The tranquil and uneventful Chora of Anaphi clusters around the remains of the medieval, Venetian castle on the crest of a hill almost 300m above the landing jetty at Aghios Nikolaos, in the middle of the south coast of the island. The main settlement of the island in antiquity lay several kilometres to the east; this new site must have been chosen by the Venetians because of the sharp out crop of rock on the hill top—marked today by the chapel of Aghios Giorgios—which provided an easily fortifiable and strategic point. The kastro, of which only meagre remains survive, dates from the 15th century, when the island had passed from the stewardship of the Sanudo to the Crispo family. Some of the houses in the steep alleys near the summit, must be only a little more recent. The settlement winds in a crescent towards a small plateia at the western end of the village passing the settlement’s principal, early 17th-century church of Aghios Nikolaos.
The village today is an attractive and airy settlement: its appearance is characterised by countless, half-cylindrical vaults over traditional single-room dwellings, whose forms alternate with the round, masonry ovens—like truncated towers with low roofs—which stand close to the entrance of each house. The base of the vaulted roofs was surrounded by a low rim which caught rainwater, channelling it into cisterns below. The modern buildings which have accreted to this historic core have mostly followed the same architectural characteristics, but on a larger scale. on the east slope of the kastro, directly be hind the Koinotita (Municipality) building is the temporary seat of the Archaeological Collection (for access, ask in the Municipality offices).
Although currently no more than a small stack-room, this contains a magnificent selection of Roman funerary statues. All lack their heads; the busts are heavily draped with the drill-cut folds of togas, partially covering the hands which are positioned in some cases so as to hold the material over the head in a sign of mourning. Such busts would originally have been produced in series and left unfinished until the time of purchase, at which point the separate head with the appropriate personalised features of the face was fitted onto the bust. These pieces come from the necropolis on the southeastern slope of Kastelli Hill, where until recently they were lying exposed on the hillside. There are also several Early Christian inscriptions in the collection. Anaphi’s greatest treasure, the very fine, late 6th-century bc Anaphe Kouros, known as the Strangford Apollo, is now in the British Museum, London.
Anaphi or Anafi Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.