The western half of the island is a dramatically rocky limestone plateau. Although largely uninhabited and uncultivated, it is a mass of wild flowers in the early spring. There is a scattering of isolated chapels and monastery churches which are now easier to reach with the new road. (The road leads all the way to St John ‘The Far’ which is a two-and-a-half hour walk from the port. The rugged coast of this part of the island has few beaches, but there are deserted, and largely shade-less, pebble coves. Those on the north coast—Areta, Aghios Giorgios and Dio Yiali­— are best reached by boat from Emboreio; Yiali­ on the south coast, can be reached by a 30 minute walk down the track that descends southwest from Chorio.) Beyond Chorio, the road climbs steeply to the north, shortly passing (right) the chapel of Aghia Barbara, built into the rock face; a little further on is the small monastery of the Stavros, focus of a popular island festival each year on 14 September, in which the cross is en shrouded with branches of basil. Higher still, and set on a green ledge in the grey rocky slope of Mount Merovigli a little way to the right of the road, is the monastery of the Archangel Michael Panormiis. A new church has been built in front of the original 10th century hermit age chapel which lies just to its east. A dilapidated stone entrance leads into the tiny vaulted interior, which has a pebble floor and the damaged vestiges of wall-paintings. There are two layers here: on the south wall, the colourful fragment of a horse’s head and the arms of a saint is probably of the 12th century, while the fine traces of a standing saint on the layer below are of the 10th century and of considerable quality. The pitting all over the lower layer was inflicted at the time the second layer was applied, in order to help the new plaster hold to the surface below. The chapel’s altar is a re-used pagan altar-block; and just beside the entrance of the chapel are carved marble fragments from an earlier Byzantine church, possibly on this site. The main road continues to rise steeply again: as it levels off, a rough track leads away to the right beside a ruined windmill to the church of Aghios Ioannis (‘The Near’) and thence down to the picturesque church of Aghios Giorgios in a small oasis of green behind the bay of the same name. The main surfaced road continues west along the undulating, high plateau of the island’s centre: in the valley below to the left, traversed by stone walls, the base of a large stone tower is visible. The route affords marvellous views towards Tilos, Symi and the Turkish mainland. On the left of the road is the isolated and abandoned chapel of Aghios Nikitas, whose vault is in imminent danger of collapse. There are vestiges of wall-painting on the interior walls and some ancient spolia heaped inside. A little further on, the road ends at the monastery of Aghios Ioannis Prodromos (‘The Far’), set in the midst of an airy and fertile upland plain. The open courtyard is bounded on two sides by cells and punctuated by a large and very venerable, spreading cypress tree: another stands just to the south of the complex. The main church, with a re-laid floor, is simple and undecorated inside: 100m to its northwest, however, is the church of the Panaghia Enniameriissa which incorporates material from an Early Christian predecessor. It has extensive but damaged 14th century wall-paintings inside and a founder’s inscription bearing the date 6875 (years since Creation, i.e. 1375). The road ends at this point; but a one-hour walk northwest from here to the western extremity of the is land leads to the Kephali promontory where, among the ruins of an enceinte of walls and vestiges of an Early Christian basilica, are the remains of an ancient tower which surveyed the sea-routes towards Karpathos. The finding also of Neolithic obsidian tools in this area indicates that this lonely promontory is the oldest inhabited area of the island yet to have been discovered. It looks out onto a stretch of water which is the haunt in spring and summer of the elusive Cory’s shearwater.

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

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