Anaphi of Anafi Island, Greece.
Anafi or Anaphi Travel Guide
East from Chora: Kastelli Hill
The principal interest of the island lies to the east of Chora, accessible by a road which follows the coast at a short distance inland. The landscape is rigorously Cycladic— treeless, and rocky, with bald hillsides, a few of which were once laboriously terraced over their entire extent. The thick cover of herbs at ground level supports a good bee population; the island was celebrated for its honey in antiquity—even featuring the image of a bee on its coin age—and still produces honey of good quality. The most conspicuous plant of all is the fruit-cactus which alone has the possibility to flourish here, especially in the protected enclosures of the ruined buildings. At the shore, along this southeast sector of the coast, are the island’s best beaches—Katsouni, Flamourou, Roukounas and Prassies—which have impressive sweeps of sand, but little shade. In summer, small boats from the harbour provide the simplest way of reaching them.
At c. 4km from Chora the road begins to traverse the southern slope of the hill of Kastelli. The summit to the north was the acropolis of Ancient Anaphe, now crowned with the remains of Venetian fortification; below stretched the area of habitation. To the south by the shore was the city’s port, grouped around the bay of Katalymakia, or Katalymatsa, whose name derives from the ancient Greek words for an inn or hostel. The area visible on the undulating land above the shore, a few minutes’ walk below the road, is marked by a large number of curious, stone cairns which are said to have been raised by local mariners who traditionally added a stone when departing for a journey: the inlet here was formerly the island’s harbour. The soft earth consists of a high proportion of volcanic deposit from Santorini. Although most of the surface finds were taken from here in the 18th century by the russian occupiers during the First russo-Turkish War, there are still remains lying all around, and the area in general is asking for excavation. on the sharp rise to the north side are many classical spolia: fragments of capital and architrave and fluted column. In the middle of the rear ridge is a small chapel, constructed from many large pieces of ancient masonry, and with an upturned capital serving as a table by the door. A ridge, marked by the mariners’ cairns (partially consisting of antique fragments), runs west from here to a point where there is a clear view of the ancient harbour-inlet, with the sweep of what were once terraced habitations behind. Amongst their remains are blocks of architrave in marble from Naxos or Paros, and an eroded, carved stele still standing. The extent of the site suggests that the main concentration of the population of Ancient Anaphe may latterly have been here by the port. The presence of some dis carded marble elements which have been (re-)cut for use in a church templon, indicates that the site also continued to be used into Christian times.
As the road momentarily climbs inland, a footpath leads left up the adjacent slope of the hillside towards the summit of Kastelli, and to the interesting church of the Panaghia sto Dokari, which is gained in about ten minutes. The north side of the church is buttressed on the outside by a segment of ancient retaining wall in large, regular limestone blocks; the goat-byre a short distance to the southeast of the church similarly has its rear wall (visible from inside) composed of the same massive elements. The general construction of the blocks is of a kind that would suggest 4th-century bc work, although the size and shape of the elements may indicate an earlier period; what exactly this configuration of walls formed is hard to ascertain from the scant evidence. The most notable remnant, is the beautifully decorated, marble Roman sarcophagus– beside the church, which stands complete with its broken lid carved as if with roof-tiles. There are eroded reliefs on all four sides: a scene of dancing putti and of gryphons on the long sides, and of a Siren and of (?) Alexander Taming Bellerophon on the short sides. The footpath, though faint, continues to the summit of the hill (325m above sea level) where a network of walls remain from the ample medieval, Venetian fortress, built around the panoramic outcrop of rock on the summit which had functioned since earliest antiquity as the ancient acropolis. Leonardo Foscolo, in the 13th century, probably established his first abode on the island here, before the founding of Chora.
The medieval walls incorporate many ancient blocks, and there are the remains of the base of an ancient temple.
From the summit of Kastelli, the path descends and crosses a saddle to the north east, and then makes for the church of Aghios Mamas, where there are further ruins of late Hellenistic and roman tombs, some with sunken chambers. From Aghios Mamas a ninety-minute walk leads first northwest to the rural settlement of Aghios Dimitrios, and thence east to the monastery of Aghios Antonios at Kastraki, which is said to have the remains of 14th-century paintings in its interior. The main path from Aghios Mamas, however, continues east along the south slope of Mount Chalepas, following the line of the Sacred Way that joined the ancient city to the Sanctuary of Apollo on the eastern isthmus of the island: parts of its paved surface are clearly visible in stretches. The path ends at the isthmus after one and a half hours from Katalymatsa, or two hours from Chora. The metalled road meanwhile continues from Katalymatsa to Megas Potamos (6km), a ravine with small spots of cultivation, and thence down to the shore at the solitary chapel of the Aghii Anargyri (7km). The altar inside is supported by a small Corinthian capital, and other ancient fragments have been collected outside. The road ends (8km) at the monastery on the isthmus, where it is joined by the footpath (see above) from Kastelli, via Aghios Mamas.
Anaphi or Anafi Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.