The well-known city of Oinoe was once the island’s most important city and has been associated throughout the ages with the worship of Dionysus. Today, the ruins of ancient Oinoe include the area around the mouth of the river Voutside in the northern part of the island near the present-day village of Kambos.
Despite its former significance, very little exists of the ancient city today, with only the “palace” surviving, as it is referred to by the island’s locals. The structure is actually a subsequent Roman structure that dominates the side of Agia Eirini Hill.
Built from marble and local limestone and once featuring mosaic floors, the palace stood in the centre of the town. The acropolis of Oinoe was built near the top of the hill whose south side is occupied by the Byzantine church of St. Irene. The church was built on top of an ancient temple, most likely dedicated to the god Dionysus. The Christians used much of the temple’s materials for the construction of the church.
The lack of Oinoe’s ruins is somewhat made up for by the 252 artefacts that have been found throughout the wider Kambos region and are kept by the Kambos Archaeological society. Nothing remains today of Oinoe’s harbour that once occupied the mouth of the Voutsides River. During the city’s acme of importance, an inlet deep and wide enough for ships, lead all the way to the inner valley, perhaps even reaching the foot of the hill on top of which the ancient city was built. However, with the passing of time, the ground’s erosion and mudslides from the surrounding heights, narrowed the riverbed and made it impossible for ships to remain afloat. Eventually, it closed up all together and became a sandbar.