West of Chora

Two hundred and fifty metres west of Chora, the road drops into a short dip: to the south at this point, just above the road, is the church of Aghios Giorgios. Above its west door the carved fragment of a pagan grave-stele, depicting a figure on a charging horse with cape flying, has been immured in honour of the equestrian saint. The road then climbs onto a central ridge of the island, with a 220° panorama of the neighbouring islands—from Santorini in the southeast, through Sikinos, Ios , Naxos , Paros, Antiparos, Siphnos, Seriphos and Kimolos, to Milos in the west. To the south after 3km, a road branches steeply down to the cove and sheltered sandy beach at Angali in Vathy Bay. This is one of the most protected spots on the island when the summer meltemi winds are in full force.
   The western end of the island consists of the largely agricultural area of Ano Meria, where grain is still harvested by hand and the fields ploughed with animals. The land has been cultivated here throughout history—as the scale and extent of the terracing show—but permanent habitation only began a little over a century ago, when it first became safe to leave the confines of the Chora and settle on this windswept plateau. For this reason Ano Meria is a loose network of groupings of houses which extends for several kilometres. The traditional type of house here is a miniature independent complex, with storage areas, a living space, cistern, bread oven, chicken-coop, livestock shelters and threshing floor, all closely packed around a central space so as to minimise the impact of the wind. Some idea of its furnishings, both domestic and agricultural, can be had from the small Folklore Museum, which stands to the south of the main road. (Generally open July and Aug 5–10pm, otherwise T. 22860 41370.) The museum building itself is whitewashed, but the surrounding builds in un-rendered, dry-stone construction show the skill of the masons and the beauty of their craftsmanship.
   At the western end of Ano Meria (c. 6km from Chora, and 300m before the road to the western extremity of the island begins), a track branches south to the village’s cemetery, descending past the church of Aghios Ioannis Prodromos—a low, barrel-vaulted structure of the 15th century with a large transverse narthex at its west end. Several patches of damaged wall-painting, dating from the 17th century or later, have been revealed from under the plaster on the south wall and the side of the vault. Further to the west, the main road (now a track) ends at the church of the Zoodochos Pigi which sits in an at tractive and panoramic site below a large outcrop of rock crowned by an improvised, mediaeval watch-tower. From this eminence, Cape Kastellos, the northernmost point of the island, can be seen. (This is best approached via Aghios Giorgios Bay, which is reached in 40 mins by a stone mule path, branching off to the north of the main track, from a point c. 500m before the church of the Zoodochos Pigi.) On the ledge to the west of the bay of Aghios Giorgios, the site of an Early Cycladic settlement of the mid-3rd millennium bc, which has been partially revealed in excavations, can be seen: the visible walls probably date from a later occupation. This is the closest point of Folegandros to the island-group of Milos, Poliaigos and Kimolos, which are visible to the west. The settlement at Kastellos must be related to the important, Early Cycladic centres on Milos—even though the exposed crossing between the two islands must have been hazardous for the sail-less boats of the Early Bronze Age during the greater part of the year.

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

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