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Kythera - A note on visiting Byzantine churches on Kythera (II)

A note on visiting Byzantine churches on Kythera

The island, for its size, has an unequalled wealth of Byzantine churches. Many of those mentioned here are kept locked and their keys are no longer held, as before, by a local neighbour. This has become the case after a notorious series of thefts in the 1990s; and the policy is unlikely now to change. To visit, for example, four or five of the greatest treasures on the island out side the months of July and August, different entities or people will probably need to be contacted:
* the key for the cave church of Aghia Sophia, below Mylopotamos, is kept in the custody of the Demarcheion (the Town Hall: T. 27360 31213) in Chora, except in July and August, when the church should be open for four hours every day, except on Mondays;
* the keys for the ancient churches on the peak of Vouno are kept by the local pappas (priest) of the Palaiopolis parish (this parish includes the monastery of Aghia Moni (T. 27360 33251) where he can often be contacted);
* for the painted churches of Aghios Demetrios at Pourko, Aghios Andreas at Livadi, or Aghii Anargyri and Aghios Vlasios at Frilingianika, the keys are kept at the Byzantine Antiquities Department (T. 27360 31195) in the main street of Livadi, although the churches are occasionally open for liturgies or cleaning.

Those involved are generally helpful in facilitating visits: but finding the right person at the right moment is not always easy. The few churches mentioned above are of such importance or beauty that the effort needed to get to see them will be more than repaid; for the others mentioned in the text below, it is up to the visitor to decide according to his or her stamina. Never fail, however, to go into any church which happens casually to be open for whatever reason, even if you are on your way some where else: the opportunity is golden.


Kythera Island, Greece


access

Kythera Island, Greece.


Olympic Air
runs one daily flight between the island and Athens throughout the year.
Otherwise access is by sea from the southern Peloponnesian ports of Neapolis (one mid-morning ferry daily, making the journey in 1hr: T. 27340 22660 & 24004);  Gytheion (four sailings per week—3 hrs: T. 27330 22207); and, more occasionally, in summer from Kalamata (5 hrs).
These last two routes continue on to Kisamos (T.28210 28217 & 24147) in eastern Crete, from which there is the same frequency of return connections.
There are also weekly connections with Piraeus by ferry all through the year, and by hydrofoil in the summer months.
Most boats now dock at the new
port of Diakofti on the east coast of the island, 31km from the island’s capital, Kythera Chora.

Kythera Travel Guide

eating

Kythera Island, Greece.

In Chora it is not easy to find both good food and a pleas ant setting together.
Zorbas, in the main street, is known locally for its baked lamb at weekends, and the family-run
O Salonikos, on the main road, has commendably fresh dishes at reasonable prices; but both places slightly lack atmosphere.
One of the best tavernas to eat at on the island is Skandeia at Palaiopolis: it has excellent fresh wine, freshly-caught fish, and a variety of home-made, vegetable pittakia; the owners are welcoming and the setting is shady and beautiful.
At nearby Avlemonas, Korali also has good fish.
Kapsali has a number of adequate tavernas, of which O Magos is perhaps the best.
For Kytheran honey, Yiannis Protopsaltis at Mitata is recommended.

Kythera Travel Guide

lodging

Kythera Island, Greece.

Rooms for rent can be found in many of the villages on the island: the hotels, however, are mainly concentrated in or near Kythera Chora and at the port of Kapsali below. Particularly peaceful and with a good and panoramic terrace for breakfast, is the Hotel Margarita just off the main street in Chora, in the 19th century house in which Valerios Staïs, the archaeologist, was born. Open all through the year. (T. 27360 31711, fax 31325, www.kythira margarita.com).
Nearby, at the entrance to the Kastro of Chora is the small Pension Nostos, with half a dozen select, simple, well-appointed rooms of great charm (T. 27360 31056, fax 31834, www.nostos-kythera.gr).

Kythera Travel Guide

practical info

Kythera Island, Greece.

801 00 Kýthera:
area 277sq.km
perimeter 118km
resident population 3,532
max. altitude 506m.
Port Authority: T. 27360 34222 (Diakofti), 33280 (Aghia Pelagia).
Travel and information: Porfyra Travel, T. 27360 31888,www.kythera.gr

Kythera Travel Guide

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