Astypalaia is an island in the Dodecanese group of islands in the Aegean Sea. The coasts of the island of Astypalaia are rocky and there are many pebbled beaches. The inner part of the island is mountainous, but the mountains are not tall. The tallest peak on the island of Astypalaia is Vardia at 482 meters.
According to Greek mythology, Astypalaia was a woman who was abducted by Poseidon, who was in the form of a winged fish-tailed leopard. Astypalaia was the daughter of Phoenix and Perimede. She would have two sons with Poseidon: Ancaeus (King of Samos) and Eurypylos (King of Kos). It is believed the island was named after Astypalaia.
During the Middle Ages, the island of Astypalaia belonged to the Byzantines. Then in 1207, after the Fourth Crusade, the island became a fief of the Querini, a nobel family. The Querini built a castle that still stands today. They would also add the name of the island to their family name. Then in 1522, the island of Astypalaia was conquered by the Ottomans. The island would remain under Ottoman rule until 1912, with only two interruptions. First from 1648 – 1668 when the island was occupied by Venice during the Cretan War and then from 1821 – 1828 during the Greek War of Independence. In 1912, during the Italo-Turkish War a detachment of the Regia Marina landed on the island of Astypalaia, which would make it the first island in the Dodecanese that would be occupied by Italy. In 1947, thanks to the treaty of Paris, the island of Astypalaia became part of Greece.
At Kylindra, a unique graveyard was excavated. 2700 newborns and children under the age of two were buried in ceramic pots between 750 BC and Roman times. There is also a nearby contemporary cemetery where older children and adult were buried.
Administrative Region for Astypalaia Island, Greece
Area of Astypalaia Island, Greece
114.1 km2 (44.1 sq mi)
Population of Astypalaia Island, Greece
Top Attractions in Astypalaia Island, Greece
Drakos Cave – This cave is thought to have been a hiding place for pirate’s treasure. The name of the island means “cave of the dragon.” It features various colored stalagmites.
Venetian Castle – Located on a hill above Chora. The walls are mainly what survives of this castle today. The castle was built in 1204 and renovated in 1310.
Traditional Windmills in Chora – Eight windmills that were built in the 18th or 19th century sit on a hill. There are also white houses and Byzantine churches in the area. A traditional coffee-house is also located nearby.
Archaeological Museum – Located in Chora. This museum showcases exhibits dating from the prehistoric and medieval times. There is ancient jewelry, funeral offerings, ceramic pottery, stone tools, and more.
Pera Gialos Beach – Located 1 km from Chora, this beach is convenient to walk to. The beach is surrounded by fish taverns and hotels. The beach is sandy with pebbled areas.
Marmari Beach – A unique beach 5 km east of Chora. It is actually three separate beaches with a rugged landscape, beautiful crystalline waters, and sandy and pebbled shores. No tourist facilities available, so you’ll want to come prepared.
Tzanaki Beach – 3 km northeast of Chora. Tzanaki is a nudist beach, which can be access by foot from Livadia Beach. The beach is non-organized and secluded.
Church of Panagia Portaitissa – Located beneath the castle in Chora. The church is completely white and considered one of the most beautiful in all Dodecanese. Panagia Portaitissa was built in the mid-18th century.
Monastery of Saint John – Nestled between two steep slopes, this monastery is 12 km from Chora. The monastery is on a hill next to a castle. The location offers a view of a number of islets.