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South of Pothia
The main road to Vlichadia (6 km) and the southwest of the island climbs up to the convent of Aghii Pantes which is often referred to as ‘Aghios Savvas’ after the monk, later canonised as a saint, who spent the last 20 years of his life here. Aghios Savvas (1862–1948) has now become the patron saint of the island, though he was born in Thrace. After a period on Mount Athos, he spent almost 10 years as a hermit in the Jordanian desert, and then returned to Greece, where he became a priest at the Holy Trinity convent on Aegina with Nektarios (later Aghios Nektarios), of whom he painted an important icon. He came to Kalymnos in 1927 and lived here at Aghii Pantes, as a spiritual teacher and ascetic, until his death in 1948. The vast convent—almost an independent city—gives today an impression far from the ascetic aspirations of Savvas. The views over Pothia, however, are very fine.
In the village of Vothini (3.5km), to the right of the main road, shortly beyond the turning for the convent, is a Folklore Museum and traditional Kalymniot house (open daily 9–3). The display is informative and well-presented on sponge-fishing, as well as on the customs of marriage and of domestic life on Kalymnos. Samples of traditional Kalymniot wine (similar to port) are offered. Continuing 2.5km further south, on the shore-front at Vlichadia, is another ‘home-grown’ museum, the Balsamidis Museum of the Sea and Sponge-diving (open daily 9–6), created with considerable dedication and energy by the local diving master, and giving a vivid picture of the variety and interest of the seas around Kalymnos—its fish, shells, sponges, corals, shipwrecks, and buried amphorae. It is one man’s elaborate paean to the seas. A number of remains from Early Christian and Roman times are visible in this area. A track uphill and to the south from the opposite side of the road from the Folklore Museum of Vothini leads (1.7 km southeast) to the isolated monastery of Aghios Giorgios built on the site of, and incorporating carved marble elements from, an Early Christian foundation, which in turn replaced a place of pagan worship on the panoramic hill-top. At the same site, to the north of the church, is a group of barrel-vaulted tombs of the late Roman/Early Christian era. These are a recurring element in the landscape of Kalymnos and of Telendos: three more may be seen just west of the village of Vothini. Two kilometres southwest of Vothini is the cave of Kephala (open June–Sept daily 10–6) reached by a newly made track heading west from the monastery of Aghia Ekaterini, just to the west of the village. This is the most accessible of the many caves on the island: the almost 1,000 sqm area of the cave’s six interconnected chambers is entered by a narrow passageway and provides an impressive display of stalactites and stalagmites. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘cave of Zeus’: this is more a tribute by local tradition to its large size than a reflection of any cult of Zeus which might be suggested by archaeological evidence. Cai―ques in the harbour of Pothia also offer a service round to the shore below, from which it is a 200m walk up the cave: these trips give the possibility of stopping on the islet of Nera to see the attractive monastery of the Timios Stavros.
Kalymnos Island is part of the Dodecanese Island group
Pothia, the Vathys Valley, and the south of the island. South of Pothia.