Location of Karpathos Island
The island of Karpathos is situated in the southeast Aegean Sea between Rhodes and Crete. Covering 330 km2 , it is the second largest island of the Dodecanese with the highest mountaintop Kali Limni (1215 m). Together with the neighboring smaller Saria Island, it forms the municipality of Karpathos, which is part of the Karpathos regional unit. The island's 2011 census population was 6,181 inhabitants. This number more than doubles in the summer months as many Karpathian expatriates come to the island for their vacation with their families. Also, taking into consideration the number of tourists that visit, there can be up to 30,000 people on the island during the summer months.
Villages of Karpathos island
Karpathos consists of 12 villages where most of them keep their traditional style.
Pigadia is the capital of Karpathos.
Here was built on one of the ancient cities of Karpathos, Poseidio or Posi , in honor of the sea god, Poseidon. There are still parts of the ancient acropolis and the Cyclopean walls that protected it. Today the city of Pigadia has all the amenities of a capital to its residents and visitors. The cafes and restaurants, which are next to the sea, give you the opportunity to enjoy unique cuisine, overlooking the fishing boats. Not so far away from the center are clean and organized beaches like the endless beach “Vronti”, Kyra Panagia, Agios Nikolaos, and Ammoopi located 6.5 km to the south. While touring the city you can enjoy images and cuisine of an authentic Aegean island. From the sights we suggest you visit during your stay here is the remains of an early Christian church of Agia Fotini at “Afoti”, next to the sea, and according to historians is built on the ruins of the sanctuary of the Dioscuri. You can also visit the chapel of Agia Kyriaki which is located 2.5 km southwest of the well and offers spectacular views of the sea and the green forest.
Every morning from the harbor in Pigadia depart small ferries that go to unique beaches “Kato Lakos”, “Kyra Panagia” “Apella” “Chai”, etc.) and to Diafani where there you get a drive to visit Olympos village.
The most traditional village of Greece and the Cultural Capital of South Aegean!
The village gives a striking impression from the first moment you see it. Located on the top of a hill which is surrounded by bigger mountains and going west to inaccessible shores. Due to its location, the houses have a unique view over the Aegean Sea and therefore not unjustly been characterized by many as the balcony of the Aegean. The traditional colorful houses that climb up the two steep slopes, the windmills and the bell tower of the church give a sole and unprecedented picture. It is characteristic that during your stay here you will be able to see people who continue to wear their local costumes retain their language and idiomatic expressions. The beautiful figures of women within the colorful handmade costumes not only impress but astonish the visitors. For these reasons, the village of Olympus is described as a living folk museum where visitors outside of the unrepeatable beauty can meet the truest Greek hospitality. Among the most remarkable sights of the village is the church of Panagia from the 16th century with had wood-carved temple and the murals. You can also visit the traditional flour mill, the folk museum of artist Vasilis Hadjivassili, the monastery of Chrisovalantou located at the entrance of the village, a must also to visit is Ancient Vrykous, where the ruins of the 4th century.
The region of Olympos lies in the north of Mount Kimaras and includes not only this northernmost part of Karpathos, but also the islet of Saria, which is separated from Karpathos by Steno, a straight about 100 meters wide, created by soil erosion. The Olympos region has an area of 37 square kilometers, excluding Saria, which is about a third of the whole island of Karpathos. Most of the region is extremely mountainous and covered with woods. The main mountains are Ais Ilias (718 m), Orkili (713 m), Kimaras (692 m), Stioi (639 m), Malo (635 m), Korifi (588 m), Oros (561 m), Asia (531 m) in Karpathos and Pachis Vounos (630m) in Saria. The most important plains of the region are the valleys of Avlona, Ahordea, and Kilios in Karpathos and the valley of Pila in Saria. Smaller in an area but still important, as far as agricultural production is concerned, are the regions Pei (the name comes from the ancient word πεδίον=field), Kampi, Ammoi (from the ancient word αμμόγη=sandy soil) in Karpathos and Nappa (valley) and Argos (plain close to the sea) in Saria.
Diafani is a small fishing village with a small harbor, which is the harbor of the traditional and historic village of Olympos.
Offers few opportunities for accommodation, but it is an amazing place for a quiet holiday in beautiful surroundings. Also offers friendly the local cuisine and fresh fish at the seaside taverns.
You’ll enjoy swimming in the crystal clear waters and beaches of Diafani the adjoining beach of Vananta.
It is easily accessible from the town by car or by boat from Pigadia.
By boat from Diafani you can reach the most quiet little harbor in the picturesque village Tristomo, many unspoiled beaches and the islet of Saria as well.
Spoa built at an altitude of 350 meters, has about 200 residents and it is located at 24km from the capital. This is area is a part the island that combines laced beaches, mountains and trees. The mountainous village of Spoa can watch the two better moments of the Karpathian seas: The Sunset and the Sunrise. Residents are engaged in viticulture and animal husbandry ad they keep alive their customs and traditions. The precious treasure of this village though is found more coastally around 5 km away from the village and is the magical and graphical gulf with the spotless and transparent beaches.
Mesochori village, together with Spoa and Olympus are the upper villages of Karpathos and it's situated in the middle of the island around 34 km from the capital. An incredibly figurative village and in order to get there visitors must follow one of the most beautiful routes through a dense pinewood forest. Main attraction in Messochori is the great church of Panagia Vrissiani, built above the magnificent fountain with natural spring. Additionally the village has an amazingly beautiful landscape and is a traditional settlement where cars are able only until the edge of the village. In the narrow alleys with the whitewashed steps, visitors will discover homely hospitality and walk around and take pictures of the decorations at the traditional houses.
The larger village of Karpathos 8km from the town of Karpathos. It looks like a colorful eagles nest, since it is built amphitheatrically on the side of the Prophet Elijah. Traditional architecture with colorful houses and narrow paths.Characteristic of the village is the great church of Panagia, with a carved, unique wooden temple, built on the impressive Sacred Rock.From the courtyard of the church you see in front of you the whole village and from up there a unique view to the capital of Karpathos Pigadia. In mid-August the Panagia is honored with the biggest festival of the island.The quiet stroll in the small paths of the village is a unique experience. Rustic taverns and cafes offer incredible dishes. Just outside the village is the church of Agios Mamas, a church with unique architecture and frescoes dating from 1300. In Menetes is also the home the Folklore Museum, with collections of archaeological findings, pottery, agricultural implements and sculptures. At the top stands the impressive church of Agios Spyridon.
Arkasa is located 16 km from Pigadia . It is a coastal village characterized by important historical monuments and strong marine landscape that surrounds it.If you visit you can admire ancient monuments including the remains of the ancient city of ARKESIA, located at Cape Paliokastrou.Also in the same region are the parts of an early Christian basilica of St. Anastasia. This temple dates from the 5th century and hosts some fine examples of art which are reflected in the mosaic floors. Even during your stay here, you can visit the historic monuments of St. Sophia and Ypapanti.Visit the Archaeological Museum. In Arkasa you can choose the accommodation that suits you from a great selection of hotels and apartments. The beach of Agios Nikolaos is unique. Large waves give the possibility of different experience.
The Protected Area of Karpathos
The protected area of Karpathos includes 52.1 km2 of sea and about 102 km2 of land. The area of ecodevelοpment in Karpathos includes the area named “North Karpathos and Saria and coastal sea zone” covering in total 113km2 and belongs to the network of protected areas “NATURA 2000”, coded GR4210003 which is characterised as Special Protection Area (SPA, in application of the directive 79/409/EE) and as Site of Community Importance (SCI, in application of the directive 92/43/EE). In its greatest part the area is mainly mountainous with deep gorges, streams and rough relief with steep inclination, while coasts are rough, rocky and sometimes covered with pine trees. The dominant vegetation is phrygana while along the east coast there are clusters of Pinus Brutia (Calabrian Pine). There is great biodiversity in the protected area which is characterised by a variety of rare and endemic plants and animals protected by international agreements and the Greek law. Some typical examples are the Lyciasalamndra helverseni (Lycian Salamander) which is the only endemic Urodela species in Greece, and the frog Pelophylax cerigensis, a local endemic species of Karpathos. Both are considered to be highly threatened with extinction.
The rich flora includes more than 940 species of plants, 87 of which are endemic, rare or under threat of extinction.
In the northwest part of the island, there is the bay of Tristomo, one of the most important parts of the protected sea part. Tristomo is a closed bay with a natural port and two imposing rocks on both edges of the entrance.
The sea underlayer of the bay is soft and sandy on the inside and hard on the outside. On the hard layer there exists a large population of the bivalve Arca noae while on the inside swampy layer there is a significant part of the population of the bivalve Pinna nobilis.
The island of Saria is characterized by steep cliffs, scree slopes and rocky coasts. Along the coastline, there are surface and undersea caves which are proper shelters for the Mediterranean seal. In the terrestrial area there exist vast shrubs, brushwood, phrygana, clusters of Pinus Brutia (Calabrian Pine) as well as isolated deserted olive groves.
The whole island has been characterized as a Site of Community Importance for the birds of Greece according to the directive 79/409/EEC, hosting various rare and endemic species of animals and plants and being of significant archaeological value.
Both Karpathos and Saria are the most suitable areas for threatened species of undersea fauna and birdlife to live and develop thanks to their geomorphology. The Rocky caves of the coasts are home to the Mediterranean seal Monachus Monachus. In the coastal rocks, there are nests of Eleonora’s falcon and Audouin’s Gull. Saria also hosts an important part of rare predators such as Bonelli’s eagle, the long-legged buzzard (Buteo rufinus) and Eleonora’s falcon.
The protected area is also of great archaeological interest. In the ancient towns of Vroukounda and Nisyros, there are tens of underground graves, ruins of walls and forts, part of the Hellenistic walls, but there are also Byzantine monuments, as those towns were inhabited until the 7th century AD.