A simple way of life is preserved at Anafi, which is much calmer than neighbouring Santorini, and offers much better beaches overall. Unexplored caves, hiking paths and medicinal herbs are part of Anafi’s offerings, so are intriguing architecture and a variety of archaeological discoveries. Of particular splendour are the wildflowers in spring with the smell of sage and thyme in the air, in true Mediterranean style.
The Hora or capital of Anafi is its sole town with less than 300 inhabitants, built on the ruins of a Venetian castle some 3 kilometres away from the harbour. Designated ‘places of communal importance’ under Natura 2000 include the regions of Rouounas and Kalamos. The latter boasts the largest monolith in the Mediterranean after the rock of Gibraltar.
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Anafi produces a rare variety of wine called strofyliatiko. Sample the thyme honey made on the island, the tasty goat cheese and ladotyri yellow cheese, as well as the red mullet (petro-barbounia) and the original lobster pasta. You can also try the handmade sausages, from local pork meat infused with vinegar and spices, as well as the black bread, dry rusks, pickled caper leaves and stuffed vegetable yemista. On the sweeter side aim for the skaltsounia with sesame and honey, as well as the xerotigana (fried dough).
Kalamos is arguably the most exciting location of the island. With a height of 460 meters, the Kalamos monolith is considered the second largest in the Mediterranean after the rock of Gibraltar. Kalamos constitutes a challenge for climbers. The first climbing route in Anafi was opened in 1999 and was named the Argonaut Expedition. About 5-7 hours are needed for the ascent to the top where the visitor remains speechless from the view of the immense light blue. The descent is done from a well-designated path which passes by the monastery. Rent a boat from the harbour to for a quick 10-minute sail to get there.
The southern side is shady until noon while the northern and eastern ones afford shade in the afternoon. The best time for climbing is in spring from April to June and in autumn from September to November.
Kalamos mountain featured one of the first documented long distance communication through communication towers called Fryktories, dating from 900-1000 BC. The towers employed a combination of fire, smoke and sound to communicate with other islands.
It all depends on the wind and the weather, but there is some spectacular sailing on offer at Anafi. Visitors can take their sailboats or even local fishing boats and sail around the island, or visit the nearby islets of Paheia (Anafopoulo), Ftena, and Makria, which are all attractive in their own way. If you ask the locals, they will also point out other interesting islets.
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The Archaeological Collection of Anafi includes statues and other very interesting discoveries from excavations on the island, now displayed in the main town. The Kastelli hill on which the ancient city was located extends to an altitude of 327 metres. Ruins of the Anafian city-state called Asty can be seen there. The city was probably established in the 8th century BC by Dorian colonists, who dominated island life until the end of antiquity.
Photo cover: www.aegeanislands.gr
The city walls and many ruins of the city's cemetery are also at Kastelli, sor are important finds from the Roman period, during which the island flourished, are scattered throughout the area; one particularly impressive finding is the sarcophagus located next to the historic chapel of Panagia in Dokari
There are many unexplored caves on Anafi. The best known is Drakontospilo with a variety of colourful stalagmites and stalactites.
The town’s most noteworthy churches are Agios Nikolaos with a wooden carved iconostasis, the Timios Stavros with an icon of 10th century, the Koimisi of Panagia, the Agios Spiridon and the Agioi Anargyroi.