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Alonnisos, the most peaceful of the Sporades, is considered by many to be the ‘couples’ island’. A small eco paradise!
Alonnisos was one of the first Aegean islands to be inhabited, as the traces of the Neolithic settlement at Cape Kokkinokastro reveal.
The various villages, the unique and diverse beaches, the history, and the activities available to the visitor guarantee one of the best holidays one can possibly choose – the ideal destination for all those interested in nature, diving, spiritual and religious tourism, adventure, and of course honeymooners. Many visitors will also be surprised by how much of interest they will find regarding homeopathic medicine.
The first sight a visitor comes across in Alonnisos is the picturesque Patitiri, which is the port and capital of the island, named after the wine presses, back when the main occupation of the locals was viticulture.
We headed to the Hora (or Old Village) – the old capital of the island, where we met a group of twenty Italians who came from Italy especially to experience the magic of Alonnisos’ nature!
With the medieval castle overlooking the sea, we wandered through the winding cobbled streets of the village with its stone-built houses and charming courtyards, the magnificent churches (Christ, Agios Athanasios, Agios Georgios) and the traditional threshing barns.
Magnificent beaches with crystal clear waters (Megalos Mourtias, Steni Vala, Milia, Golden Milia, Marpounta etc.) await the lucky travelers who choose to spend their holidays on the island.
Moreover, these waters are also the refuge of the monk seal, one of the rarest and most endangered mammals of the Mediterranean.
The island is distinguished by its lighthouse, which is the tallest in the Aegean, built by the French during the 19th century.
Thanks to the fishermen’s consciousness and the government’s intervention, the National Marine Park of Alonnisos and Northern Sporades was founded. It is a place where the visitor will discover the Mediterranean seal’s way of life without endangering this important marine ecosystem.
The daily boat tour to the deserted islands of the wider area of the marine park is a key feature of the area’s attraction to tourists – apart from Alonnisos there six more islands and 22 rocky islets. Many of them have both ecological and archaeological interest:
-Yura with the huge Cave of Cyclops, where signs of habitation were found as early as the Mesolithic Period (9th-7th millennium BC), as well as a rare species of goat.
-The Piperi at the center of the marine park, where no boat is allowed to reach, as this is where the seals reproduce.
-Xiro or Peristera, with its wonderful sandy beaches, Skatzoura with the famous Monastery of Evaggelistria, and Psathoura, a volcanic island with ruins of the ancient city.
-The island of Kyra-Panagia (Pelagonisi), the largest of the virgin deserted islands of the Northern Sporades, which is believed to contain the site of an entire ancient city, the ancient Alonnisos. It is a small green island with many tiny beaches with crystal blue waters, pure white sand, and two natural harbors: Planitis and Agios Petros.
In 963 AD, St. Athanasios Athonites bought the island from the Byzantine emperors, in order to act as a metochion of the Monastery of Agia Lavra, supplying the local monasteries with goods such as honey, oil, meat, and wheat.
At the same time, the herding of goats began, which carries on until today, as the island is leased by the Monastery of Agia Lavra to local farmers to graze their herds.
In the southeastern part of the island is located the monastery of Panagia, built in 1100 and inhabited by one single monk.
We would like to remind you, as already mentioned in the first part of our tribute, that the National Marine Park of Alonnisos is the largest marine park in Europe and the first one in Greece!
It is considered to be the ‘home’ of the Mediterranean monk seal, which swims in its waters and avoids human contact, as its name suggests.
According to the legend, the people of Alonnisos were not always fishermen. Those who were not farmers were, in fact, pirates – their waters are ideal, with all the small islands or hiding places. Piracy flourished here between the 16th and 19th centuries, a story that is told by the Alonnisos Museum, essentially the only museum of piracy in the Aegean, with exhibits including anchors, handcuffs for slaves, and other items that one can see in movies.
The culinary tradition of course is kept alive and flavorful through the famous cheese pie of Alonnisos, the Kakavia, the baked figs with honey, the walnut pie, the Fushkakia, and the almond cakes which we enjoyed in Hayati of the Hora.
Every year, traditional events such as the Alonnisos wedding (on August 15th) are revived in the center of Hora, while there is also a re-enactment of the threshing of wheat in the month of July (Alonari).
In conclusion, the island of the seal, as the locals tell us, is the place where you will have less to think and more to remember!
Special thanks to: Seajets, Peugeot Hellas, Mayor of Allonisos Mr Petros Vafinis, Mar Punta Resort, Allonisos of Santikos Collection, Hagiati piano bar, Tassia’s Cooking, Panoufles Tavernas, Fanariou Tavern, Alonnisos Travel & More, Shopandtrade, Saucony Greece, Aristoteli Bitsiani, and Mythic collection.
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