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Why Should I Visit Kastellorizo?

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Kastellorizo at a glance

A tiny red rock at the edge of the Aegean just 800 metres from the Turkish coast, far-flung Kastellorizo is the easternmost point of Greece.

Built beneath the imposing Castle of the Knights of St. John known as Castello Rosso, from which Kastellorizo takes its name, the island’s only settlement is a fairy-tale setting of pastel-coloured neoclassical mansions that takes the breath away with its picture-postcard beauty.

Long a favourite destination of Italians and creative folk such as David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, this jewel of discreet aristocratic elegance floating in the Mediterranean exerts an irresistible charm on anyone who loves unhurried vacations spent in a historic setting of authentic natural beauty. A bonus is the chance to meet some of the kindest and most openhearted islanders in the Aegean, who you can get to know if you choose the ferry to Kastellorizo.

8 reasons to visit Kastellorizo
  1. To discover the picturesque beauty of Kastellorizo Town, one of the most attractive protected settlements in the Greek islands.  Enjoy a romantic walk along the seafront against an enchanting backdrop of pastel-coloured two- and three-storey neoclassical mansions dating from the early twentieth century.
  2. To explore the ruins of the imposing Castle of the Knights of St. John, built in the 14th century at the top of the rock overlooking the town. Stand on its ramparts and gaze at the majestic view from the port to the Turkish coast.
  3. To enjoy the panoramic view of the island and the Anatolian coast from the church of St. George of the Mountain, a monastic stone fortress built in the 18th century. Stop to admire the early Christian mosaic floor of the church and the 18th-century fresco of Saint Charalambos in the monastery crypt.
  4. To visit the excellent Kastellorizo Archaeological Museum, a timeless treasure-trove of exhibits celebrating the history and culture of the island. The excellent collection includes artefacts from the ancient, Byzantine and modern period, local craft items, and traditional costumes. The museum is housed in the historic “Konaki” building , an architectural jewel in the atmospheric “Kavos” neighbourhood.
  5. To be enchanted by the dazzling beauty of the Blue Grotto, the largest sea cave in Greece and one of the most impressive natural monuments in the Mediterranean. The spectacular sight of the enormous vaulted chamber with its deep turquoise water, countless stalactites and rock doves is like a dream. The ideal time for a swim is in the morning, when sunlight enters the cave, creating unforgettable reflections on the walls and ceiling.
  6. To watch the sunset from the Church of Saint Marina, at the archaeological site of Paleokastro. While you’re there, be sure not to miss the ancient masonry and cisterns at the 3rd-century-BC citadel of the ancient settlement.
  7. To visit the Cathedral of Constantine and Helen, built in 1835, which has some impressive gothic elements. The twelve granite columns that support the roof were brought from the Temple of Apollo in Patara in Asia Minor.
  8. To attend the excellent “Beyond Borders” international documentary film festival held in the last week of August.
The top 5 beaches

Limani: Not a beach, but rocks next to the island’s natural harbour, which you can jump off to enjoy a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear emerald waters.

Mandraki: The island’s one sandy beach is in the picturesque harbour of Mandraki, where the island’s most famous fish tavernas are situated. If you choose a ferry ticket to Kastellorizo, follow a swim in the crystal-clear waters with an unforgettable seafood meal.

Faros, Kavos, Plakes: Three popular areas on the island’s east coast where you can dive into the beautiful clear waters from a platform or jetty, or use steps to enter the sea.

Blue Grotto: The most impressive spot on the island for a swim. Don’t miss the chance to dive into the blue-green waters of the vaulted stalactite-filled chamber. It is best to go in the morning, when the sunlight makes it a particularly magical setting.

Ro, Agios Yeorgios, Stroggili: The tiny islands just off the coast of Kastellorizo are well worth discovering for their small, pristine beaches with crystal-clear emerald waters.

Don’t leave Kastellorizo without…
  • Visiting the iconic Lycian Tomb, a 4th-century burial chamber hewn out of the rock below the castle. The well-preserved monument is a symbol of the island’s contact with the Anatolian region of Lycia, where the inhabitants worshipped the god Apollo as a wolf.
  • Admiring the architecture of the Santrape Boy’s School, a superb neoclassical building from 1903 designed in the style of the University of Athens. It shares a wonderful pebble mosaic courtyard with the island’s cathedral and today houses the town’s primary school.
  • Walking the beautiful trails of the island. One of the most picturesque routes is from the square in the Horafia neighbourhood to the Monastery of Saint George of the Mountain, which involves a climb up 315 steps and a hike along a stone-paved path.
  • Making a stop at the Town Hall and the New Market to admire two architectural jewels from the period of Italian rule.
  • Visiting the islet of Ro, to the west of Kastellorizo, whose sole resident, Despina Ahladioti,  the “Lady of Ro”, hoisted the Greek flag every day for 40 years, from the period of the Nazi occupation of Greece until her death in 1982.
  • Taking a day trip to the neighbouring Turkish town of Kaş (the ancient city of Antiphellus) to stroll around and haggle over prices at the bazaar. Note that you must have your passport with you.
Tasty experiences
  • Try revithokeftedes (chickpea fritters), yiouvarlakia (meatballs in egg-lemon sauce), goat with bread stuffing and salantourmasi (onions stuffed with rice).
  • Enjoy superb seafood and locally caught fresh fish including fried shrimp, grilled octopus and calamari, octopus balls, and linguine with slipper lobster.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with katoumaria (pastries dusted with cinnamon, cloves and icing sugar) and strava (a kind of local baklava), two great-tasting handmade treats that you must try if you choose the ferry to Kastellorizo.
  • Cool off with a traditional soumada almond drink.
Trivia

Kastellorizo achieved worldwide fame thanks to the Italian film Mediterraneo, directed by Gabriele Salvatores. This drama set during the Second World War on a Greek island under Italian occupation won the Oscar for best foreign language film in 1992.

MAP OF KASTELLORIZO
Useful Information