Across the Aegean Sea, among the most inaccessible and invisible parts of the barren rocks, a priceless treasure is hidden.
White touches that are in total contrast with the bare landscape and the deep blue sea. Real gems and "monuments" of the cultural world heritage.
The magnificent Chores of the Archipelagos!
From a far distance they might all look the same, but each one of them is unique. It is really impossible to single out a Chora as being more beautiful than the others. But I will dare to attribute this honor to the Chora of Folegandros.
Folegandros is the most enchanting and loveliest Chora of Cyclades!
Once we found with great difficulty a place to tie up the rib in the small harbor of Karavostasis, we went further away where every hour on the hour a bus leaves to Chora. After covering a distance of three km in the barren landscape, the first houses of Chora appear. We got off at Punta and this is the first square that we see. And I mention this, because the charm of Chora is mainly due to the six small squares, which succeed one another in a very short distance. Overrun by the green vegetation, like small and independent neighborhoods, each one has its own unique identity and history. The traditional coffee shops and taverns have their tables on the stone pavement and these fill the squares from one end to the other. From the early evening hours all the squares are full of life. The tables are crowded with people who enjoy their food or drink, while many rejoice their evening stroll admiring the beauties of Chora. During that time, too many people crowd in the rather limited square meters of the Chora, but this takes place harmonically and reflects a sense of a fairy tale. A different kind of quality, in a dreamy setting.
Amazing houses, wonderful and elaborate shops, meticulously tidy to the last details, clean stone pavements framed with numerous blossoming bougainvilleas, compose wonderful corners that we can see in every step we take. Everything is so well placed and prepared with such care, that there is no way to find even a minor blemish. Nothing can alter even in the least the aesthetics of Chora. Even the various signs are small artworks. Handmade and discreet, they are part of an unprecedented aesthetic climax.
If we do not know about it in advance, it is only by chance that we will enter the Castle. Of course, we will be speechless from the very first moment. We will see an equally fascinating, but completely different setting from that of Chora. A setting that seems to be intact over the years and represents a real museum of history and cultural heritage.
Here, as well as in Kimolos, the Castle is not like the ones we are used to. Instead of the tall stone walls, there were the backsides of two-storey houses which of course did not have any doors and windows, only small openings serving for observation and the use of firearms.
The castle is triangular and is characterized by the fortified arrangement of its houses. The northern side is built on the edge of the rocks, at 200 meters above the sea level.
We usually enter the castle from Paraporti. This is the secondary gate, which is just a few steps away from the entrance in Ntounavi square.
This is the starting point of Kato Rouga, the wide stone-paved road, which is one of the most illuminated spots of the Aegean. Kato Rouga extends between the two-storey, attached houses of stunning aesthetics. They are in two opposite rows. The white stairs and the small whitewashed courtyards overlooking the stone paved road along with the blue-green doors and windows and colorful flowers that adorn every corner, constitute a fairy image and a genuine Cycladic castle town. There is an architectural grandeur, whose terms of construction were motivated by the need for protection, with historic houses dated hundreds of years ago, many of which are inhabited and still preserved in very good condition.
And of course, once we satisfy our need for wanderings in Chora and the Castle, a visit to the Monastery of Panagia is necessary.
High, slightly below the hilltop, prevails majestically the biggest church of the island dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The white church, which seems to oversee Chora and the sea from the top, apart from the historical interest offers a breathtaking view.
Karavostasis, as its name indicates, is the island's port. Despite the tourist surge of the recent years and the development of large and impressive tourist facilities, it remains a very peaceful coastal village. It extends around a bay sharing the same name, with the typical pebble coast occupying its inner part and it is a portal connecting the island with the rest of the world. The only thing remaining unchanged for years is the underdeveloped port.
The good weather allowed us to wander around even in the rough side of the coast. Early in the morning we set off to the northeast side of Folegandros. Leaving Karavostasis, the scenery changes and becomes very impressive, with masses of solid rocks submersing into the deep sea. Cruising very close to the steep cliffs and admiring the amazing mauve waters, we got under the famous Chrysospilia nearly in a mile (N 36th 37 131 56 634 E. 24th). Its entrance is located 25 meters above the sea level and is easily distinguishable from afar like a big hole in the solid, vertical cliff.
Chrysospilia, full of numerous legends, consists of several rooms abundantly decorated. It has been used since ancient times as a place of worship and rituals, but also as a hideout for the island’s residents at the time the pirates preyed on the Aegean Sea.
In a short distance following Chrysospilia there is the cape of Panagia, where the highest peak of the rock rises over us. Passing by the Cape, we slowly enter into the open bay called Plaka and if we look up there we will see the northern side of the Castle literally hanging on the cliff, and the church of Pantanassa predominating on the west edge. In the cape across, an opening in the rock leads us to the bay of Ag. Nicholaos, which extends for long into the mainland. There is no beach but when the sea is calm, we find ourselves within a large natural pool with beautiful waters. Shortly after, while the majestic mountains are gradually lowering, the bay of Vorina unfolds. Just below the old mills located on the crest, a small beach with bright green waters is formed.
After Vorina the coastline spreads for two miles without any bays or beaches up to the Cape of Kavalaris where on the south, a small bay called Serfiotiko is formed.
Before reaching Castello, which is the northern part of Folegandros, there is the bay of Ai Giorgis. In its inner part, the cove hosts a large beach on the eastern edge of which there is a minor village.
Passing by Kiparissi the northwestern cape of the island, we slowly enter the southwest part of Folegandros. This side is fully protected from the winds and hosts the most beautiful beaches. The first remarkable coast that we encounter is Ampeli, but it is a very confined space. Next to that, in a short distance there is Livadaki, which is easily recognized from the islet at the entrance of the bay. It is a very beautiful beach with small pebbles and the typical smooth slabs on the north side. Both Ampeli and Livadaki are crowded and people go there either following the paths or by boats that set off from the nearby Agkali. If we can tie up in Livadaki it is worth following the path that in a few minutes will take us over the cape Michelos where there is the only lighthouse on the island. The lighthouse, called Aspropounta, is 11 meters tall and 60 meters above the sea level, on the solid steep rock.
In a few minutes we reach the middle of the island, which is its narrowest point.
The large bay Vathi is formed here which is fully protected from the winds. There are times that the entire bay is full of boats that anchor in a row. In the inner part of the bay, at the end of a small gorge that leads to the best beach of Folegandros, there is the holiday resort of Agali . White houses on the hillsides, several taverns and rooms to let are part of this small village, which attracts many visitors.
The small pier located at the western part of the beach, accommodates several boats and is the starting point for “caiques” which constantly transport people to the beaches of this side of the island. Somewhat western of Aggali there are the beaches of Galifos and Agios Nikolaos. Galifos is a very small beach, but what is more impressive is the large sandy beach of Agios Nikolaos. An actual forest of sea plants behind the beach attracts many people who overwhelm the beach.
On the east side of the beach there is the small pier where “caiques” tie, and just above, built on the edge of the cliffs there is the small church of Ag. Nicholas. Behind that, the bar made of wood makes sure that the numerous visitors will be refreshed, who often gather together and light fires, enjoying the beautiful beach until late at night.
From Agali to the southeast edge of the island there are no other beaches. Within those four miles of coastline the scenery is very impressive. The solid brown-red cliffs hanging vertically over the sea from a great height, offer a magnificent spectacle.
Once we pass by the cape Vigla, we find the oblong islet “Makri Katergo”. Behind that there is the beach Katergo which is the trademark of Folegandros for many years now. It is evidently the most spectacular beach of the island, with fine grey pebbles and amazing waters that suddenly deepen. I remember a few years ago we had tied the rib on the west side of the coast, where we camped for two days. We spent hours swimming and fishing, all alone on the beach. Nowadays, Katergo is overcrowded with people arriving mostly by boats “caiques” from Karavostasis, which is less than two miles away. The most adventurous come crossing the path from the small village of Livadi, which is in the southeast of the island. Anyway, it is worth anchoring there and enjoying this wonderful beach.
In recent years, Folegandros has greatly changed. There are many new houses, hotels and rooms to let, while every summer there is a growing number of visitors. It is now one of the most cosmopolitan islands of Cyclades.
- The total length of the island’s coastline does not exceed 17 nautical miles.
- The most leeward bay of Folegandros is Vathi and then the bay Karavostasis. These bays can be used as a starting point and we can spend the night there in safety.
- What you should definitely not miss is Chora, the Castle and the beach of Katergo.
- The only drawback of the island is that there is no organized marina in Karavostasis.