The north of the island
To the north of Myrties, the coastal strip as far as Masouri, and a little beyond, is dedicated to seasonal tourism. Sea wards, it is dominated by the imposing profile of Telendos across the water; landwards, it is backed by dramatic mountains which, to the north of Masouri, drop in vertical rock-faces below their summits, perforated with caves and overhangs. These are a rock-climber’s paradise—a sport for which Kalymnos is becoming increasingly well known. Information may be had from the Municipal Athletics Organisation’s Climbing Information Desk (T 22430 59445; e-mail mao@Klm.forthnet.gr or jckalymn@ ath.forthnet.gr) which is situated in Masouri (9 km from Pothia). At 10.5 km the road passes Kastelli—a projecting conical headland crowned by an eroded knob of rock, where there are the remains of a Byzantine fortress of the 7th century ad. The site is dramatic (especially at sunset) and looks across to the towering profile of Telendos, with its contemporaneous settlement of Aghios Konstantinos directly opposite. The steep slopes have substantial re mains of stone houses, rock-cut cisterns and thick scat ters of potsherds and broken tiles; stretches of the multiple defensive walls are traceable—an inner ring at the summit and a main enceinte with towers below, as well as a steep run of walls down to the shore in the middle of the south slope. Though the slopes are barren now, they would once have been consolidated in terraces with dwellings, and green with plants and trees in between.
The deep cut into the coast of the bay of Arginonta constitutes another half-amphitheatre of mountainous rock-faces with many impressive caves, at the head of which, in a rare oasis of green, is the village of Arginonta (19km). From here, tracks lead southeast over the pass to Metochi and into the Valley of Vathis. At Skalia, 4km north of Arginonta, are a number of points of interest: above the village, the church of Aghios Mamas—reached by a stone path and steps up from the tiny plateia—is built on the base of an ancient building; below, at the shore, the whitewashed, cemetery church of Aghios Nikolaos is built into the remains of a large Early Christian basilica of the 6th century, whose well-preserved north wall still towers above the more recent church. In the interior are patches of 14th century wall-painting (north side), be side a framed icon of St Nicholas, festooned with sponges. From Skalia, a rough track climbs over the barren ridge and down to the northeast coast at the bay of Palaionisos, where a community of half a dozen souls and their goats survive, by a small shingle beach.
The finest archaeological remains in this sector of the island are the ruins of the *Hellenistic fortress of Kastri—the brilliant and almost invisible fortification of a cleft in the mountainside, which commands some of the most stunning views in the area. The site is well-camouflaged, and nestles about half-way below the summit of the rock face to the north of the last sharp bend in the road before the settlement of Emboreio begins. From the house and goat-pens just above the road, a path—vestigially marked with red spots—leads directly up the mountain, first to the right of the torrent-course, and then to the left, until the roughly rectangular hewn blocks of the construction come into view below the rock face. The as cent is steep, rocky and takes the full sun. The site consists of a curtain wall in polygonal masonry which links two small rectangular towers (c. 3.5m. square) on rocky spurs to either side, and seals off a natural cleft in the rock face: below are rock-cut steps and a doorway hewn through the rock, with the fixtures for the gate cut into its surface. This leads steeply up to the east side and onto a rock ledge, where there is a plastered cistern, again carved from the living rock. Beyond it lies a neatly carved olive press stone, with clear-cut channels for the outflow of the oil. (Further to the west of Kastri, below the ridge, are the remains of what appears to be an ancient olive-press installation.) To this day, the site feels very safe: it must al ways have been an impregnable refuge which dominated the land and water routes, and the islet of Kalavros below. The -view is magnificent, and it should be recalled that if, when this structure was built in the 5th or 4th century bc, Telendos was still, as some claim, a headland attached to the mainland, there would then have been no open chan nel to the south (see ‘The Earthquake of 554 ad’, below).
The fortress at Kastri would have protected, and served as an acropolis for, the ancient settlement of Emboreio, which, though a sleepy, end-of-the-road village today, must once have been a flourishing centre, if its ancient name ‘Emporion’ (‘trading station’) is anything to go by. Systematic excavation has not been undertaken here, but there are ancient blocks incorporated into walls of buildings and fields in this area, and the ground is richly scattered with potsherds in places. The church of Aghios Giorgios is built on the ruins of an Early Christian predecessor; and the few remains of Late Roman thermae can be seen by the shore at the east end of the bay. Prominently visible on the hillside above and to the east of Emboreio, is a large stone-built barn-like construction, probably dating from the around the 6th century ad and generally referred to as the ‘Evryotholos’ (or ‘wide-vault ed building’). A church it clearly never was. Its form—a long barrel-vaulted single chamber, buttressed by thick walls on the long sides—is not unlike a large version of the tombs found all over Telendos (see below). But this would be an unusually large example; it may therefore share more in common with the granaries and storage barn tholoi, encountered, for example, on the islands of Agathonisi, and Pharmakonisi (see pp. 178–9), which lie not far to the north of Kalymnos.
Kalymnos Island is part of the Dodecanese Island group
Chorio and the North of the island.