The island Megisti, better known as Kastelorizo, is the easternmost part of Europe. It is only 2 miles far from the Turkish coast. According to the most prevailing version, the island was named Megisti (the biggest) as it is the biggest of a group consisting of fourteen small islands, the best known of which is Ro.
The name of Kastelorizo has western origins and it means "red castle". From the archaeological findings we can conclude that the island has been inhabited since age-old years. It was first inhabited by Dorian races and it later was conquered by the Persians. Since 4th century BC the island has been part of Rhodes state. There was growth of naval activities that has been recorded since the medieval period. In the years of the Knights' rule the island belonged to the Knights' of Rhodes state. In 1523 Kastellorizo was conquered by the Turks and was part of the privileged islands of Archipelagos. It participated in the Greek independence revolution of 1821 to return to the Turkish rule. In the years of the 1st World War the island was conquered by the French and then the Italians. During the two world wars Kastellorizo was bombed which caused a lot of damage and as a result a lot of the inhabitants had to emigrate elsewhere, particularly Australia. In 1948 the island joined Greece.
HISTORICAL LANDMARKS & MONUMENTS
Acropolis: Believed to have been built in the 4th century BC. This is the castle, which gave its name to the island (Castello Rosso = red castle). Beside the remains are a Turkish bathhouse and a windmill. At the same location the Knights' castle has also been built, of which a tower and an external parapet, where the museum is accomodated, have survived
«Vigla» (4th century BC): At the mountain location of Aghios Ioannis, with remains of wine presses, an ancient cemetery, massive shaped stones and other finds.
Archaeological site (4th century BC): On the plateau of Aghios Georgios tou Vounou.
Kastro (west of the town - 4th century BC, or Hellenistic period): Built on an area of raised ground, with two votive inscriptions in the walls (2nd century BC) dedicated by the military administrators of Rhodes known as the epistates.
Lycian Tomb (east of the harbour - 4th century BC or Hellenistic period): Built 30m above sea level, the tomb is 3m in height and 2.7m wide.
Church of Aghios Georgios tou Vounou: Built on elevated ground the church resembles a castle and is reached from the harbour by 315 steps. The sanctuary was renovated in 1759 by the Blessed Anthimos Kourouklis, from Kefallinia. Within the church there is a hole which leads down into a cave and catacombs with a well and a wall painting of Saint Haralambos. Next to it there is also Aghios Ioannis tou Vounou.
The most important churches and monasteries to be visited on the island are the following:
The Cathedral of Saints Konstantinos and Helene (Horafia - 1835), the Panayia, Aghios Spyridonas and Aghios Georgios tou Louka (Horafia), Aghios Savvas (Mikros Niftis), Aghia Paraskevi (Mantraki), the little church of Aghios Nikolaos and Aghios Dimitrios (Mastro), Panormitis tou Nikolettou (on the Aulonia road), Aghios Georgios, Aghios Merkourios - and within it Aghios Fanourios (Pigadi), Aghios Stephanos (Ag. Stephanou promontory), Aghios Georgios (Nisi), Aghios Georgios (Ro), Panayia, Aghios Panteleimonas, Aghios Georgios, Aghia Marina, Aghia Paraskevi, Aghioi Anargyroi and Aghios Nikolaos at Palaiokastro, Profitis Ilias and Aghia Triada (Lofos).
MUSEUMS, EXHIBITIONS, LIBRARIES
Historical Museum Megisti - Kastelorizo (in a renovated building at Castro): In the interior yard there is a Turkish spring and parts of early Christian and Byzantine sculptures. In the ground floor rooms there are sculptures from early Christian basilicas, amphorae found in the sea, stone anchors, traditional sponge diving equipment, an old diving suit and the historic lighthouse of Stroggili. In the first floor ancient archaeological findings are exhibited, together with objects from the early Christian and Byzantine periods, frescos removed from Aghios Nikolaos church built in 17th century, icons, various religious items, drawings and photos of meta-Byzantine churches. Finally, there are traditional costumes, embroidery and popular art items.
Mosque (under renovation): It will accommodate the historical collection of the island's recent History.
The capital and only village on the island is Kastelorizo with traditional neo-classic two- or three-floor houses, white or colored, that have been built along the seaside, in front of a red rock.
Interesting public buildings and monuments: The City Hall (Kavos region) and the New Market are two architectural showpieces with arches, built during the Italian rule period, the mosque, the "Santrapia Civil School" (built in 1903 - next to Saints Constantine and Helen church) the most important educational institute on the island, Entefktirio (Aghios Georgios of Pigadi region) where it accommodated the kindergarten at the beginning of 20th century. The bust of Kira tis Ro (Horafion square) who managed to live and keep the island with the same name Greek, the bust of the hero Nikolaos Savvas (Kavos), the monument of unknown soldiers (harbor).
Religious and folk customs of Passion Week: Three-day festivities following Resurrection with live music, singing and dancing. On Easter the Gospel is read in various languages, women dance at the churchyard of Saint Constantine and Helen accompanied by violins playing local traditional Easter songs, while local sweets and sumada (drink made from bitter almonds) are offered.
Other important religious festivals and events: Saint Constantine and Helen festival (21/5), on the day of the assumption of Virgin Mary (15/8), a panegyric mass and procession of the icon takes place, Aghia Paraskevi (26/7) and on the assumption of Virgin Mary eve (14/8) the children light fires and jump above them. On Prophet Elias celebration (19/7) people fall into the sea with their clothes on, while on Epiphany day (6/1) young people fall into the sea to catch the Cross that the priest has thrown.
The traditional products of the island are chick-pea balls, goat stuffed with bread crumbs, wedding rice, "strava" sweets, halva, "katoumaria", figs preserve, "lazarakia', "koulouritses" and sumada.
This section is still under construction.
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