Kythnos sailing holidays
The island of Kythnos - Κύθνος lies south-south-east of Kea and is a rocky and mostly barren island of karstic limestone, that is usually covered in an abundance of colourful flowers in the early months of the sailing season.
The coast is much indented – with many beautiful anchorages and ports – and for the most part falls steeply down to the sea. The inhabitants live by farming and fishing, while in antiquity iron was mined on the island.
Highlights are the villages of Chora and Chorio, Mericha and Loutra ports and the splendid anchorages of Sandbar bay, Stefanos bay (also to visit Chorio) and Kanala bay, see below.
To the north of the small (ferry) port of Mericha, on a high crag above the bays of Apokrousi and Episkopi, are the ruins of the Kythnos' former capital, Vryokastro (Evraiokastro).
On the rocky peninsular island in Sandbar bay, originally connected properly with the mainland, traces of the agora and of a number of tombs in the surrounding area can still be identified, together with ruins of walls, temple foundations and three caves for water collection.
Sandbar bay, just a couple of minutes motoring north from Mericha, features numerous secluded anchorages plus a 40°C water fountain
History of Kythnos
Towards the north, high above the western shores, is the hidden gem of the medieval (7th c.) Kastro Orias - Κάστρο της Ωριάς/Οριάς: Castle of the fair Maiden, that provided long-term safety for ±100 buildings and ±500 inhabitants. This lasted till 1537 when the Turk Barbarossa raided the island, after which the survivors founded a new capital at the current Chora.
Like the medieval castle, the two charming inland villages, Chora (Kythnos capital) and the lively little Dryopis or Dryopia or Chorio, can best be visited by scooters/bicycles.
Dryopis preserves the name of the original settlers on the island, after the Dryopes from Evvia, who were later driven out by the Ionians. Around the village are numerous windmills and the Katafaki cave, which served in the the past as a refuge.
Although Kythnos never played any important part in history, it can take pride in having one of the oldes settlements in Greece; Mesolithic Maroulas near Loutra.
The earliest inhabitants in written history were the pre-Hellenic Carians – allied to or under the dominion of the Minoans – who eventually abondoned the island and settled in south-west Turkey, now a popular sailing venue called the Carian coast.
In the south-east of the island is Kanala bay, with the Church of the Panayia Kanala, which holds a miraculously retrieved icon.
Panagia Kanala - Παναγιά Κανάλα is the patron saint of Kythnos island and local lore has it that his icon was found in a canal. The marvel is celebrated extensively on 15 August and 8 September with dancing and dining. The engaging anchorage – drop your anchor just west of the minute pier – provides sufficient safety in northerlies but is open to the south. The small promotory has become rather developed but in tasteful cubic, white and blue fashion, with lush and green surroundings.
Note the reef roughly 0.3 nm south of Kanala cape.
Loutra on the north-east nowadays features a port providing the best protection from the Meltemi on the island. The mineral baths after which the port took its name, are unfortunately no longer in use (we had an abysmal but hilarious spa treatment there, being verbelly abused non-stop by the bath-lady-in-chief).
These mineral springs were already frequented in Roman times and can still be seen as (covered) streams that flow towards the port. During the period of Venetian rule the island was known, after the springs, as Thermiá (Italian: Fermenia). The now dilapidated bathing establishment was built in the reign of Otto of Bavaria, first King of Greece.