Google-Earth Overlay :

Open your GE then return here and click on this link to open my Amorgos GE-Post. Download the post to your Google Earth. This will give you a detailed Map with many trails, all the photos and their location on the island

Map of the Chora (660 kBy)

A corner in Xylokeratidi and the Bay of Katapola (1976).

 Beguiled by the blue Aegean and the austerity of its islands, Barbara and I returned in 1976. I had chosen Amorgos, because being ten hours from Athens it promised few tourists and some lonely "beaches". It would become Our Island, where to we returned again and again for solitude and the simple life.

The Bay of Katapola, Xylokeratidis is left out of the picture, barely visible on the left Rakhidi and Katapola on the right. Beaches around the bay are poor, one of the best, Maltesi in the foreground.


 Breakfast at Tassia's Guesthouse (1985) with Cornelius.

The first time we arrived in Katapola, Amorgos' harbor village, at 3 AM. An old man and his wife eyed the arriving tourist. "You want room?" I answered her in Greek. "You German?" I said yes and a smile crossed her face. She asked us to wait with her husband while she found another couple. A full moon hung between the white-washed houses. They led us into a magic garden of silvery shadows in the moonlight, filled with the smell of orange blossoms. She put her finger to her mouth, "people sleeping" and whispered "which one you want?" while she opened several rooms for us to choose.

 We took a simple room with two clean beds. Next morning she served us breakfast, coffee, bread, honey, and butter. And here we would stay every time we returned. Eventually her husband died, and she did no longer take guest. In 2004 I searched for her and found her sitting bold upright in her garden. We cried.

In 1976 Xilokeratidis was neglected and most people had moved to Athens.

In Xylokeratidis we found a wonderful restaurant by the waterfront, Vintsentzos. The nicest people congrated under its huge trees in the evening.... Many memories attach to Vintsentzos' like the Japanese baritone from Munich, who walked around in a long nightshirt and sang Don Giovanni to the ducks paddling in the dark water (1982). Or Vintsentzos wading into the sea to retrieve Barbara's 20-Euro bill which a gust of wind had blown away (2004)

Amorgos is a long rocky spine with many monopati, foot paths. This is Levkas, a few white houses above the sea, just over the hill from the archeological site of "Minoas" (not a Minaoan town but a Hellenistic one from the second cent. AD with a theater and a castro. (1982)

An hour further south along the western shore is the bay and church of Aghias Sarranda, the Holy Forty (Martyrs). These hills have been inhabited since before the 3rd millenium BC. Two of the ancient cemeteries, Dokathismata and Kornoviglia, are in the hills across the valley. There numerous "Cycladic Idols" - marble statues from the 2nd millenium BC - have been found. Among them the several Goddesses and two harp-players. (2004)

So it was with no surprise that, while I rested above the sea, a harp-player suddenly appeared and played for me. (2004)


 The trickle of water in the "brook" at Aghias Saranda formed, even in September, a couple of "Gumpen," as the Bavarians call these circular holes in the rock bed. Shielded by a profusion of pink oleander we whiled away the day there. (1976)

The church of Levkas in the evening light. Behind it appears Iraklia, the hump-back whale, and the southern tip of Naxos on the right.


The Minoan Maze of the Chora Amorgou, the Island Village

New Map of the Chora

View of Katapola Bay (2005) from the road to the Chora. It was stiched together from 4 photos. (Do click on the image and then again on the new window to let yourself be surprised.)

A view of the bay and Katapola from the foot path to the Khora. As elsewhere in the Cyclades the islands village lies high up in the mountains to protect it from pirates. Only very recently a drivable road had been bulldozed to the Khora, the old foot path is still in good condition. In 1976 we hiked this path for one and a half-hour everyday to get to the pebble beaches beyond the Khora on the precipitous eastern coast.


In 1982 when the road to the Chora and beyond was finished a venerable museum-piece of a bus appeared and a Soviet Volga Taxi, both driven by the same man. After that I often took the bus up and walked down - but Barbara still walks the monopati - because there are a couple of fig trees on the way, which she likes so much.

The Khora seen from the monopati. At one time these fields were cultivated and the grain was milled in a row of windmills above the Khora, today most young people have left for Athens, the mills stand idle, and the food for the few families living in the Khora all year round comes by boat from the mainland. Center left you see the Kastro, the last refuge of the town.(2004)

Western entrance to the Chora and bus stop. Foolish, isn't it, to bring a car to an island barely 80 km long and 8 km wide? But you can even rent cars in Katapola now - $20/day exclusive Gas. (2004-05)

Dimitri's Kafeneion on the Platea where the bus stops - with Dimitri's ghost waiting for you. (2005)


 At the bus stop is the Kafeneion of crusty, colorful Dimitrios Giannakos. (1992) A foresworn, long-standing member of Kappa-Kappa-Epsilon (KKE), the Communist Party of Greece. We made friends with him in 1976. He was one of the remaining residents of the Khora, and terribly disappointed, when after 1989, all his old comrades deserted him for greener pastures in Athens.... On our last visit (2005) we still found, whithered and ill. His last, mentally dense daughter (of three) and his sightless wife boss him around. He will not last much longer.

The Chora is a maze. Expect to get lost. - I still do. Since the early days much has changed and people have come back to spend the summer in the old family houses. And there are many open churches now, whereas there were only a very few in 1976 and 82. I once counted more than forty white domes and sacred huts in and around the Chora....

 Aghias Pantes where the path forks. Take the lower street.


Maria's Pantopoleion - "shop for everything" on Main Street. Maria has, over the years, become another good friend.


Yannis's Café in front of the three churches at the Plateaki in the middle of town, where we have spent many hours. The coffee is good and his wife makes an excellent Khoriatiko salad for lunch. Sometimes beautiful Demeter is there too.


The Church of Treis Iearkheis across the Plateaki from Yannis's


The center of town, where the Minotaur hides.


A church in the upper part of town. A study in white with geraniums. The light and heat reflecting from the walls at noon is hard to imagine. 


Barbara on the little square above the three chapels. Visions of the snow covered Himalayans.


Stairs and the three chapels.

 Barbara on the stairs to the Kastro (1996), which is entered through a small chapel. An old woman with the key to the chapel took us there in 1976 and formally introduced us to "her" saints on the walls... "avto einai Aghias Ioannis Prodromos, kai avtoi einai Varvara kai kyrios Rolf...."


In 2004 there were again children living in the Khora. A Grade and a High School (Gymnasion) are in the upper part of town.


The domes of the churches in the center of town: Treis Ierarkhes, Zoon Pigi and a third one whose name I don't know.


 The house of Lila Maragou, the Archeologist of Amorgos. The triangle (of the Goddess) and the "Two Horns of Minos" - symbols of Minoan times - can still be found over the entries of many houses and churches in Amorgos. The inverted clay pots as chimneys have also a long tradition in the islands. - I always wanted to meet Lila, but she usually spends late summer and the winter at the University in Athens, and last October (2005) she was digging all day in Arkessini.

"Architecture without Architects" - the title of a never forgotten exhibition at MOCA in the 1960s - A chimney and the dome of "Zoon Pighis"....


Appropriately Agios Georgios in his chapel defends the Kastro from the Infidels Moslems and Papists alike. The entry of the Kastro..

The domes of the churches of the Chora ready to rise to heaven - like balloons. (1982) This picture crossed my path accidentally, we had visted a young Englishman in his "penthouse" room and found the Green Rain Pipe! I have been searching for that house and that roof ever since - in vain.


Modern architecture or very old motif? A lonely arch and a chimney pot....



Once the house of the "Puppenspieler" the puppeteer who made and animated the Karagöz shadow marionetts. It has been renovated since his death, but the "Horns of Minos" and the "Triangle of the Goddess" have survived and are still much in evidence. During the renovation a conch-shell was inserted in the triangle - ! !


The church of Zoon Pigi (Living Spring) and the entrance to the archeological Museum..

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A bougainvillia has strayed into the abstract landscape.

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The eastern escarpment of Amorgos is 300-600 m high and 80 km long a formidable bastion. East of the Chora at its bottom lies the chapel of Aghias Annis. There was and still is a monopati from the overlook near the chora down to this place, but since 1982 they bulldozed a road to Aghias Anna that also serves the "nude" beach and the Moni, which hides behind the second ridge in this picture. A bus runs from Katapola every hour in season.


 Moni Chosoviotissa

 The precipitous eastern coast. The Moni of the Panaghia Chosoviotissa hangs onto the barren east face of Mount Elias, the island mountain. It dates back to 1053, one of the oldest monasteries in Greece.

 Barbara on the foot path to the Moni. Like in Tibet and Bhutan, the body of the bastion is in a cave inside ther mountain. The view fron its cells is stupenous : blue sky, blue sea, and the morning sun.

 A belligerent Father Gerontias, an old monk, and two slovenly young accolytes live there, performing the proscribed rites at the trouvé Byzantine mosaic-image of the Virgin (it was swept up on the shore in the Dark Middle Ages). They serve visitors a kafelaki, a thimble of Greek coffee with lots of sugar and the grounds, a home-made liqueur, and a piece of lokoumi ("Turkish" delight), if they feel like it. They will take you on a tour of the monastery, which is half-hidden indside the mountain. 

There are seven or eight levels inside. The windows are but holes and the main entrance gate is barely high enough for a child. The moni is 300 m above the water and the mountain overhangs it by the same height.


 The entrance. There is a deep cistern buried into the foundations. Guests are received in the parlor behind the curt\sained window on the third floor. And the parapet is the balcony of the chapel.


Climbing higher and higher, from one level to the next, one is finally cast into the blinding light on the highest parapet. It is impossible to show or photograph the merciless light. (1982)


Looking down into the sea from the path to the Moni. (Barbara, 2005)


The Garden of the Monks

The monks' vegetable garden is watered by a spring which runs even in September. Its little-finger thin stream issues from a bamboo tube sticking out from the huge boulder to the right. Barbara reads on the stone table. This place was for many years so special that we didn't tell anyone where it was - only Cornelius knows. By special permission of the Father Gerontias of the Moni, we spent, over the years, many blissful days in this paradise. Unfortunately Father Gerontias is ill with cancer and had to be moved to Paros (2004). Since then the caretakers from the village have brutally cut the lemon and the fig trees that gave shade to the bench and table. The place looks devastated (2005). The reservoir is overgrown with weeds. - but the spring still sings and there are still a few wild bees.

Cornelius taking a cool bath in the reservoir of the monks garden. (1985)


A gust of wind racing across the sea at great speed, raising a "snow-storm" of white spray. The view fom the "reservoir" in the monks' garden.


Nude Beach

Hidden behind a rock-spine northwest of Aghia Anna is the "nude" beach. A pebble beach with incredibly clean water. Stairs and a rough path lead there from Aghia Anna. (Sept 2004)

Barbara at the nude beach (September 2004)

Moni Giorgios Valsamitis

Four kilometers northwest of the Chora hidden in the mountains, off the road to Vroutsi, hides the former convent of Aghios Giorgios Valsamides (Balsam-man). You can walk there high above the sea on the road to Vroutsi. Last, in 2004, we hitched a ride there in an ancient, yellow French 2CV with an interesting local retiree. The white building of the moni can be seen from the road. There is a spring watering the fenced-in oval of the nuns' garden. The path to Katapola (visible in the distance) leaves the garden across the shoulder a little higher than the road. (September 2004)

.Barbara at the moni. When we first "discovered" it, it was in great neglect. An old woman lived there. It was a lonely place, nobody ever came there - except a young Italian, communist architect and his Swiss wife. He worked himself into a great rage against Americans and Germans, when he found out where we came from.... Now the moni has been "renovated" and many foreigners drive by in their rental cars. (2004)

The inside of the church of Aghios Georgios Valsamides, seen in the two lower icons on the iconostasis. This used to be a convent. The last nun died before our time. Now the former bus and Volga-taxi driver takes care of the moni during the day. There is a sacred spring hidden inside the church behind the wall to the right.

A good path (monopati) contours from Valsamides along the hillside to Minoa and from there a new road takes you down to Katapola, here seen in the distance (1:30 - 2:00 hrs)


View of the Chora to the right below Mount Elias from the pass at Minoa.


The Kato Mera at the Southwestern End of Amorgos

The landscape near Kalofani must be very old. It resembles landscapes in northern Spain, the south of France, and around Mesa Verde where people have been settling since milleniae. There are some archeological sites here (Arkesini) but the archeologists have really nothing exciting to show. The Cycladic graveyards where the "idols" could have been found (Dokhathismata) are further north. (click on the image and then once again to enlarge the picture)


The beauty of the southwestern most end of the island is in the view of the entire eastern Cycladic archipelago. Do rent a car and drive down there once. (click on the image and then once again to enlarge the picture)


  Aigiali and the Northeastern tip of the Island

Twice in 1982 and 1985 we tried to walk along the old monopati to Aigiali, a village in the distant north of Amorgos. The path vanished in the thorny macchia and we soon got hopelessly lost. Somewhere we came upon a ghosttown - another Minoan maze, grass growing in its streets, tumbled-down houses exposing their cisterns full of green water, a million of croaking frogs, no one but a single dog who led us to his master, who was just pulling up his pants.... He had crammed his golden sheep into the basement of one of houses. The good man put on his tire-sandals and, jumping from rock to rock, led us back to the road and the Khora....(1982). Now there is a road and a bus to Aigiali and, you can always rent a car.

This shepherd, who was rumored to be a deviant with his sheep, is no more. But on our last visit (2005) we met an even more charming "homeless" on the way to Aigiali. From the Chora the road climbs high into the lonely mountains and there, by the side of the road stood a strange hooded figure carrying a bag with bread and a cheese on a stick over his left shoulder, waving at us. He had long, unkempt gray hair, a matching, wild beard and was dressed in an old, tattered jacket - below which he was bare: beautiful shaped thighs, a pendulous penis dangling between them.... It all happened so suddenlyt, that I could not get my camera out, and maybe in this case the imagination delivers a better picture than any photo could. - King Minos himself ! - We met him once more very close to the Chora. The villagers are well aware of his existence and tolerate him, as I found out a few days later: "O, you have met Saint Gerasimos," laughed a man in Katapola. "He is a deaf-mute. Why should we have him locked up in an institution? He is harmless." Once again it occured to me, that only the Greeks have for millenia considered the deranged sacred creatures. They are the voices of the Gods.


Aigiali from the ferry boat to Athens. Aigiali itself is not as pretty as Katapola. It lies on a large bay with a sand beach - and a big hotel mainly used by German tour groups. However above Aigiali hangs Langada, a charming village, above which lies another of our favorite churches: the Panaghia Epanochori, "The "Mother of God Above-the-Village". Hiking paths lead from there into the mountain wilderness around Aghios Ioannis Theologos, and to Tholaria on the opposite side of Aigiali Bay.

View from the Panaghia Epanochori on Langada and the Bay.


The Café "O Thanos" : Yannis and Demeter

When we returned Yannis and Demeter, his kalipigous daughter, had opened the Café O Thanos. On my request Yannis found a record by Marina Fanatouri and we got involved on a long conversation on Greek music, jewelery making, the Greek Gods, and the lot of the man in the traditional Greek island society: "My wife owns all of this. I am not from here. I am only her companion." Thanos, the year-king, who must die at the spring equinox. - 4000-year-old customs.

Beautiful Demeter - "My name isn't derived from a Christian saint. Demeter, Dimitra in Greek was an old Greek goddess." - examines Barbara's Sufi necklace.

Rolf and Barbara on our last visit 2005

We walked down to Katapola in the late afternoon. The sky was overcast, the light unusual and special (October 2005)


Late light over Katapola Bay


Reflections in the Sea

On a still morning in Katapola in 1976 I took this photograph of a boat in the waters of the harbor. It led to numerous attempts to catch another such reflection elsewhere. None ever came close to this topological miracle, except the following two

The waterfront of Katapola 1996

A foreign sailboat in Katapola 2004

Rakhidi in the evening light (2004)

Church at the entry to Katapola Bay (Sept 2004)


Sunset over Katapola Bay (Oct 2004)

The ride back to Piraeus next day was very rough - and breathtakingly beautiful. (2004)