ALIMNIA



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Alimnia - general

The gentler and greener island of Alimnia (also Alimia) lies about 6km northeast of Chalki, accessible by a 40-minute journey by cai―que or water-taxi (see Practical Information below). The beautiful and protected bay of Aghios Giorgios where boats arrive, bears out the is land’s ancient name Eulimnia (‘with good harbours’). Pliny states that there were two harbours—the other being on the island’s east coast and referred to by him as Emporeio. As you enter the bay of Aghios Giorgios, to the east is the picturesque church of Aghios Minas, be side which rise the ruins of the military buildings put up by the Italians during their occupation of the Dodecanese; ahead, amongst the trees behind the beach, was the main settlement clustered around the church of Aghios Giorgios. The tranquil beauty of the bay is at odds with its recent history: during the Second World War this deep harbour was used by German occupying forces as a submarine base. The base was attacked in April 1944 by seven British commandos who were captured, sent to Thessaloniki and executed. The local islanders confessed to having assisted them and were consequently deported. Since the 1960s the island has been uninhabited. In one of the abandoned buildings (formerly a taverna) near the church of Aghios Giorgios, pictures of ships and submarines painted by Italian soldiers can still be seen. The church itself stands in a pebbled court yard surrounded by mature trees: beside the southeast entrance are some ancient spolia—amongst which is a fluted, ancient altar. Inside the church, the altar itself comprises an upturned classical column-base. On the rise above the settlement, excavation has uncovered a late Neolithic settlement. The ruins of a 14th century Hospitaller castle crown the sharp peak to the north. The ascent up a loose stone scree is not easy as there is no clear path, and takes the best part of an hour; the effort is rewarded by the magnificent views and the interest of the remains. The considerable density of pot-sherds on all of the south slope suggest that this was a substantial settlement in Antiquity, with a fortified acropolis on the summit. Evidence of this ancient fort is clear from a distance, as the solidly built and perfectly drafted rectangular blocks of the 4th century walls which rise from the natural rock and underpin the mediaeval castle above, come into view. They are particularly impressive along the north side. A deep cistern with dressed stone blocks forming the mouth lies below the southern rock face: this may be the cistern which is specifically mentioned in the original contract of 1366 for the construction of the mediaeval castle, drawn up between a certain Borrello Assanti of Ischia (the lessee) and the Grand Master of the Hospitallers. The castle can only be entered with difficulty from the east end. Its views over the island itself and of Rhodes are unimpeded; curiously, the only point which is obscured from view by higher land to the southwest is the castle above Chorio on Chalki. It appears that this small fort (it is little more than 80sq. m in area) must have been superseded by d’Aubusson’s much larger construction on Chalki a century later, even though both were kept functioning in the 15th century—in effect surveying the same area, yet out of sight from one another. Goat-grazing has been more limited on Alimnia, permitting a fuller growth of a varied maquis on the island’s slopes. Both cultivated olive and dwarf-cedar trees are more abundant here than on Chalki and there is little of the island’s surface that does not have some green cover.


Alimnia Island is part of the Dodecanese Island Group, Greece.


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