KALYMNOS



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Kalymnos - general

General
Kalymnos delights with its combination of easy normality and vivid geographical contrasts: a skeleton of rock bare mountains breached by shallow plains of intense green fertility; waters, once renowned for the sponges in their limpid depths, reflecting mountain ridges and summits shot through with caves that are famous among pot-holers and rock-climbers; and, set in contrast to all this ruggedness, the island’s capital, Pothia, which has a busy metropolitan feel. Large for the overall size of the island and built on the wealth that came from fishing and sponge-trading, Pothia is a pleasant and businesslike port with none of the artificiality which comes of picturesqueness or over-dependence on tourism.
   The island’s landscape is everywhere profoundly sculpted and folded. An earthquake in the 6th century ad is commonly supposed to have changed the shape of Kalymnos by separating Telendos (now an islet) from the main body of the island. In fact, this separation is more likely to have been the result of a much older geological activity which has fashioned the waters and mountains of the west of the island into one of the most beautiful and dramatic marine landscapes in the Aegean.
   Even more than on Kos, there is an astonishing quantity of Early Christian remains—basilicas, settlements, bath-houses, tombs—on Kalymnos. It emphasises how confident and populous the Christian community was that established itself on the island in the early 500s, only to be devastated first by the earthquake of 554 and then cut short by hostile Arab incursions a hundred years later, which left the inhabitants by the end of the 7th century clinging to refuges in remote mountain fastnesses such as Aghios Konstantinos on Telendos. Although Telendos and Vathys are the densest areas of these palaeochristian remains, early churches can be found in all corners of the island and their greatest treasures are often their fine mosaic floors. Many were constructed over remains from pagan antiquity, such as the memorable structure of the church of Christ of Jerusalem, built from demolished blocks of the important Calydnian sanctuary of Apollo. Its elements constitute a veritable museum of ancient inscriptions. The island has two fortified sites of the Hellenistic period, which are both unusual in character—an extensive complex at Empola (Vathys), and another at the dramatic and hidden site of Kastri in the north of the is land.
   Kalymnos is an island with a strong sense of identity: a perceptible accent of its own in spoken Greek, and aproud perpetuation of Byzantine names and old-fashioned, more poetic, forms of address and salutation. A number of small museums on the island celebrate this cultural conservatism and diversity, as well as giving a valuable picture of the remarkable—and often tragic— story of the island’s pre-eminence in the world’s spongetrade.


Kalymnos Island is part of the Dodecanese Island group
Kalymnos General Information.


 

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access

Kalymnos Island, Greece.

By air: Kalymnos now has a small and dramatically sited airport at a distance of 5.5km from Póthia, served by Olympic Air, providing connections with Athens five times a week, mostly with a stop en route at Astypalaia.
By boat: There are daily services by catamaran (Dodecanese Express), and four times weekly by car ferry (F/B Nisos Kalymnos), south to Kos, and north to Leros, Patmos (& Samos—ferry only). There are daily boats to Piraeus and to Rhodes, operated by GA Ferries, making also twice weekly stops at Tilos, Nisyros and Symi on the way to Rhodes.
The faster Flying Dolphin services link Kalymnos (Póthia) also with the smaller Dodecanese Islands between Samos in the north and Rhodes in the south, and run daily in summer. There are daily services in summer (only intermittently out of season) between Póthia and Pserimos, and between Myrtiés and Xerókambos on Leros, weather permitting.

Kalymnos Travel Guide

eating

Kalymnos Island, Greece.

The taverna "Pandelis", in a tiny square directly behind the Olympic Hotel on the waterfront, does not have a wide choice, but what is offered is prepared well—with care and attention to freshness, lightness and flavour.
The ouzeri "Sphoungaras", in an alley behind the Emporiki Bank (where Patr. Maximou Street meets the promenade) has excellent mezé, and is crowded with locals at lunch time.
Around the island— both "Popy"s" at Vathýs, and "Akti" in a delightful setting at Emboreió, are good for fresh fish dishes.

Kalymnos Travel Guide

further reading

Kalymnos Island, Greece.

On the sponge trade:
Bitter Sea: The Real Story of Greek Sponge Diving, by Faith Warn (2000); and,The Bell stone

Greek Sponge Divers of the Aegean, by Michael Kalafatas (2003).

Kalymnos Travel Guide

lodging

Kalymnos Island, Greece.

For character and tranquillity, *Villa Melina is the most congenial place to stay in Póthia (T. 22430 22682; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ). It is a Belle Epoque, family mansion, with high-ceilinged rooms (and some newer studio rooms around the swimming pool), run by the hospitable owners in a quiet area close to the museum.
With more straightforward facilities, and a good view of the town, is the Hotel Panorama (T. 22430 23138, 22917; www. panorama-kalymnos.gr).
For beach-side accommodation in Kantouni Bay, on the west of the island, Koletti Studios are in a delightful setting (T. 22430 47922, or, out of season, 210 692.8909);
and the tiny shore-side guest-house, On the Rocks, facing Kalymnos from Telendos (T. 22430 48260, 48261; www.otr.telendos.com) is perfect for a peaceful retreat.

Kalymnos Travel Guide

practical info

Kalymnos Island, Greece.

85 200 Kalymnos:
area 110sq km
perimeter 96km
population 15,706
max. altitude 676m
Port Athority: T. 22430 24444.
Travel and information: Kalymnos Municpality, www.kalymnos-isl.gr; Magos Travel, T. 22430 28777.

Kalymnos Travel Guide

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