Iraklia’s picturesque town has a typical Cycladic atmosphere, with cobbled labyrinthine streets and white cube-like houses with blue shutters and flower-filled courtyards. One unusual architectural feature is the clay pots at the top of the chimneys. Time passes differently here, where the traditional way of life is still very much alive, as you will see for yourself if you choose one of the ferry tickets to Iraklia.
Perhaps the island’s most stunning natural attraction, which stands out for its spectacular 100-metre-high cliffs and twin pebble beaches. Rare species of birds such as wild pigeons and vultures nest in caves in the cliffs, making this an ideal bird-watching destination.
With its tall square towers, this imposing defensive fortress from the Hellenistic period makes an impression even today. Come and admire the splendid ruins of ancient dwellings and the two temples dedicated to Zeus and Tyche, the goddess of fortune. Before you leave, stop to enjoy the enchanting view of Mourtos Bay.
The Cave of John the Baptist
This is the largest cave in the Cyclades and among the most magnificent geological sites in the Aegean. Visitors are treated to the fantastic spectacle of stalagmites, stalactites and naturally-formed columns, as well as a small lake, while there are wonderful sea views from outside. On 28th August, which is John the Baptist’s feast day, a candlelight service is held in the cave in the presence of hundreds of pilgrims, a highly atmospheric experience that is well-worth the 45-minute hike from Panagia.
Scattered between the port of Saint George and the village of Saint Athanasius are several rocks bearing carved spiral designs, which have long intrigued experts and non-experts alike. Are they compasses or signposts made by the inhabitants of the island in antiquity, records of astronomical knowledge left by ancient Cycladic civilisations, or marks made by pirates? The mystery remains unsolved, but even as curious works of art, they hold a fascination both for visitors and locals.