If you choose one of the ferry tickets to Anafi, you’ll have the opportunity to explore perhaps the loveliest capital in the Aegean, situated on the side of a hill below a Venetian castle. Its appearance is quintessentially Cycladic, with winding cobbled lanes and stone houses with vaulted roofs, whitewashed courtyards, and brightly coloured bougainvillea, as well as its picturesque Byzantine chapels and beautiful windmills. It has unhindered views of the Cretan Sea.
This enormous limestone rock at the eastern end of the island is the second largest monolith in the Mediterranean, after Gibraltar. With its steep cliff-face and a peak that is 460 metres above sea level, it represents an exciting challenge to experienced climbers. Together with the rocky islets of Ftena, Makria and Pachia, it has been designated a Natura 2000 protected area. Kalamos is joined to Anafi by a short isthmus and is a breathtaking sight, particularly for anyone encountering it for the first time. In 1700, the French traveller Tournefort called it “one of the most fearsome rocks in the world”.
The Monastery of the Virgin Mary Kalamiotissa
Standing on the highest peak of Kalamos, this elegant white-domed single-aisle church, which dates from the 18th-century, offers unparalleled views of the Aegean. According to legend, it was built after an icon of the Virgin Mary was found hanging on a reed. It is the island’s most important religious monument.
The splendid ruins of the acropolis of ancient Anafi, founded by the Dorians between the 8th and 7th century BC, are located at the top of a 327-metre-high hill. Visitors can admire parts of an enormous wall, the impressive tombs in the ancient necropolis, and Roman grave monuments.
The Archaeological Collection
The finds from local excavations housed in this small building in Anafi Town include Roman statues and sculptures from Kasteli.
This striking geological formation is situated on the north side of Kalamos. The entrance is 10 metres high, while there are columns, pools and stalactites inside. The walk to get here is not easy, but it is rewarding.
The island’s trails
Anafi is a magnet for hikers, with an 18-km network of paths, some of them following routes that have existed since ancient times. It is worth walking the legendary Sacred Way, which joined Kasteli with the Temple of Apollo, or the path between the Monastery of the Life-giving Fount and the Monastery of Kalamiotissa on Kalamos.
The Monastery of the Life-giving Fount
Built on the isthmus that joins Anafi with Kalamos, on the site of the Temple of Apollo, this historic monastery is among the most important places of pilgrimage in the Cyclades. Masonry from the columns and walls of the temple was used in the construction of its courtyard.