Kalymnos Island belongs to the Dodecanese and is located between the islands of Kos and Leros. It is an island with a population of approximately 18,000 residents according to the results of the 2011 census, most of whom stay in the capital and main port of the island, Pothia. Surrounded by a large number of small islands, some of which are uninhabited like Glaronisia, Kalavros, the inhabitable Telendos, islets Nera, Agios Nikolaos and Agios Andreas, Plati, Pserimos, and Kalolimnos. The ground on the island is mountainous with small stony plains a total area of 109 sq. km. The mountains of Kalymnos are treeless with main peaks of the Prophet Elias, right in the center of the island (760 meters), Kira Psili or Kirapsili (700 meters) in the south east and "Galatiani" in the North West end. The coasts of Kalymnos are relatively steep, forming many peninsulas, bays and ports.
The municipality of Kalymnos includes the island Kalymnos, the nearby islands and Pserimos, Telendos and surrounding islands. Kalymnos is the capital of the provincial of Kalymnos, in which belong the islands of Leros, Patmos, Astypalaia, Agathonisi, Lipsi, Arki, Pserimos and Telendos.
Kalymnos has been inhabited since the Neolithic perio. The most ancient inhabitants were the Carians. This is proved by the Carian characteristics at the remains in ancient metropolis of Castella, near the current Stimenia. Later Kalymnos was inhabited by the Phoenicians, which is revealed by the remains that exist in Emporio. In the period 1150 BC - 800BC Kalymnos was settled by the Dorians. Considerable evidence is the current name DAMOS and the ruins of the Temple of Apollo. Inscriptions which survive since today show that the Dorians ruled the island under the leadership of the Thessalian, son of Hercules and Chalciope.
Omiros names the island as KALYDNA and reports that participated in the Trojan war by sending along with other islands 30 ships with leaders Feidippos and Antifanos. After the Trojan war (according to Diodorus), four of the ships of Agamemnon sunk in their way back outside the island. The crew then settled permanently on the island and built a village on the plateau of the island, in memory of their distant homeland, called Argos. For a long time it was the capital of the island.
At the end of the Archaic and early Classical periods Kalymnos is an autonomous state. But independence did not last long, because it was conquered by the Persians. Released in 477 BC, joins the Athenian Alliance, along with Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos, Rhodes and pays tax to fund the Alliance located at Delos.
During the Byzantine period belonged to the Theme of Samos. In the 10th century it was destroyed by Turks and in the 14th century it was captured by Venetians Knights of St. John. The Knights of St. John rebuilt the castle walls that existed on the island since the 10th century, and has since been expanded the residential center of the island until the early 18th century. In 1522 it was conquered by the Turks, who later granted Kalymnos privileges. In 1912 it was captured by the Italians, who, after about 35 years, ceded it to Greece, along with the rest of the Dodecanese. The Official integration with Greece took place on March 7th 1948.
Some of the villages of Kalymnos are:
â€¢ Kalymnos or Pothia:
Pothia the harbor and capital of Kalymnos, built in the early 1850s when most had stopped pirate raids and residents returned to their coastal areas from the Chora which was the first capital of Kalymnos. Extremely picturesque, built amphitheatrically, densely populated, with houses built next to one another and all facing the sea, maintaining the local island character.
In the western side of the harbor stands the monastery of St. Savvas from where the view is breathtaking. The most population of Kalymnos stays in Pothia. Here are also placed all public services, banks, post offices, coast guard, police, etc.
In the coastal zone of the port, there are hotels, rooms, restaurants, bakeries, cafes.
â€¢ Chorio or Chora:
Chorio or Chora was for centuries the capital of the island. It is built in the middle of the valley, away from the sea with the pirates. In the region of the settlement are located some of the major attractions of Kalymnos. Up the hill on the right side, is Pera Kastro or Castle Chrisocherias built the Byzantine era and was inhabited until the 18th century. Other area attractions are the church of Panagia Kecharitomene and the remains of an ancient temple of Apollo Delios dating from the Hellenistic period. Many architectural parts of the temple were used as building materials for the construction of the Church of Christ of Jerusalem.
The picturesque village of Panormos is built in a green area surrounded by pebbly beaches. The area has been inhabited since ancient times. According to the findings in the area of Tsoukalaria, there were ancient potteries. Panormos has developed in a touristic resort and an attraction for visitors mainly for its beautiful beaches. The main road that comes from Pothia and hoes from Elies, to the beaches of Linaria and Cantouni to the left and Platys Gialos to the right.
Coastal village on the west coast of Kalymnos, northwest of Pothia. The settlement Myrties began to grow coach after the 80s. It took its name from the many myrties that are in the area. The beautiful beach in the village, has a length of approximately 700 meters and is pebbled. The water is relatively shallow. Just opposite appear Telendos and there are boats that cover the route very often during the day. In the village there are hotels and rooms providing guests a comfortable stay.
This village has become the most tourist resort. It is filled white houses overlooking the western coast of the island. The beach is considered one of the most beautiful in Kalymnos, is sandy and extensive. In Massouri there are hotels, rooms, restaurants, bars and night-clubs. Opposite Massouri is the island of Telendos, which in ancient times was connected to Kalymnos. With crystal clear waters and very good organization. There are sun beds and umbrellas for rent, and over the beach numerous restaurants and taverns. It is ideal for children.
The Emporios is a quiet, picturesque village in the northern part of Kalymnos, at the end of Northwest highway, at a distance of 24 km from the capital. In Emporios operate a few guesthouses, cafes and taverns. The beaches, to which access is a few minutes walk from the village, are spotless. By boat you can reach some rugged beaches and see unique beauties. Also, from the Emporios you can follow the walking trails and climb the mountain that rises behind the village. You will see the remains of the Cyclopean Walls and the remains of an ancient tower called Kastri.
The Vathi village nestles in a fertile valley, which is located in the middle of a barren and mountainous region, northeast of Pothia. It has a small picturesque fishing harbor, Rina. Its feature is that it is located in a narrow cove, with high and steep cliffs. In the area of Stimenia ther are the remains of a prehistoric Acropolis. In Metochi there are the remains of an ancient temple and near the port ruins of a tower of the classical era.
The past few years in Kalymnos there is much interest in climbing. The diversity of beaches, cliffs and the mild climate make the island an ideal place for climbers. The Kalymnos rock resembles to that of Thailand. But Kalymnos is concidered by most climbers as a more complete destination. The limestone, the climbing on stalactites, and the many caves have helped Kalymnos to be characterized by magazines like "Vertical", "Klettern", "Climbing", "Desnivel", as one of the most beautiful locations "in the world of climbing." There are about 60 fields with sport climbing routes mainly "single rope" of difficulty from 4 to 9, which is easily accessible by trails. Most routes of "single rope" range between 20 and 30 meters. However, there are routes of "single rope" that reach 50 to 60 meters. The majority of the route is located in the western / northwestern part of the island. Do not forget the island of Telendos where more and more routes are being set up with emphasis on "multiple rope" routes of different heights. In Kalymnos are opened about 100-150 new routes each year by Greek and foreign climbers. Currently the island has over 1300 organized routes.
Some of the historical sites and monuments worth a visit are:
â€¢ The Acropolis of Pothia (north of Pothia): You can see just the foundations of an ancient fortress of the Hellenistic period, on the rocky area. The squared stones were incorporated in newer houses of Pothia.
â€¢ Damos (Damos = Municipality in Doric - north of the Chora - Elies street): Rich ancient settlement that reached its peak in the early Hellenistic period till the Late Roman period. Among the well-preserved ruins of buildings stand large baths complex, stepped road paved, houses, workshops, carved fountains, traces of ashlar masonry walls, carved and chamber tombs with precious and other findings.
â€¢ Christ of Jerusalem (5th century AD.): A three aisled early Christian basilica, built with material from the Ionic temple of Delian Apollo. According to tradition, the temple was built by St. Helena or Arcadius on their return from Jerusalem. A beautiful mosaic has been revealed in the south aisle, which is similar to mosaics in basilicas in Kos. The church was destroyed in the mid 6th century by an earthquake and was repaired immediately, but finally it was abandoned in the 7th century because of Arab sea raids
â€¢ St. Sophia or Evaggelistria (near Christ of Jerusalem, late 5th or early 6th century AD): An impressive temple which was destroyed by the earthquake 554AD and later repaired. Abandoned in the 7th century, while in the past Byzantine period there was a small church built in front of old one, also ruined today. The excavations haven't revealed the church completely, but from the interior decoration survived remarkably colorful floor mosaics.
â€¢ Kastelli (in the homonymous region): Byzantine fortress on the sea between Kalymnos and Telendos. The fort was in use until the 9th or 10th century, locates in an excellent strategic position, using the natural division of the hill into two different levels, in order to defend itself against attacks from land and sea. On the exterior wall there are gates, while water supply is ensured by water tanks.
â€¢ Castle of Chora or The Big Castle (late 15th c.): In a natural at 255m with a unique entrance gate stands the castle from the period of the Knights in its present look, although human activity on the site dates from prehistoric times. The first fortifications date from the 11th century. The castle was inhabited during the Turkish domination (1513-1912) but by the middle of the 18th century the dangers do not exist anymore and residents built homes in the area of Chora. The habitation of the castle, although limited, continued until the middle of the 19th century. In the remaining architectural structures, besides several houses, stand two large water tanks, a stone trough, a section from the mill and the stone cylinder for crushing olives. Inside the castle still exist in good condition 10 small churches.
â€¢ Pera Kasrto or Chrisocherias' Castle (halfway between Chora and Pothia): It is in continual use since the Neolithic era. Due to its position, at the top of the natural hill between Chora and Pothia, it has a great view to both areas. During the period of the Knights, because of increasingly frequent raids on the islands, the governor of the islands of Kos, Kalymnos, Leros and Nisyros, Knight Fantino Quirini under the orders of the Grand Master Jean Bonpart de Lastic forced the inhabitants to build a new castle. It consists of a peripheral wall, two circular towers, two entrances and a rampart. Within the few buildings that have been preserved in good condition are a dug into rock and a built food store, two churches, the newest of St. George and the oldest of Virgin Mary. The castle was finally abandoned in the late 15th century, because of the continual raids of the Turks, because its small size could not meet the needs of the population and mostly because the Grand Castle of Chora was completed in 1495.
Three stone windmills (NE Castle) - Visible from the port, are a "trademark" of Kalymnos.
â€¢ Early Christian Necropolis (Telendos, 500 SW Tholaria settlement): An early Christian cemetery with funerary structures from which nine have survived to our days.
â€¢ Early Christian settlement of Rina (Vathy harbor Rina): Dense organized settlement that flourished in the 5th-6th AD century, possibly abandoned due repeated Arab raids. Contains seven early Christian churches, remarkable dwellings and cisterns. The settlement was repositioned in the 10th century, as indicated by the construction of the chapel the Assumption of Mary and St. Kirikou. It seems that regeneration occurred in the region, as shown by the many frescoed Byzantine churches.
â€¢ Cave of Stimenion (Deep) - With holes in the top for lighting and entrance for people. Around the cave early Christian and Byzantine pottery are found, as well as ancient stone buildings and ruins.