Nisyros lies almost at the center of Dodecanese, between Kos and Tilos. The volcano and its activity gave a conical shape to the island, and descending to caldera offers the visitors an almost metaphysical experience. In the region of Nisyros belong the nearby islets: Giali, Aghios Antonios, Stroggili, Pahia, Pergousa and Calnteleousa (Faros).Apollodoros in his "Bibliothiki" mentions a myth about the island's genesis. The giant Polyvotis was chased by Poseidon and arrived at Kos. Poseidon caught a piece of the island and threw it against him. Polyvotis got buried forever. Whenever he groans, the island trembles. About the same myth is repeated by Stravon in his "Geography", while Nisyros is mentioned by Homer. The contribution of Nisyros navy at the Cretan war was appreciated by the Parliament of Rhodes that honerd admiral Gnomagoras. The first inhabitants of the island were Carians. Nisyros generally followed the fate of the other Dodecanese islands. The "Palaiocastro" became a classic acropolis, the spas in the region of Thermiani became roman baths and the Knight castles indicate the strategic position of the island in the medieval times. The Byzantine devoutness can be seen from the monastery of Spiliani and the Italian occupation by the Administration building at the island's harbor.
HISTORICAL LANDMARKS & MONUMENTS
Palaiokastro: It was the acropolis of the ancient city during the classical period. In excellent condition still, thanks to the high quality of its construction, the castle is regarded by experts as one of the finest fortified structures of ancient times. It is constructed entirely of basaltic andesite, one of the hardest of all stones. The main gateway is made of finely hewn blocks of stone, the surfaces fitted together perfectly. The overall length of the fortifications is considerable, since they enclose the whole land side of the rocky hill above the southern edge of Mandraki.
Kastro Emporeiou: A Knights' castle that surrounds the church of Taxiarhis within it.
Kastro ton Nikeion: A Knights' castle at the highest point of the settlement, with a view of the volcano and the surrounding islands.
Mandraki castle, where Panagia Spiliani was also built.
Neolithic settlement (small island of Giali): Recent excavation has brought to light a group of Neolithic dwellings in the south-western part of the island.
Arma Monastic Complex (18th century): A dependency of the Styliani Monastery since 1727.
Church of Panayia Faneromeni (In a location difficult to access, at Kardia, 4km south of Mandraki - late 11th or early 12th century): The most important church on the island in terms of architecture, with remains of wall paintings. It is of the inscribed cruciform type, with dome. A section of the roof and part of the dome have collapsed, but are gradually being restored.
Siones Monastery: A small monastery with important wall paintings, probably dating from the mid-18th century.
Stavros Monastic Complex: To the right of the church there are three old cells, submerged in the ground, and the remains of eight more cells with a corresponding number of cisterns.
Church of Aghia Triada (SW of Nikia): Small chapel with wall paintings of fine quality, perhaps dating from the 15th century.
Monastery of Panayia Spiliani (At castle of Mandraki - 1400): The main church is dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin, and the chapel to Aghios Haralambos. There is a celebrated icon of the Virgin with two faces, as well as a few icons and gold and silver offerings. The ¡living room' has a collection of ecclesiastical relics on display, and the library boasts a number of rare editions.
Church of the Taxiarchis (Emporeiou Castle): Church with a few wall paintings.
Monastery of Panayia Kyra: A church built at an exceptional location.
Church of Evangelistria (4km from Mandraki): A chapel with a guest house offering hospitality to all wishing to make the morning ascent to the Church of Prophitis Ilias and the Stavrou Monastery.
The church in the ¡hanging garden' of Diavatis (1749): At 638m above sea level, the church stands close to the Chapel of Prophitis Ilias, in a garden full of walnut, fig and pear trees, surrounded by a high wall forming a sheepfold. The date of the church's founding is inscribed in the lava.
MUSEUMS, EXHIBITIONS, LIBRARIES
Historic and Folklore Museum (Mandraki): Objects from the everyday life of Nisyros, embroidery and old photographs.
Religious Museum (Mandraki): It consists of two halls with particularly interesting exhibits. The first hall includes church relics, items, offerings and a rich collection of coins and money notes mainly from Panayia Spiliani as well as traditional objects. In the second hall there is a reproduction of a wood carved icon screen (18th century), a collection of authentic icons that cover the periods from Cretan school till the end of 19th century and a traditional epitaph decorated with flowers.
The villages of Mandraki, Emporios and Nikia are considered today as traditional, while the village of Paloi has not been been characterized as preservable.
Mandraki: White two-floor houses in abstract geometric forms and renaissance style mansions and neoclassic building make up the architectural characteristics of the capital.
Emporios: Simple houses, built with volcano stones next to two-floor neoclassic houses with characteristic inclined roofs and transoms.
Nikia: From there the view of the Aegean Sea and the volcano is panoramic. Mansions have been tastefully restored. The white square is covered in pebbles and is characterized by architectural syncretism.
The religious festival of Panayia Spiliani at Mandraki is the most important event on the island and people from all over the Dodecanese are gathered for the festivities that last for 9 days (6-15/8). The other main religious festivals of Nisyros are: Aghios Nikitas (20 & 21/6), the patron Saint of the island at Mandraki, where the icon of the saint is carried around the village, and the religious festival of the monastery of Panayia Kira (23/8), the monastery of Stavros close to Nikia (14/9), the monastery of Panayia Evagelistria (Tuesday after Easter), Agioi Apostoloi at Paloi (30/8), Aghios Panteleimonas at Avlaki (27/7), the monastery of Panayia Kira (15/8), the monastery of Aghios Ioannis Theologos at Nikia (26/9), Archagelos Michael at Emporio (8/11), Eisodia of Theotokos at Nikia (22/11).In the summer a traditional wedding is organized with three-day festivities. The traditional events and ceremonies (weddings and christenings) of the locals are open to the visitors.There are several traditional windmills and olive presses at the villages.
Thanks to the volcano, the soil of Nisyros is rich. The visitor will find traditional food, such as cream cheese, agramithozoumo, caper, xerotigana, diples, loukoumades, finikia, kurambiedes, moustalevria, preserved fruit (bitter orange, tomato), pastellaries (open figs with almond and sesame) where the basic ingredient is the excellent honey.
Various folklore and cultural events are held in the summer.Early in August the "Sumada" festival is held, with traditional music, lots of sumada and other traditional products.
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