General

The grand landscapes of Amorgos are full of dramatic settings. A long human presence on the island has left many monuments and settlements behind, all of them characterised by sites of courageous beauty. When the island was an important centre of Cycladic culture in the 3rd millennium bc, trading with Naxos and the smaller islands in its own protective lea and producing marble sculpture of the highest quality, the citadel at Markiani­ was built on a cliff-top summit looking across open waters to Thera in the south and to Naxos in the north. Nearly 2,000 years later, the three cities founded in historic times on Amorgos—tactfully distanced from one another so as to divide the island into three equal parts—all occupy exhilarating summits or promontories. And 2,000 years later again, when monks fleeing Arab incursions into Palestine took refuge on the island, they established their community in the most improbable site of all, half-way up a 400m precipice above the sea. The famous monastery of the Panaghia Chozoviotissa which grew from this community is one the most unforgettable sites of the Aegean. It was visited by le Corbusier in 1933 and notably influenced his work.

The quality of the archaeological remains is often as remarkable as the setting. The fortified refuge-tower or complex of farm-buildings at Aghia Triada near Arkesi­ni is the most impressive of any which has come down to us from Hellenistic times, both in its dimensions and in the quality of its construction. And from the same epoch, even the lowly lavatories of the ancient gymnasium at Minoa—roof, seats and flushing drain still intact—must surely be the best preserved conveniences from Greek Antiquity anywhere.

Few other islands combine as succinctly so much history and landscape and important archaeology as Amorgos: and few do it with such disarming simplicity. A little modernity has come to the island in roads and buildings and tourism, but never obtrusively. The two ports of the island, the Chora, and the villages of the rural interior, have all been well preserved without any straining pre tension, and development on Amorgos has remained respectful of the island’s history and dignified grandeur. Walking on the island is a great pleasure, too. The paths— many of them ancient arteries of communication—are well marked. Both the more agrarian plateaux of western Amorgos and the dramatic, Hebridean slopes of the eastern end of the island, leave deep impressions in the memory for the beauty of their vegetation and the splendid views which they afford.

 

Amorgos Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.

 

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