The threshold of the Cyclades

Just a sixty-minute sea voyage away from the densely built Attica coast is enough to take you into the arms of the Aegean sea and soon feel yourself imbued with the mediterranean smells and colours of the Cyclades.

kea, tzia, greece, cyclades, greek, island, aegean, cycladic, ioulida, architecture, chora, ancient city of Karthea, Τζιά, Κεα, Σπαθί, Παναγία Καστριανή, Ιουλίδα, αρχαία Καρθαία

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First impressions: Korissia – the harbour- welcomes the visitor with its bustling activity and tourism infrastructure. The good road network will take you almost everywhere. If you love hiking though, the restored cobbled paths running through the entire island offer a one of a kind experience. (www.keapaths.gr)

kea, tzia, greece, cyclades, greek, island, aegean, cycladic, ioulida, architecture, chora, ancient city of Karthea, Τζιά, Κεα, Σπαθί, Παναγία Καστριανή, Ιουλίδα, αρχαία Καρθαία

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History at a glance: Korissia stands on the site of the ancient Greek city of Koressos -one of the four mighty city-states of the island- which during the Archaic period (7th-6th century B.C.), along with Ioulida, Karthea and Poiessa (nowadays’ Pisses) formed a Confederation. There is no trace of the glory of ancient Koressos, with the exception of the Kouros of Kea, an important statue in the history of Greek art that was excavated in the area of Agia Triada and can be admired at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

Copyright photo: Theo Athanasiadis / Views Of Greece

Back then, Kea was also known as Hydroussa (derived from hydor, water) due to its land’s abundance of water springs unlike its present arid condition. The island was the birthplace of lawmaker Aristides the Just, one of the seven sages of ancient Greece known for his strict laws, as well as of the lyric poet Simonidis, the sophist Prodicus and many other intellectuals.

kea, tzia, greece, cyclades, greek, island, aegean, cycladic, ioulida, architecture, chora, ancient city of Karthea, Τζιά, Κεα, Σπαθί, Παναγία Καστριανή, Ιουλίδα, αρχαία Καρθαία

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Ioulida, the capital: The inland traditional settlement of Ioulida looks like a work of art painted on a bare mountain slope. To visit the inner part of the village you have to go on a walking tour.

kea, tzia, greece, cyclades, greek, island, aegean, cycladic, ioulida, architecture, chora, ancient city of Karthea, Τζιά, Κεα, Σπαθί, Παναγία Καστριανή, Ιουλίδα, αρχαία Καρθαία

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Ascending the central alleyway called Piatsa towards the Venetian castle you will enjoy a magnificent view. The old primary school designed by the renowned architect Ernst Ziller, the neoclassic City hall, the church of Agios Charalambos and the Cycladic architectural features of houses will capture your attention, while a visit to the Archaeological Museum is a must. The largest windmill collection in the Cyclades is found here, on Ioulida’s hills.

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Ancient Karthea: A marked path starting from Havouna village leads to the imposing archaeological site (2 hours). Karthea, the most significant ancient city-state of the island in antiquity, was inhabited continuously from the Geometric period up to the early Byzantine years. The visitor will be impressed by the road network planning and sewer system, as well as by the remains of the Dorian temple of Pythios Apollon near the coastline.

kea, tzia, greece, cyclades, greek, island, aegean, cycladic, ioulida, architecture, chora, ancient city of Karthea, Τζιά, Κεα, Σπαθί, Παναγία Καστριανή, Ιουλίδα, αρχαία Καρθαία

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Best beaches

Korissia Otzias: Starting from the port first you’ll find the busy Korrissia, exposed to the north summer winds (meltemia). Next one is the well organised Yaliskari in the shade of tamarisks.

kea, tzia, greece, cyclades, greek, island, aegean, cycladic, ioulida, architecture, chora, ancient city of Karthea, Τζιά, Κεα, Σπαθί, Παναγία Καστριανή, Ιουλίδα, αρχαία Καρθαία

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Right after you come across Vourkari village known for its natural port, its fish- taverns but not for its beaches. Otzias offers a quite good, windless sandy bay with shallow waters and enough rooms for rent around it.

kea, tzia, greece, cyclades, greek, island, aegean, cycladic, ioulida, architecture, chora, ancient city of Karthea, Τζιά, Κεα, Σπαθί, Παναγία Καστριανή, Ιουλίδα, αρχαία Καρθαία

Copyright photo: Theo Athanasiadis / Views Of Greece

You carry on to Panagia Kastriani monastery and end up at the secluded Spathi beach (5 km), where there is a tavern.

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Pisses-Koundouros: The small delightful sandy beaches of Sykamnias, Orkos and Psili Ammos, among the island’s best, are accessible by car from Ioulida. Driving south you will reach the summer resort of Pisses with its sandy shore. Five more kilometres and you encounter the popular Koundouros with its frequented bays and restored windmills. If you want more privacy, follow the dirt road leading to the beaches Lygia, Kampi and Liparo.

kea, tzia, greece, cyclades, greek, island, aegean, cycladic, ioulida, architecture, chora, ancient city of Karthea, Τζιά, Κεα, Σπαθί, Παναγία Καστριανή, Ιουλίδα, αρχαία Καρθαία

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Do not miss

Kastriani Monastery: The most important monastery of the island (18th century B.C) is built on a rise overlooking Andros and Karystos.

kea, tzia, greece, cyclades, greek, island, aegean, cycladic, ioulida, architecture, chora, ancient city of Karthea, Τζιά, Κεα, Σπαθί, Παναγία Καστριανή, Ιουλίδα, αρχαία Καρθαία

Copyright photo: Theo Athanasiadis / Views Of Greece

The Ancient Tower of Agia Marina: On the road towards Pisses, you will meet one of the tallest preserved fortified towers of the Hellenistic era in the Aegean (4th century B.C.)

Agia Irini: In Vourkari, next to the church of Agia Irini, one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the Aegean has been brought to light (3000 – 1450 B.C.).

kea, tzia, greece, cyclades, greek, island, aegean, cycladic, ioulida, architecture, chora, ancient city of Karthea, Τζιά, Κεα, Σπαθί, Παναγία Καστριανή, Ιουλίδα, αρχαία Καρθαία

Copyright photo: Theo Athanasiadis / Views Of Greece

The Lion of Kea: A marked paved path from Ioulida (1,5 km) takes you to the “Lion of Kea” a huge, impressive sculpture hewed out of rock (6th century BC). There is a myth about “Lionda”- as locals call the stony lion- that many popular beliefs keep it alive.

kea, tzia, greece, cyclades, greek, island, aegean, cycladic, ioulida, architecture, chora, ancient city of Karthea, Τζιά, Κεα, Σπαθί, Παναγία Καστριανή, Ιουλίδα, αρχαία Καρθαία

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Explore

If you rent a four wheel drive car in Korissia, you can take a ride on the dirt road running the south side of the island to discover the rugged charms of the rocky cape Tamelos with its old lighthouse.

Copyright photo: Theo Athanasiadis / Views Of Greece

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