Amorgos is the easternmost island of the Cyclades. Dramatically rugged, with beautiful high cliffs that plunge into the sea, Amorgos has two ports. The two ports were separated by geography for centuries and have only been joined by a paved road since 1995. Amorgos lies between the other Greek Cycladic islands of Naxos, Astypalia
and the Lesser Cyclades, 240 nautical miles from Piraeus.
Its two ports, Katapola and
Aegiali (alternate spelling: Aigalia), are usually both linked by the same ships in succession but
routes vary from ship to ship. Amorgos is bisected east
to west by mountains.
are high the two ports become isolated from one another and only a high
mountain road connect the two with bus service twice a day.
There are fertile valleys and lovely beaches some
of which are sandy and others with pebbles or shale.
Ferries take about an hour to travel from Katapola in the south to the secondary
port of Aigiali on the island's north end.
Long and sinuous, Amorgos is far
less visitied than its Cycladic cousins Naxos and Paros but this only
adds to its appeal. The approximately 2000 islanders are friendly.
The island becomes busy during high season months of July and August.
Most of the year Amorgos is a well kept secret, but in July and
August many French, Germans and Scandinavians throng here. Many tourists are attracted because of Luc Besson's 1998 movie
The Big Blue, which was filmed here. The wreck of the Olympia off the west coast was made famous in this film.
There are good swimming beaches
at Katapola, Xylokeratidi and Aegiali. Amorgos's other beaches are accessable by boat:
Arkesine, Kalotaritisa, Faros, Aghia Anna and Paradeisia. The beach near Rachidi is not particularly nice.
Katapola, the main port
or 'lower city' is a lovely port built in the classic Cycladic tradition
with white domed chapels on each promitory as you enter its circular
bay. It sits in a sheltered horseshoe bay with a view toward the islet of Keros. Katapola is in the most verdant part of the island.
The harbor links two small villages–Rachidi on the hillside, and Xylokeratidi, a fishing village. You can walk the entire harbor in 25 minutes.
The town's center is near the dock and sections of town connected
by a lovely pine-shaded esplanade. Yacht provisioning may be found
here as well as most of the island's taverns, bars and shops.
From its silver-domed main church the 8 km path to hilltop Hora Amorgos begins its lazy
ascent along a palm shaded route fringed with flowers. It's also an easy walk from Katopola up the Mudulias Hill to Minoa.
There is a camp ground in Katapola.
The island capital, Amorgos Town or Hora (alternate spelling: Chora), is perched
on a high plateau about 1300 feet above sea level. Hora is high enough to sometimes be shrouded in clouds.
Typical white Cycladic in nature, Hora is pretty and labyrinthine. There are remnants of many windmills atop the ridge. Its cobbled streets have houses with brightly painted
doors and small chapels at every turn. In fact there are more churches than houses. The smallest chapel in Greece is here: Ag. Irini. It's not much bigger than a phone booth. You'll find a small Archaelogy Museum in Hora. Its hours are irregular.
Sections of the Venetian
castle built in the 13th century remain. Steps lead up from the center of town to the well-preserved fortress. Coming back down from the Venetian fortress at Hora into Katapola at sunset is usually a beautiful walk.
The Monastery of Chozoviotissa
Amorgos' most intersting site is perhaps the dazzling white Monastery of Chozoviotissa (alternate spelling: Moni Hozoviotissis) founded in the 11th century by the Byzantine Emperor Alexios Comnenus or in 800 AD by monks from Palestine's Hozovia depending on whose books
You can either take a foot path from Hora to the monastery, or a bus. Even the bus leaves you with a 20 minutes walk. The walk is amply rewarded with superb views of the sea, so it's not a bad as you might think. It is a rubbly path, so wear good shoes. To enter the church, modest dress is required.
100 monks in its 50 rooms, it now has only a handful. There are two churches and a library with 98 manuscripts. There is a small museum. The museum holds the miraculous icon found in the sea below the cliff, believed to have arrived from Asia Minor (or perhaps Cyprus or Jerusalem, again depending on whose book you read).
Below is the beach
of Aghia Anna which is popular with naturalists and nudists. You can get to this beach on the bus.
Aegiali, the secondary port
or Ormos (Bay) is Amorgos' northern port and its main resort due to
the fact that it possesess the only sandy beach on the island. The town
is small, relaxing and picturesque with striking views to the islet
Nikouria. Nikouria is a granite lump of an islet, once a leper colony.
This picture-perfect little town is in a horseshoe bay and boasts a blue-domed church and isolated sand or shingle coves.
Over the headlands, paths lead to the group
of isolated sand or shingle beached coves where nude bathing is optional.
Caiques also are available to ferry you to quieter beaches. The Amorgos
diving center offers diving lessons and equipment rental.
From Aegialia, take the bus to Tholaria, a pretty hill village with a vaulted Roman tomb, and to Langada, a pretty village under a rocky island thumb. From Langada, there's a path along the ridge that leads to Tholaria and the port. You'll see decapitated windmills, the frescoed church Yero Stavors, perhaps some donkeys in the valley, and a monastery that is a replica of Ag. Sophia in Istanbul.
Drinking and Dining
You'll find good eateries in Katapola, Hora, Aegiali, Langada and Tholaria. Most of the available rooms are in Katapola and Hora. There are sophisticated shops, bars and cafes.
Minoa, about 1 km south of Katapola, and near the village of Lefkes
may be reached by walking up Mudulais Hill. This village may have begun as a colony of Crete.
can see remains of the Temple of Apollo, the gymanasium, and parts
of an acropolis.
Major archological finds have been discovered on Amorgos
and the largest Cycladic figurine in the Athens National Archeological
Museum were found nearby.
since about 3000 BC Amorgos seems to have trading links with Milos and
Egypt. A commonwealth of three different city-states. Minoa, Kastri (modern
Arkesini) and Aegiali shared the island, each with its own coinage.
Alexander the Great's generals ruled the island, then the Romans
who used it as a place of exile and later the Byzantines who were unable
to defend it against Turkish pirates.