Island Ikaria Travel & Tourism Guide

Ikaria Archeological Sites, Museums & Places of Interest

Visitors to Ikaria can explore a variety of sites around the island including remains and ruins of ancient temples and old castles, churches and monasteries, museums, architectural sites of interest and nature areas.

Drakano Fortress Map

Drakano-Fortress


One of the best preserved examples of Athenian military watchtowers from the Hellenistic period, Drakano Fortress and its fortifications were built during the time of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC.br>
This 44 foot high limestone tower served as an observation point for Aegean Sea traffic sailing the channel between Ikaria and Samos.

The tower was part of a larger garrison and eventual Ikarian city that was noted for its wine production. In 1827 the tower was damaged by Greek naval forces who used it for target practice. Near the tower stands the solitary Church of St. Georgis, and below the church is the remote sandy beach of St. Georgis. Access to Drakano is via a dirt road leading from the seaside village of Faros. The road ends where a footpath begins, and visitors must then hike about 15 minutes north to the fortress area.
Koskina Castle Map

Koskina-Castle


The Castle of Koskina is a 10th century A.D. Byzantine castle fortress located on a mountain peak overlooking the village of Kosikia in the center of Ikaria. It was used to protect the Ikarians from attacks of pirates and enemies, thus its stategic position on such a steep mountain. Inside the castle is the church of St. George Dorganas. Climbing up to the castle is of medium difficulty, but the breathtaking view from the top is well worth the effort. Access to Koskina Castle is via a signposted unpaved road near Kosikia which branches off from the central mountain pass connecting Evdilos to Agios Kirikos.
Byzantine Odeon At Ancient Oenoe Map

Byzantine-Odeon-At-Ancient-Oenoe


The Byzantine Odeon is located at the village of Kampos in the northern part of the island. It is on the ancient site of "Oenoe", known to be one of the most fertile places on the island and the wealthy ancient capital of Ikaria. Oenoe was a prosperous city known throughout the ancient world for its viticulture and association with Dionysos - God of Wine.

The Byzantine or Roman Odeon, literally translating into ?small theatre? was built in the 1st Century A.D. The remnants show that the Odeon has the same construction plan as the Roman theatres and is divided into three main sections including the scene, the orchestra and the cavea. It served as a meeting place where the noblemen of Oenoe could gather and enjoy musical and theatrical events.

Apart from theatrical events, the Odeon is also thought to have been used for auditions reserved to magistrates, as well as important civil, military and religious people and their families. Oenoe has a history that goes back to around 750 B.C. Echoes of this history can be seen in the church of Agia Irini (St. Irene), parts of which date to the 11th century. Agia Irini is still used for regular church activities including weddings, baptisms, and memorial services. ...
Temple Of Artemis Tavropolion Map

Temple-Of-Artemis-Tavropolion


The sixth century BC temple of Artemis at Nas was built by the Ikarians to honor the mother goddess Artemis, patroness of sailors and protector of hunters and wild animals. Nas was probably the first settled area of Ikaria and throughout antiquity its safe anchorage was an important staging point for sea traffic sailing to Asia Minor. Around 1830 local Ikarian villagers melted down most of the temple's stone blocks in order to build a church. Legend has it that the ancient temple's statue of Artemis is buried somewhere in the river. Snorkelling just off the coast one can see the massive columns of the temple. The pier of the ancient port and the floor of the sanctuary still survive as does the beautiful setting of Nas Beach.

Tavropolio was the shrine of Artemis who among other names was also called Tavropolos, goddess of the bull or Tavrovolos. The temple of Tavropolio must have been a late Minoan structure as the goddess was worshipped in the late Minoan period. The "Xsoanan" a carved wooden cult image of the goddess which is said to have been discovered by favor of the heavens proves that the shrine was one of the most ancient temples dedicated to the goddess Artemis.

Ikaria was one of the first stops of Artemis from Asia Minor and Tavropolio a shrine celebrated throughout Greece. Tavropolio prospered in the years when worship of the goddess was at its peak in the era of Attic civilization. According to the historian Ioannis Melas, Tavropolio was probably not only the temple of the goddess Artemis but also a settlement, one of the four ancient settlements on Ikaria, but no evidence has come to light to prove it. Today at the place of worship where magnificent religious rights were once performed, only ruins survive, parts of the floor and columns of the ancient temple. The whole area is studded with remnants of worn awat marbles. The remains of an old lime kiln reveal that in the early 19 Century the structures of Tavropolio were melted down to obtain building materials for the erection of churches.
Menhir Monuments Map

Menhir-Monuments


Near the airport in Faros in the area called "Propezoulopi ", ancient stone monuments called "Menhir" are found scattered along the mountainside. Little in known about the area but it is thought to have been a sacred ancient region of Ikaria, perhaps a burial ground or a site for offerings and worship. The surrounding terrain is rugged, beautiful and offers excellent views. The place has a "spooky" feel and there are scattered ruins of old stone houses and broken pottery vessles from the settlement that once existed there.

Kavo Papa Lighthouse Map

Kavo-Papa-Lighthouse


The Lighthouse of Kavos Papas is situated on the southwestern cape of Ikaria. This UNESCO registered Cultural Heritage site belongs to the Greek government-Lighthouse Service of the Greek Navy.

Built between 1886 and 1890 by the French Company of Lighthouses during the Ottoman Empire, it lights one of the most difficult passages in the central Aegean, between Mykonos and Ikaria. It became operational for the first time on 20 May 1890 and joined the Greek lighthouses network on April 9, 1915 shortly after the Balkan wars. For many years, the lighthouse beam was generated using an oil burning system. In 1933, it begun to operate with bulbs filled with petroleum vapor. The internal mechanism of the lighthouse is characterized by a clockwork system of rotating gears upon which is integrated the lightbeam..

During the Second World War, the lighthouse was converted into a garrison of the Italian Army and suffered damages in battles. The lighthouse was re-opened in 1945 with the temporary installation of an automatic acetylene torch, while work began on repairing the damage. The repair work was completed in intervals during 1949, 1958 and 1979, with the installation of new lighting equipment.

In 1980 the lighthouse was converted into an electric lighting system but kept the former oil system as a backup, until October 2000, when it was fully automated. The lighthouse beam height is approximately 75 meters and is visible from 25 nautical miles. The beam interval is a single sweeping white flash every 20 seconds. The height of the cylindrical tower is 11 meters and access to the top is via an internal staircase of 32 stone and 21 metal stairs.

Access to the lighthouse is via a dirt road with branches of from the main coastal road leading to Karkinagri. In order to reach the lighthouse on foot you must traverse a somewhat difficult path. Alternatively you can observe the lighthouse from where the dirt road ends.
Roman Baths Map

Roman-Baths


Built during the Hellenistic Period, the ruined walls of Roman baths situated at ancient Therma are all that remain of the once prosperous Ikarian city that thrived as a result of the visitors from Greece and Asia Minor who came to bath in its therapeutic hot mineral springs. In its heyday the Ancient city of Therma was well known, but it ceased to exist after a devastating earthquake hit the city circa 205 BC. Via snorkeling one can still make out some evidence of underwater remains of the city where it slid into the sea just offshore from the Roman baths. Access to the site is via a footpath marked with green leading from the back of the Agriolycos Pension in Therma. There is a cave on this path that was used as a hiding spot by Ikarians in past times of danger. Walking further along the path brings one to a place on the coast where the hot mineral water flows into the sea (Loumakia), affording the opportunity to bath in it. All in all a worthwhile excursion.
Rock Of Ikaros Map

Rock-Of-Ikaros


Located in the sea about 50m offshore on the sea coast below Vaoni village, the "Rock of Ikaros" according to mythology is where Ikaros fell into the sea after having lost his wings. The surrounding coast line is formed of naturally carved marble and is a beautiful and interesting landscape to explore. The site was designated as the ceremonial base for lighting the flame of the World Air games and the organizers built a stone amphitheater and impressive flame base for the ceremony that took place. Access to the site is via the main road from Agios Kirikos to Magganitis. A left turnoff down onto a dirt road 800m before the village center of Vaoni will lead you down to the sea near the site. The road can be washed out at times so care is needed and it may be neccessary to walk towards the end.
Ikaria Archeological Museum Map

Ikaria-Archeological-Museum


The new Archaeological Museum of Ikaria opened in summer 2015 is located in the capital Agios Kirykos and housed in a beautiful neo-classical period building dating to 1925. The building originally served as a high school and was made possible by donations from Ikarians living in America.
Ikarian Folklore Museum Map

Ikarian-Folklore-Museum


Located in Agios Kirikos, a short walk from the main square, The Folk & History Museum of Agios Kirikos in Ikaria was launched in July 2010, and is the result of the long efforts by Professor Themistocles Katsaros. Its mission is to preserve and promote Ikarian folklore, traditions and customs through its display of over 1,500 objects that reflect the history and heritage of Ikaria and its inhabitants.

The Museum exhibits items of cultural importance from the island, including dresses, textiles, household articles, pottery, agriculture and trade tools & instruments, photos, documents and many other objects. Of particular interest amongst the items displayed in the museum is the flag of the Free State of Ikaria (1912).

Some of the exhibits have been organised thematically and chronologically, so that objects and images give visitors an idea of social and economic life in Ikaria from the 18th century to the 1970s, when traditional life still continued in the region. Well worth a visit while in Agios Kirikos. Please check with the municipality for hours of operations.
Wine History Museum Map

Wine-History-Museum


The Afianes Wine History Museum is located at the Afianes Winery in Profit Ilias village near Xristos-Raches. The exhibit room, which is also used for wine tasting, features objects from Ikaria's long tradition of wine making. A variety of ceramic wine vessels, woven baskets, wine making tools, implements and machinery as well as memorabilia, weapons, kitchen utensils, garments and documents are on display. The winery also offers daily tours and wine tastings and features an outdoor ampitheater where music,drama and dance performances are held in the summer. Tel. (+30 22750) 40008 & 41556.
Vrakades Folklore Museum Map

Vrakades-Folklore-Museum


The Folklore Museum of Vrakades is located in the scenic village of Vrakades, 650 meters above sea level on the north-western side of the island. The village was founded in the 17th century and contains old stone houses and captains' villas of architectural note. The museum houses an interesting collection of items related to the history and people of the region. Of particular interest are documents and memorabilia from the Free State of Ikaria.

Other exhibits include various clay and wooden objects used by the housewife, the beekeeper, and the farmer. Ecclesiastical relics from Profit Elias in Vrakades and the convent of Evagelistrias Mavrianou, books by Ikarian writers, Ikarian records and documents over 500 years old. Of note is the cutter, lanari in Greek, used for the processing of wool and goat hairs from which the modest local clothing was made. The simple tool used for making ropes,"isgos" an old diggin tool, and many other tools belonging to the first inhabitants of the island. Tel: +30 22750 41381
Archeological Museum Of Kampos Map

Archeological-Museum-Of-Kampos


Situated on a hill which was the ancient citadel of Oinoe, the first capital of Ikaria, the Kampos Archeological Museum contains over 250 finds from Ikaria. Museum items include Neolithic tools, pottery vessels, clay statuettes, columns, coins, and carved headstones. The museum is located within a courtyard that also contains the island's oldest church dating from the 12th century. The Church of St. Irene built on the site of a 4th century basilica and the columns standing on the ground are from that original church which in turn was built on the site of an ancient temple to Dionysus.

The Kambos Museum is at the archaeological site of Kambos (ancient Oinoe). It contains finds from the districts of Kambos (ancient Oinoe), Nas (temple of Artemis Tauropolos), Arethousa, Christos Rachon, Proespera, Frantato and other places. The exhibits in the museum include vases, statues, grave goods, sarcophagi, figurines and architectural members. Among the finds is an outstanding marble sarcophagus of late antiquity. It is carved with garlands, rosettes and fruit in relief and probably comes from a workshop in Asia Minor.

For admission ask in the village for Vassilis, the museum caretaker. Admission is free. Photography is prohibited.
Mavrianou Monastery Map

Mavrianou-Monastery


Located on the south western coast of Ikaria, the Monastery of Evaggelistrias Mavrianou is dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary and was constructed in late 18th century. Up until 1960 the monastery was run and inhabited by monks. Nowadays it is still an interesting place to visit and open to the public. After a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation several years ago, the monastery buildings and main church were repaired.

Besides the beautiful view of the sea and rural mountain surroundings, of interest is the remains of a marble base and pillar and various fragments of marble and clay, that evidence the existence of an ancient temple or settlement where the monastery is now situated. In the monastery there are 10 cells, but today they are not inhabited. In the church, you can see a wooden iconostassis, dating to around 1820 and an image of the Virgin, which has an inscription to the Virgin Mary.

Every year on May 1st an Ikaria Panagiri (feast celebration) and party takes place at the monastery starting in the early afternoon. The festivities feature grilled locally produced meat and salads, Ikarian wine, music and dancing. Definitelty worth the trip if you are in Ikaria at that time.

Visitors are free to walk around the monastery, its church and various buidling anyday. Just be sure to close any doors that you open. The drive from Armenistis takes about 30 minutes and is on a mostly flat dirt road.
Mounte Monastery Map

Mounte-Monastery


The Monastery of Mounte Evaggelismos (The Annunciation) is located near the village Kastanies near Raches. A beautiful verdant setting surrounds the monastery, including a small wetlands area and dam on the river Myrsonas in what is known locally as the 'Vathes' region.

The monastery is dedicated to the Annunciation and is called Mounde or Mounte. According to Ikarian history, a family from Chios, named Mounde, gave financial support for the restoration of the monastery, so the monastery was honored with their name. Another version claims that that the name Mounte comes from the Italian word '' il Monte'', ie mountain, as the Italian conquerors called it, during the Italian-Greek war, because it is located in a mountain setting.

Built around 1460 AD after an Ikarian child dreamt that the Virgin Mary told them the exact location to unearth a buried beautiful and rare icon depicting the Immaculate Conception. At that location, the first monastery was built. Later, a widening of the monastery took place and two other chapels were created, dedicated to the Synaxis of the Twelve Apostles and the other to the Annunciation. Each small chapel has its own altar and its own main entrance.

Inside the monastery are various murals and old icons.The main wooden iconostasis of the monastery is equisite. Architecturally, the church was designed as a three-domed basilica. During the Greek Civil War( 1947-1949), the monastery served as a hospital and cared for over 120 political exiles suffering from tuberculous. The remains of some of them, are found in the courtyard of the monastery. Today there is a monk in residence who takes care of the church and grounds and holds occassional services. He also offers guests a short tour/history of the monastery and offers coffee in his rectory.
Theoktistis Monastery Map

Theoktistis-Monastery


The Monastery of Osias Theoktisti is located in Pigi village, near Kampos, on the north side of the island. It is a monastery dedicated to the Blessed Theoktiste from Molyvos, Lesvos, who according to tradition, is connected to Paros and Ikaria.

It is not known exactly, when the monastery was built, but an inscription on it, indicates that the monastery operated in 1688, when its hagiography took place. Today, no monks live in the monastery.

From an architectural standpoint, the monastery consists of: the Catholic (i.e. the main temple where all the monks were gathered), fifteen cells that work as hostels and various auxiliary spaces. The Catholic architectural belongs to the type of aisled, barrel-vaulted basilica and has several murals.These murals refer to Cretan painting. Tradition says, that the painter Pantelis Hatzis, reader from Chios and one assistant of him, took the painting up to the monastery.

A little further from the main temple, you can visit the Chapel of Theoskepasti, formed in an impressive way, inside a cave, which on top is covered with a rock. Perhaps one of the most impressive chapel in the world!According to local tradition, the inhabitants carried the remains of Osias Theoktistis from the Catholic sanctuary, inside the cave and formed the area as a chapel. Inside the cave old carved iconostasis is preserved, dating from around 1894.

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