs into the cistern . To equip the rooms of the folklore museum items are collected by other houses, unique and rare, such as looms Kouroupia, pitchers Laginia, baskets, etc.
Ano Meria, Folegandros, Tel. +30 22860 41069
Open in the period: 1/7 – 15/9 Opening hours: 17.00-20.00.
The lighthouse of Aspropounta
Despite the name, the lighthouse is not actually in Aspropounta but in the neighbouring area of Kavos Michelou. It was built during 1919-1921 and operating by November 1921. It is located 58 m above sea level and the tower is 11 meters high. The light is visible at a distance of 17-20 nm. From September 1986 the operating mechanism is powered by solar energy. The lighthouse can be reached from Livadi or from Ano Meria.
The Cave of Chrysospilia is located on the northeast side of Folegandros and is distinguished for its rich and unique decoration that is developed on a 300 m long path. Special and rare finds are the cavepaints found on the walls of the cave. The majority of the paintings are the names of the ancient cave visitors stamped with an argillaceous material. Often referred to as the name of their companions as well as surname, declaration of their place of origin, as Cretan, Serifios, Naxios. Sometimes these names are of young men who took part in an initiatory ceremony. The few, so far, excavated findings (lamps with erotic scenes, phallus, etc.) are guiding us to understand the assisting in worship – initiatory nature of the cave.