By Thomas Panagiotopoulos

From the bay of Kalotaritissa of the island Donousa we sailed towards Kalotaritissa of Amorgos, which is on the southwestern side of the island. A large bay, which is the only natural harbor of Amorgos, is protected from all kinds of weather.



Although Kalotaritissa is where a stone paved road leads, it does not attract many visitors and it is a very peaceful anchorage, an ideal place to stay overnight. There is a small canteen on the beach and a small jetty on the north side of the bay, where occasionally some water taxis and tour boats tie.

NikouriaA few hundred meters north of the entrance of Kalotaritissa there is the islet Gramboussa. At the southeastern end, a very beautiful beach is formed with green waters and very fine pebbles, which will amaze us especially when the winds are not blowing.

Early in the afternoon we slowly entered the large bay of Katapola, which is the main port of the island. The entrance overlooks west, and penetrates the land for more than a mile; it is fully protected from the winds. Three small villages stretch around the bay. These are Katapola on the south side, Rahidi behind the cove and Xylokeratidi on the north side.

Katapola forms the core of the island and its gateway with the rest of the world. Here is where the ferries tie, while the sailing boats and big cruise ships tie in the waterfront. Katapola is a lively port with many shops along the coastal road. There are groceries, old cafes, small taverns and restaurants full of people all day long, but they reflect a distinct atmosphere that is unusual in busy ports.

In the early afternoon we passed the lighthouse which is on the northern cape of Katapola and headed to the islet Nikouria, which is three nautical miles to the northeast. Crossing the south part of Gramponisi we headed to the southeast side of Nikouria.

An extended bay is formed there, which is one of the safest and windless places of Cyclades. It is an ideal and peaceful place to spend the night, with the eastern end of the islet approaching the coasts of Amorgos, and leaving only a small passage in the middle. It forms a big “hug” which provides a shelter from the winds even when they are so strong that they break the wind gauges.

Αγία ΆνναThe next morning we entered the large bay of Aegiali, located just two miles east. Even from far away, the beautiful harbor and villages called Gialitika which are perched on the surrounding hills create beautiful scenery and induce us to explore them. All villages are amazing and apart from the magnificent views they offer, they are distinct because of their genuine Cycladic color. Whitewashed houses, paved streets and squares full of taverns and traditional cafes, offer us unforgettable images of an old Greece which insists on resisting and maintaining its traditions and the authentic character of its islands. Of course, no one can claim to know Amorgos, unless he visits the Gialitika villages.

In the bay of Aegiali, there is one of the largest and the most beautiful beaches of Amorgos. The wide sandy beach, with the crystal clear waters and the huge thrifts that provide shade, attracts many people without of course being overcrowded. The waterfront starts from the southern end of the beach, which gets to a large concrete pier that protects the harbor from the western winds. The fishing boats and the large caiques take over most of the harbor, but with a little effort we will find a place to moor. The road along the cost is full of taverns, cafes and shops, but the harbor of Aegiali fully retains its own distinct color, making it a very peaceful and hospitable place.

Passing by the northern cape of Aegiali, we turned our bow towards the northeastern side of Amorgos. From that point to the cape Prasinos, the beautiful waters and the impressive vertical cliffs of Krikelos plummeting from a great height into the sea, create a stunning landscape, which certainly is one of the most spectacular of the Aegean and the Mediterranean Sea. I do not know whether Luc Besson came here, and was influenced by this view to give the title “Le Grand Bleu” to his famous film. What I do know though, is that the film which since 1988 has been a synonym to Amorgos, finds the justification of its title in this place.
ΑμοργόςIf we are lucky to circumnavigate the northeast side of the island with a windless sea, we can move in the shadow of the rocks, admiring the magnificent and rare color of the waters. After the first three miles from the cape of Aigiali we encounter two openings in the solid rocks, where the impressive bays of Mikri and Megali Vlihada are formed. Penetrating for several tens of meters in the land, they host in their inner part beautiful and secluded pebbled shores. A path from Tholaria leads to Mikri Vlihada, while a large and impressive gorgeleads to Megali Vlihada, whose vertical sides are only a few meters apart. After Megali Vlihada, the rocks raise even higher and vertical now, plummet into the deep water. A wild and imposing landscape that is getting inaccessible and very dangerous when the winds rage.

Passing by the cape Prasino, the coasts are still impressive and the waters are marvelous. From that point we clearly discern the entire back side of Amorgos, which is like a huge mountain range and stretches for 19 nautical miles. Just after the cape numerous caves are formed, in some of which we can enter with the rib for several tens of meters. Three miles south, hidden in the steep rocks, there is the impressive bay Sparti. The extremely narrow and limited pebbled shore, the two small caves and the huge solid rocks that are cluttered on the left side, create very impressive scenery, which is even more exciting if we look us up and realize how tiny we look.

ChozoviotissaThe famous Monastery of Panagia Chozoviotissa rises five miles to the south, as if it is wedged into the vertical cliff. Three hundred meters above the sea level, a white touch among the reddish rocks, attracts the gaze from miles away. The small windows of the convent looking like battlements are clearly discernible from the sea and highlight its long history. Panagia Chozoviotissa is truly a unique and magnificent monument that apart from its major historic value through time is a stunning sight hovering literally in the void. It is unique in the Aegean, welcomes every year thousands of visitors from all over the world, and is definitely worth visiting n matter how many miles we need to travel. No description or photograph can convey in the least what we are about to see, either from the sea or from the small courtyard of the monastery.
In the shadow of Chozoviotissa, there is the chapel of Agia Anna perched on a low rock. The small coast just below and Kampi a few meters to the west attract many people and are the most famous beaches of Amorgos. Many shots of “Le Grand Bleu” were filmed in the turquoise waters of Agia Anna, which made Amorgos famous worldwide.
From the Monastery of Chozoviotissa to the south, the mountain hills of Amorgos go down to the sea smoothly, but the coasts are still fascinating. Five miles away we find the coast called Mouro, which is certainly one of the most impressive of the island. Of a rather limited length, covered with grey sand and fine pebbles, it is formed in front of a breathtaking, vertical cliff. It is worth going up the steps on the east side of the beach and getting to the cafe-restaurant on the top of the hill. The view towards the coast Mouro, revealing the caves on the west side of the bay and the turquoise waters, is magical.

While entering into the narrow passage of Kalotaritissa and trying to keep in our memory the amazing pictures that Amorgos granted us during our circumnavigation, our bow was marking the entrance of the bay Katapola. We tied on the mole of Ag. Panteleimonas and we spent a quiet evening, overlooking the illuminated harbor.

ΛόζαThe next day, we rented a jeep to wander around the mainland, which hides many beautiful surprises. Five kilometers away from Katapola there is the Chora, the capital of Amorgos.
Invisible from the sea, stretched out on the south side of the Prophitis Elias, it is undoubtedly one of the most special Chores in the Cyclades. The Venetian Castle, windmills, the narrow alleys and the numerous squares we find unexpectedly at various places, are in a unique arrangement that we are not used to. In this Chora, however, there is something more that cannot be recorded. An invisible harmony and serenity overwhelm the alleys as well as the small squares, and if you can feel it you will be one of many fanatic lovers of Amorgos.

At the very entrance of the Chora, a small and charming neighborhood that has everything welcomes us. The Platea, as the locals call the square of Agion Panton, is the place where we find images that take us back many years. On the left, the low old houses, the traditional café where the elderly gather, the pharmacy, and opposite that the old grocery store, are images of an outdoor “museum” which insists, however, on remaining alive. A few steps away there is the church of Agioi Pantes. This is the starting point of the main path that leads us to the heart of the Chora. If we turn left we will find the church of Agion Apostolon, behind which us a sweet surprise is Amorgosexpecting us. The wonderful pastry shop “Callisto”. A row of blue tables in the narrow paved alley, which are spread into the low domed portico leaving only a small passage that hardly, allows a person to pass, lure us to take a seat. The temptations are numerous and so strong that it is impossible to resist and unavoidably every now and then we will find ourselves in a beautiful place enjoying our coffee, sweet or our ouzo.

A little further north raises the solid rock where the small Venetian Castle is located. The whitewashed, almost circular stone staircase leads us to the church of Ai Georgis which is very close to the northern tip of the rock. Around the castle there are the low and deserted stone houses of Vorina, which is the oldest neighborhood of the Chora. On the south side of the castle, a short alley takes us to Loza. This is the name of the large and oblong central square in front of the Cathedral. The traditional coffee-patisseries which place their tables on the pavement and the large eucalyptus trees in the square centre compose idyllic scenery, which is also the main area for the festivals and events.
And of course we cannot leave the Chora without visiting the historic mills which are spread across the ridge of the hill.
For two consecutive days we were wandering in the mountainous Amorgos. Amorgos is certainly not an island to visit just once. No matter how many times you visit it, there is something new to discover. It takes several days to explore the seas around it, the beautiful mountainous villages and the unique attractions.

For travellers
Aegiali The Monastery of Chozoviotissa, the Chora and the amazing villages of Aegiali, the deep blue color of the sea that enchanted Luc Besson, and the stunning cliffs of Krikelos plummeting vertically in the bottomless waters, are each one of them a good reason to visit Amorgos. With a perimeter reaching 47 nautical miles, and with a particularly spectacular coastline, it is a unique destination that definitely requires several days to explore.
The winds around Amorgos last for about 40 days, from about July 10 until August 20. In July they blow with a force of 5-6 Beaufort, while in August they often reach 7 Beaufort. They get stronger after 10 o'clock in the morning to reach their peak shortly after noon and soften after 7:00 p.m. However, the ripple is still there in the afternoon and sometimes becomes bigger, even though the winds soften. The sea, of course, during those hours is far gentler to sail.
The Worst seas, which are among the most difficult to cross in the entire Aegean, are in the east and north of Amorgos. Very often they are inaccessible and are definitely to be avoided. The whole Icarian Sea surges there, with no islands on the way to stop its course.
On the contrary, on the other endof Amorgos, just beyond Kalotaritissa, the weather is much softer and it is easier to cross the sea. When we head south and we sail past Amorgos, it is preferable to pass by the western end and not try to pass by the eastern coasts of the island.