LIPSI



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Lipsi - general

LIPSI
The well-kept and pleasant chora of Lipsi is clustered around a small hill at the back of a wide sweep of harbour comprising two roughly equal bays. The best eating and much of the life of the town take place on the airy promenade of the port; while behind it, up a flight of steps, are the narrow streets of the old centre of the village which tend always to lead back towards one of the two tiny protected squares in the area behind the island’s principal church. The latter dominates the horizon with its unusually broad form, accentuated by two symmetrical bell-towers. This is the church of Aghios Ioannis Theologos, begun in 1931 and built with funds contributed by emigre Lipsiot families in America and Australia. The lavish quantity of liturgical objects and furniture which can be glimpsed behind the iconostasis gives some idea of the generosity of the church’s endowment; the interior has particularly fine hanging chandeliers. To the right on entering is kept the miraculous icon of the Panaghia tou Charou—an image comparable to the Pieta  in western painting tradition, in which the Virgin holds and laments the dead Christ. Inside the glass frame of the icon can be observed some withered lily stalks.
This is the principal relic of the island—a miraculous icon, with an unusual iconography. A lily stalk, dedicated and left at the icon by a grateful suppliant in thanks for a petition granted, was found to revive miraculously from its subsequently desiccated state, and to flower nine days after the Feast of the Assumption on what has now become on Lipsi the Feast of the Panaghia tou Charou (23/24 August). It is said that the miracle repeats each year on the feast, and forms the focus of the island’s principal religious celebrations and festivities, involving a procession of the icon across the island.

Behind the church to the northeast is the Plateia Xanthos, with a bust of Immanuel Xanthos, the Patmian liberation fighter; the intimate space is animated by a couple of shaded cafes. On the north side of the square is the curious Nikephoreion Ecclesiastical Museum (open weekdays in the summer, mostly between 9.30–1, 4–8; 10–2 at weekends. If closed at these times, ask in the town hall (Demarcheion) opposite). Though chaotically displayed in one small room, this tiny museum should not be underestimated or missed if possible.
   The collection is an interesting and mixed wunderkamer of artefacts—of which the beautifully carved marble *Ionic corner acroterion of an altar, produced by a 5th century bc Milesian workshop, is perhaps the prize. (A partner, which comes from the same altar-structure, is exhibited in the monastery’s museum on Patmos.) It possesses a timeless formal design, embellished with simple decorative palmettes, and is carved with particularly refined craftsmanship which has the slight imperfection and humanity of true handwork. Amongst the other antiquities on show are: Hellenistic grave objects and stelai, amphorae, coins (ancient and modern); a large piece from a Byzantine carved templon; and dedications found on the island’s acropolis, including an important 2nd century bc inscription relating to the territory of the island, stating that the decree should be ‘set up in the sanctuary of Apollo Lepsios’. There are relics, stones, dusts and rocks collected or sent from many places: the Holy Land, Asia Minor, Russia, Australia, even the Berlin Wall. Amongst the treasures on paper are two letters (of August 1824) from Admiral Miaoulis, the hero of the Greek War of Independence, and an especially beautiful, 19th century *hand-illustrated book of botany by Dionysios Pyrros. The other natural colours that stay in the memory long after leaving the museum are those of the embroidered *island costumes—reds, mauves and pale pastel greens.
   Little remains of the older architectural fabric of Chora, except a few isolated buildings, and one substantial mansion just behind the post office, facing east. The town has spread into the areas beyond the original centre in an open patchwork of houses and gardens, dotted with blue domed churches and a quite unexpected Hindu lotus stupa (on the hillside to the east of the town)—evidence of the cultural diversity among the Greeks who have chosen to settle here. Not just the town, but the whole land scape of Lipsi seems punctuated by tiny steeply-domed hapels in white and blue. These are mostly modern and tend to have templon screens in painted and plastered masonry: taken singly, they are not particularly noteworthy, but they are so numerous and characteristic in form that together they constitute a unique and determining element of the island’s appearance.


Lipsi Island is part of the Dodecanese Island Group, Greece.


access

Lipsi Island, Greece.

By boat: For so small an is land, Lipsi is well served from Easter to Oct with frequent connections; out of season, the fast services all stop, and the slower boats are reduced in frequency. From April to Oct the F/B Nisos Kalymnos, plies the route from Lipsi (via Patmos) to Arki, Agathonisi and on to Pythagoreion (Samos)—up and down in the same day—four days per week (typically Mon, Wed, Fri and Sun).
In the same seasonal period, Dodecanese Express catamarans and Flying Dolphin hydrofoils between them cover the Kos, Kalymnos, Le ros, Lipsi, Patmos route daily. To and from Piraeus there are generally two, occasionally three, connections per week (10hrs) year round.

Lipsi Travel Guide

eating

Lipsi Island, Greece.

The best fresh fish and simplest good Greek dishes, with out fuss or frills, are to be had at the inconspicuous Taverna Theologos on the western half of the harbour promenade; the octopus is prepared particularly well here. But it is generally difficult to eat badly on Lipsi:
Locals tend to favour the much wider selection of dishes at Karnagio (especially at Sunday lunch) which is the last taverna at the east end of the second bay of the port.
Lipsi is famous for its mávro krasí ("black wine") which is a dark, sweet, red wine of high alcoholic content, similar to vin" santo: it has even been supplied in certain periods to the Vatican as altar wine.

Lipsi Travel Guide

lodging

Lipsi Island, Greece.

Lipsi’s principal ‘resort’ hotel, open year-round with full facilities, is the Aphrodite Hotel (medium price) in Liendou Bay (T. 22470 41001/2; www.hotel-aphrodite.gr )
There is also the less glossy Kalypso Hotel, in the centre of the port promenade, which is functional and has its own restaurant (T. 22470 41242). Neither quite captures the simplicity of Lipsi however, and visitors may prefer to stay in one of the many rooms or studios for rent in the town, which represent a good and inexpensive solution.
To be recommended because they are both peaceful and set in small, flourishing gardens are: Studios ‘Anna’ (T. 22470 41126) and Kalymnos Studios (T. 22470 41102). They are set back a little way from the centre of Chora; but nowhere is exactly far on Lipsi.

Lipsi Travel Guide

practical info

Lipsi Island, Greece.

85 400 Leros: area 54sq km; perimeter 82km; resident population 8087; max. altitude 326m. Port Authorities: Lakkí, T. 22470 22224, Aghia Marina, T. 22470 23256. Travel and information: Lakki, Aegean Travel, T. 22470 26000, www.aegeantravel.gr, Aghia Marina, Kastis Travel, T. 22470 22140, www. kastis.eu
Lipsi Travel Guide

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