ALONNISOS



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Alonnisos - Chora and environs

Alonnisos - Chora and environs

A severe earthquake in March 1965, of magnitude 6.3, damaged over 80 per cent of the buildings on Alonnisos: it caused seismic waves in the sea which were observed on Kyra Panaghia at the time. As a result of this * Chora, the picturesque hill-top capital of the island, was abandoned and its small harbour hastily adapted and built up into today’s settlement of Patiti­ri. Much of the old settlement, whose position is one of the finest in the Sporades, has been sensitively restored and revitalised, even if a slightly artificial air prevails owing to the fact that it is principally a summer retreat for visitors. The short distance to Chora from the port (3km by road) can be covered by foot (1.5km, 30 minutes) along the old mule-path. The main part of the settlement is preceded by a charming plateia, with cypress and mulberry trees, balconied houses, a war memorial, and a handsome neoclassical façade hidden slightly behind the long, low 17th century church of Aghios Athanasios. The windows of the church have curiously pointed frames, and the row of blind pointed arches along the north wall would suggest that some structure, perhaps a parecclesion, has been removed. Across the square to the left side is the settlement’s principal place of worship, the Christouchurch, also of the late 17th century and dedicated to the Nativity of Christ: it is a simple domed chamber with a small narthex but no protruding apse, roofed in schist slabs from Pelion. Inside, the wooden balcony reserved for women is still in situ. From here the path climbs steps and the view opens out over the whole of the island to the north: at this higher level, you enter the area of the old ‘kastro’, roughly bisected by a gracefully curving street, now lined with shops and tavernas, which finishes abruptly at the far end with a different and equally dramatic view, this time towards Skopelos and the south and west. Another narrow crescent street runs parallel to the north side, where the older houses, many abandoned, are built on the edge of the natural fortification of the site. In their midst is the oldest of Chora’s churches to have survived, Aghios Giorgios, dating prob ably from the 15th century. It suffered little damage in the earthquake of 1965 beyond the detachment of some plaster which revealed areas of wall-painting beneath. The remaining churches and many of the houses in the web of tiny streets downhill to the south had to be rebuilt after 1965. From Chora a path leads south, steeply down through olives, pines and scrub to the bay of Mikros Mourtias, with a sheltered, sandy beach.
   About 600m east of Chora, along the road back to Patiti­ri, is the modern church of Aghios Ioannis, standing on a small eminence: the remains of ancient walls, some terracing and a path cut in the rock can be seen behind and below the east end of the church and extending a short way down the hill to the north. These are the exiguous remains of the island’s second ancient settlement (after Ikos on the east coast), whose existence is mentioned in the Periplous of Scylax of Caryanda, the late 6th century bc explorer.
   Further east, from a point midway between Patiti­ri and Chora, after the church of Prophitis Elias, a by-road to the left (north) followed by two successive right forks, leads to the rural church of the Panaghia sto Vouno, visible in a saddle after a wayside spring of soft water (the ‘Vrysi tis Panaghias’). The church was founded as a monastery in the late 15th or early 16th century, but abandoned less than two centuries later. Both the setting amidst olive and cypress trees and the simple proportions of the schist tiled cupola on its square base are particularly beautiful. The interior is plain, apart from fine but damaged paintings in the ceiling: the Pantocrator with Seraphim, Arch angels, the Virgin and Baptist, with Evangelists and Prophets below, survive in and around the dome and the drum.


Alonnisos Island is part of the Sporades Island Group, Greece.


access

Alonnisos Island, the Sporades.

By boat: There is no direct ferry route from Athens to Alonnisos. Services are from Volos or Aghios Konstantinos (closer to Athens): by car ferry (6 hours) daily from Volos, and five times weekly from Aghios Konstantinos. The island is also connected by rapid hydrofoil service (Flying Dolphin) in 2 hrs 30 mins from both of the above ports with varying frequency throughout the year. All serv ices to the island stop in Skiathos and Skopelos en route.
In the summer months, the hydrofoil connection is more frequent and the network extends to include Thessaloniki to the north and Kymi and other destinations on Euboea to the south.
Access to the outlying islands in the Marine Park (with the exception of Pipéri which is closed to ordinary visits) can be arranged with a boat opera tor in Patitíri: there are boats of varying size—the M/V "Gorgona" (Ikos Travel, details above); "Plantiri" (Alonnisos Travel, T. 24240 65188); and the smaller "Stella".

Alonnisos Travel Guide

beaches

Alonnisos Island, the Sporades.

Tourkoneri
Megali Ammos

Alonnisos Travel Guide

eating

Alonnisos Island, the Sporades.

A good place to sample the island's traditional, spiral tyropitta called striphtiko is at the taverna To Paradosiako at Steni Vala where they are freshly and delicately made along with a variety of good fish dishes, and where fresh wine from the island is served in the late spring.

Alonnisos Travel Guide

further reading

Alonnisos Island, the Sporades.

Ὰνω Μαγνὴτον Νησοὶ, Kostas Mavrikis, Alonnisos 1997 (currently only in Greek), is a comprehensive historical study of the island and its waters.
Walking on Alonnisos is a popular pastime. The following knowledgeable and informative guide can be of help: Alonnisos Through the Souls of your Feet, Chris Browne, 2008 (available through www.alonnisoswalks. co.uk). For information on the North Sporades Marine Park, see: www.alonissos park.gr

Alonnisos Travel Guide

lodging

Alonnisos Island, the Sporades.

Chora is a cooler, quieter and more panoramic place to stay than the port: Fantasia House (T. 24240 65186), to the left as you approach the village, is attractive and simple.
In Patitíri, the Hotel Haravgi (T. 24240 65090, fax 65189) is comfortable and pleasant, and open most of the year. There are many room or studio rental solutions on the island, which can be found at www. alonissos.gr.

Alonnisos Travel Guide

museums

Alonnisos Island, the Sporades.

Kostas and Angelas Mavriki Museum

Alonnisos Travel Guide

practical info

Alonnisos Island, the Sporades.

370 05 Alonnisos (sometimes written Alónissos), also referred to by its Mediaeval name‘Chelidromi(a)’ (and a current local variant, ‘Liadromia’): area 65sq. km; perimeter 81km; resident population 2399; max. altitude 475 m. Port Authority: T. 24240 65595. Travel information both for Alonnisos and for visits to the outlying islands: Ikos Travel (T. 24240 65320, fax 65321, www.ikostravel.com)

Alonnisos Travel Guide

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