IKARIA



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Ikaria - The west of the Island. Kambos to Karkinagri - general

The West of the Island-Kambos to Karginagri
(For distances, Kambos = 0.0 km)
Around the bay and village of Kambos (2.5km west of Evdilos) are the remains of ancient Oenoe, whose name, cognate with the Greek word for ‘wine’, is a clue to the source of its wealth and the reason of its fame. The site is a very clear choice for an early settlement: a natural acropolis dominating a fertile estuary, and a beach and port for boats. The shoreline will have retreated considerably over the last 2,000 years through the silting up of what was probably a harbour inlet which reached some way inland along the east side of the acropolis hill. The wine—some of it the Pramnian wine mentioned above— produced on the slopes of the valleys to the south, would have been traded and exported through the port and city on this site. Prosperity from the wine trade will, in turn, have made the city an obvious choice of seat for later Ro man and Byzantine governors; and it is the evidence of their presence that remains today, clearly visible as you descend on the road from Evdilos.
   Referred to locally as ‘Palatia’, the ruined complex, with conspicuous arched windows, visible on the north east side of the acropolis hill in the centre of the valley, is the principal remnant of what was probably a Byzantine governor’s residence created out of a variety of earlier Roman buildings. (Access is easiest from around the western side of the hill.) Though officially referred to as a Roman odeion, the construction method and masonry would indicate something very late if it were Roman—more probably 5th or 6th century ad, and therefore Early Byzantine. The design, furthermore, with an unusually wide and shallow cavea and scarcely much space for performers, does not preclude the building’s use as an odeion (an intimate auditorium for concerts or recitals), but suggests that it might more likely have been an audience chamber for the local governor. The window arches and the blind arcade behind the cavea (whose purpose must have been decorative) are beautifully constructed in clear white marble from Fourni, while the external quoins have been recently replaced in white concrete. The summit of the acropolis above reveals the base of a fortress tower, but little else of substance beyond the fine views.
   Completely hidden out of sight from the sea, and set below the summit of the hill on the south side, is the fine 12th century church of Aghia Irini, built over part of the site of a much larger 5th century basilica, vestiges of whose once magnificent mosaic flooring are visible on the north side of the area in front of the entrance of the church and beneath the steps which lead to the museum above. The mosaics are executed in five colours (two blues, white, red and yellow): various geometric and ‘knot’ designs, and ivy-leaf border motifs. Sunk into the ground in front of the southwest corner of the church is an ancient sarcophagus—smaller, but similar in design, to the fine example in the plateia of Fourni (see p. 191). The 5th century basilica must have been a large building, stretching from just beyond the apse of the present church (where the Early Christian foundations are just visible) as far west as the rather odd monumental gateway and belfry which opens onto the area before the façade of the existing church. This gateway is a more recent assemblage of ancient marble spolia from the site, designed principally to house the church’s bell. Countless other spolia, both Classical and Early Christian, plain and in scribed, lie all around or are incorporated wholesale into the older houses and buildings of the area.
   The interior of the existing, 12th century church of Aghia Irini, surmounted by a high octagonal dome, has an unusual synthronon at its east end—a memory per haps of its Early Christian predecessor. The paintings that once covered its walls may well lie beneath the whitewash: some, in very poor condition, are just visible under an arch in the northeast corner. Interestingly they appear to be an-iconic: this may indicate that the 12th structure in corporates part of the Early Christian basilica here.
    Just above the church is the small museum (no regu lar opening times, outside morning openings in the summer months: the knowledgeable supervisor, Vassilis (T. 22750 31300), who holds the key, runs the cafe and shop on the main road just below and is always willing to open the collection on request). The collection contains finds from all round the north of the island, not just from Oenoe: a small number of interesting Neolithic pieces; fragments of pottery; some eroded marble statuettes from Nas; an unusual marble fragment with Dionysiac ivy-leaf motif; many inscriptions, including one (Hellenistic) declaiming Ikarians as liars, in which the word ‘Ikarians’ has been substituted by ‘Jews’ probably in Roman times. (A number of newer and more interesting finds are currently be cleaned and documented in the Archaeology Department workshop, two doors up from the cafe/shop on the main road: it is worth asking to see inside, if the door should be open.)


Ikaria Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island group
The west of the Island. Kambos to Karkinagri - general information.


Random information you might what to know about Ikaria Island
Theoktistis Monastery
Pramnian wine of Ikaria

 

access

Ikaria Island, Greece.

By air: Ikaria now has a small airport at the eastern tip of the island, connected to Athens by a mid-afternoon flight every day, except on Mondays: an airport transfer bus connects flights with Ag. Kirykos 11 km away.
By boat: Ferries between Piraeus and Samos serve both of the island"s two ports – Evdilos, on the north coast, almost daily, by either fast boat (5 hours, summer only, from Piraeus) or slow (8-9 hours, year-round); and Aghios Kirykos, on the south coast, with 3 connections a week on the Samos-Piraeus route.
The F/B Samos Spirit also stops at Ag. Kirykos on its way between Samos and Fourni 3 times a week;
and in the summer there are fast, Flying Dolphin hydrofoil connections (1 hour) to and from Pythagoreio on Samos, 4 times weekly, dropping to 2 weekly for the half-season months of April, May, September and October.
Caïques leave Ag.Kirykos most afternoons during the summer for Fourni, and on Mon, Wed and Fri for Manganitis and Karkinagri, at the western extremity of the island.

Ikaria Travel Guide

eating

Ikaria Island, Greece.

For a variety of local and traditional dishes always freshly prepared, Christos Chazàlas"s Taverna "To tzaki", in Glaredo (2 km west of Aghios Kirykos) is much to be recommended; in Aghios Kirykos itself, the tiny Taverna Klimataria, under a vine pergola, a couple of blocks in from the harbour, serves good soups and oven dishes, and is justly favoured by locals for its good value. There are several good tavernas at Kato Raches overlook the site at Nas: Taverna "O Nas" has the best view, but the food is more imaginative and homemade in character at Anna"s Taverna. In Karkinagri, the fresh fish is generally excellent at Perkas Restaurant.

Ikaria Travel Guide

lodging

Ikaria Island, Greece.

The island’s nicest hotels are not to be found in either of the ports.
At Therma, the Agriolykos Pension (T. 22433 & 22383; www.island-Ikaria. com/hotels/agriolykos.asp), very quiet and set in a delight ful garden of tamarisks with wide views, is at the top of a flight of steps above the north end of the bay. Rooms are small and simple, but have air conditioning. (Note: access is only by foot, and bags will need to be carried up to the hotel.)
In Therma town, the Anthemis Hotel (T. 22750 23156 & 23377) is simple with adequate rooms, and has helpful and friendly owners. Both hotels are inexpensive.
The island’s smarter hotels are mostly in the area of Armenistìs: the Hotel Erofili Beach (T. 22750 71058-9; www.erofili.gr : upper price range) has large, comfortable, and well appointed rooms overlooking the sea front and the pool: it is a good hotel, but the breakfast is somewhat disappointing and the reception decidedly cool.
Just outside Armenistìs, on the way to Nas is the charming Hotel Daidalos (T. 22750 71390-2), looking west out to sea:
next door to it, and of equivalent standard but more old-fashioned, is the Cavos Bay Hotel (T. 22750 71381-3; www.cavosbay.com.gr ). Both of the above are in the medium price range. Those seeking real peace and quiet might explore Tzamoudakis Rooms in remote Karkinagri (T. 22750 91217 & 91327).

Ikaria Travel Guide

practical info

Ikaria Island, Greece.

83 000
Ikaría: area 255 sq.km;
perimeter 107 km;
resident population 8354;
maximum altitude 1037 m.
Port Authorities: Aghios Kirykos T. 22750 22207,
                           Evdilos T. 22750 31007.
Travel and information: Municipality of Aghios Kirykos T. 22750 24047;
Nas Travel, T. 22750 71396.
www.island-Ikaria.com

Ikaria Travel Guide

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