Greek Islands

May 2017


Greek Islands

Greek Islands ~ Greek island hopping from Rhodes to Crete to Santorini to Naxos and to Mykonos, with short visits to Symi, Paros, and Delos. On Crete I walked the Imbros Gorge viewing numerous wildflowers and no tourists, and also the Samaria Gorge with 100 water crossings and many times more tourists. On Santorini I walked the caldera to fabulous views and then a meal with the caldera view in Oia. Everywhere I enjoyed stupendous food, especially fresh fish and real tomatoes!

Pics Top->Bottom, Left->Right: Church and caldera on Santorini, Paros windmill, 1650 BCE fresco, Naxos Ballet, St. George's Church on Santorini, Frankish Castle on Paros, 1350 BCE sarcophagus painting, Symi harbor.

Greek Islands Map

Greek Islands Map ~ A stupendous 3 weeks of island hopping. My holiday began in early May when I traveled from the States to Rhodes via Athens. While in Rhodes I stayed 4 days at a quaint guest house in Old Town. Besides exploring Rhodes Town, one day I ventured to ancient Lindos, and another day by ferry to Symi. From Rhodes I flew (via Athens) to Chania, and that began 9 days of exploring Crete. Along the way I walked 2 gorges: The Imbros Gorge with a pleathora of wildflowers and nearly no other tourists, and the Samariá Gorge with about 100 water crossings and many times more tourists. I visited the archeological sites of Knossos (too much fake restoration, too many tourists) and Phaestos (most excellent, few tourists). From Herakalion, Crete, I boarded a ferry to Santorini. I spent 2 days on the island with its breath-taking views, but sadly also a place with too many cruise ships. On the day of my arrival in late afternoon (as the cruise ships were thankfully departing) I walked the cliffs from Thira to Oia enjoying panoramic views of the island's caldera and its stunning bright white painted architecture. Then by ferry to wonderful, relaxed, and lightly touristed Naxos for 3 days. One of those days I joined a fine day long island tour, while on another day I explored the nearby island of Paros. Then by ferry to Mykonos for 2 days. While there I explored the ancient city of Delos via a short ferry ride to that nearby island. So after 3 fine weeks of Greek island hopping and nearly everywhere enjoying stupendous Greek cuisine I traveled to Northern Greece to join a land tour with a group from OAT.

Symi Harbor

Symi Harbor ~ From Rhodes I traveled by ferry for a day on the nearby island of Symi. Its inviting harbor is horseshoe shaped with lovely buildings rising up from all sides on the nearby hills.

Manna of the Greek Islands

Manna of the Greek Islands ~ Both a lovely emblem on a local Symi house and an appropriate symbol of vitality of the sea. While exploring the Greek islands I enjoyed countless superb fresh seafood meals.

Weathered Symi

Weathered Symi ~ Not all on Symi was prim, but this weathered window added to the island's charm.

Doric Temple of Athena

Doric Temple of Athena ~ A short bus ride from Rhodes Town is Lindos and the archaeological site of the Lindos Acropolis. Some ruins of the Acropolis date back to the 10th century BCE. This Doric Temple of Athena dates from about 300 BC and was built on the site of an earlier temple. Reference Wikipedia

Church of St. John

Church of St. John ~ The Greek Orthodox Church of St. John at Lindos on the Greek island of Rhodes dates from the 13th or 14th century and was built on the ruins of a previous church, which may have been built as early as the 6th century. Reference Wikipedia


Silenus ~ In Greek mythology, Silenus was a companion and tutor to the wine god Dionysus. He is now honored as being the god of wine and drunkenness!

Roman Emperor Hadrian

Roman Emperor Hadrian ~ Hadrian was Roman emperor from 117 to 138. He is known for building Hadrian's Wall which marked the northern limit of Britannia, and is now a World Heritage Site and a 84 mile walk across northern England. He also rebuilt the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. He is regarded as the third of the Five Good Emperors. Reference Wikipedia

Poseidon Helps Amymone

Poseidon Helps Amymone ~ 3rd century mosaic displayed at the Archaeological Museum of Chania, Crete.

Anagnostis Mantakas

Anagnostis Mantakas ~ In 1913 two elder freedom fighters, Anagnostis Mantakas and Chatzimichalis Giannaris, raised the Greek flag of unification at the Firka Fortress of Chania, Crete. The fortress was constructed in 1629 in Chania to protect the Venetian harbor entrance from raiders. "Firka" in Turkish means a military division, and the building was used as the barracks of the Turkish army in Chania.

Cathedral of the Virgin Mary

Cathedral of the Virgin Mary ~ Also know as The Panagia Trimartiri, it is considered as the protector of the city of Chania. The central aisle is dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, the northern aisle to St. Nicholas and the southern aisle to the Three Cappadocian Fathers. The church is built on the site of an earlier church from the 14th century. Reference

Chania Lighthouse

Chania Lighthouse ~ The original Venetian lighthouse at Chania, Crete, was built in the late 16th century to protect the harbor. A chain could be connected from the base of the lighthouse westward to the fortress of Firkas so as to close the harbor. During the Turkish occupation the lighthouse fell into disrepair and was eventually rebuilt (between 1824 and 1832) in the form of a minaret. The modern lighthouse is often referred to as Egyptian because it was built during a time when Crete was occupied by Egyptian troops who were supporting the weakening Ottoman Empire against rebellious Cretans. Reference

Angel and Bird

Angel and Bird ~ Displayed at the Municipal Art Gallery of Chania, it is an artwork by Giannis Gaitis.

Imbros Gorge

Imbros Gorge is a 7 mile long canyon whose terminus is located about 5 miles from Hóra Sfakíon in southern Crete. It runs parallel to the more famous Samariá Gorge and it ends at the village of Kommitádes. The Imbros village is located at an altitude of 2560 feet and starts at the southern end of the fertile plain of Askyfou. The gorge displays a plethora of colorful wildflowers. Reference Wikipedia


Sheep -- In addition to a fine walk through the Imbros Gorge, these shaggy sheep can be seen.

Red Poppy

Red Poppy ~ These beautiful flowers were prolific throughout the Imbros Gorge during the month of May.

Dracunculus vulgaris

Dracunculus vulgaris ~ Tall and exotic, this flower proudly displayed itself in the Imbros Gorge during the month of May.

Campanula tubulosa

Campanula tubulosa ~ My walk through the Imbros Gorge in May was a delight in wild flowers.

Rimondi Fountain

Rimondi Fountain is located at the north end of Petychaki square in the center of old town Rethymnon, Crete. The current fountain stands on the site of an older fountain believed to have existed since at least 1588. The Venetian governor J. Rimondi started the reconstruction of the current fountain in 1626.

Agios Theodoros Church

Agios Theodoros Church is located within the ancient compound of Fortezza in the town of Rethymno, Crete. It was built in 1899 by the Russian Governor of Rethymnon, Theodore de Hiostak, during the period of the Cretan State (1898-1913). Source

Samariá Gorge Walk

Samariá Gorge Walk ~ At 10 miles, the Samariá Gorge is one of the longest gorges in Europe. As a walk it provides stunning views, it drops 4100 feet, and it ends at the Libyan Sea in Agia Roumeli. There are nearly 100 water crossings and many times more walkers. Although enjoyable, I preferred the nearby Imbros Gorge with its many wildflowers and very few walkers. These narrows are located near milepost 8.3.

Waterfall along Samariá Gorge

Waterfall along Samariá Gorge ~ The first few miles of the gorge are steep along a narrow, rocky stepped trail. I found walking this section tedious, not because of the terrain, but because of the overly peopled track. Thankfully the crowd spread out after the first 1-1/2 miles when the steepness of the track lessened. At milepost 3.6 was this waterfall.

Fountain of Samariá Gorge

Fountain of Samariá Gorge ~ There were numerous fountains along the track, this one was near milepost 3.4.

Agios Nikolaos Church

Agios Nikolaos Church ~ This small church is one of several along the path of the Samariá Gorge. It is located nearby milepost 2.8.

Minoan Rhyton as a Bull

Minoan Rhyton as a Bull ~ Displayed at the Archaeological Museum in Herakalion, Crete, it was discovered at the Knossos-Little Palace. Circa 1400 BCE.

Sarcophagus Painting

Sarcophagus Painting ~ This photo is a snippet of the Hagia Triada sarcophagus depicting a lyra and pouring libations into a bucket. The Hagia Triada sarcophagus is late Bronze Age made of limestone. It was originally dated to 1400 BCE and was discovered in Hagia Triada on Crete in 1903. It provides probably the most comprehensive iconography of a pre-Homeric thysiastikis ceremony and one of the best pieces of information on noble burial customs when Crete was under Mycenaean rule, combining features of Minoan and Mycenaean style and subject matter. The sarcophagus is on display in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Reference Wikipedia

Grave Stele

Grave Stele ~ From the 4th - 3rd century BCE, displayed at the Archaeological Museum at Heraklion, Crete.

Forminx Strumento Musicale Player

Phorminx Strumento Musicale Player ~ 8th century BCE clay figurine, displayed at the Archaeological Museum in Herakalion, Crete. The phorminx was one of the oldest of the Ancient Greek stringed instruments, intermediate between the lyre and the kithara. It consisted of two to seven strings, a crescent-shaped sound box, and most probably originated from Mesopotamia. Reference Wikipedia

Farmer's Market

Farmer's Market of Herakalion, Crete. Yummy, yummy!


Acrobats ~ A sculpture near the Heraklion waterfront in Crete.

Ekklisia Profitis Ilias

Ekklisia Profitis Ilias ~ In mid afternoon after arriving by ferry to Santorini I walked the cliff trail from Thira to Oia, a distance of about 7 miles. Along the way were numerous churches. This one, located on Goggle Maps, is about halfway along the walk.

Church of Panagia

Church of Panagia ~ One of very many modest churches along the cliff of Santorini. This one, located on Goggle Maps, is about 1-1/2 mile east of Oia on the cliff walking path. What is notable of this church is its majestic monument overlooking the caldera.

Monument at Church of Panagia

Monument at Church of Panagia ~ A beautiful monument overlooking the Santorini caldera near Oia.

Caldera View

Caldera View ~ In the distance are numerous cruise ships which unload thousands of tourists for a day visit on Santorini near Thira. Thankfully in late afternoon these ships set out for their next destination, thus leaving this beautiful island a bit more peaceful. Personally, I would rather voyage in this small craft in the foreground rather than the monster ships at sea in the background. ... One person's opinion!

Oia Churches

Oia Churches ~ In the background is Saint George Church, while the building in the foreground is unknown but is believed to be another Greek church. Both are located in Oia.

Ekklisia Isodia Theotokou

Ekklisia Isodia Theotokou, translated from Greek as the Church of the Virgin Mary. It overlooks the caldera of Santorini from Oia.

1650 BCE Fresco

1650 BCE Fresco ~ Recently discovered in about 1970, the Fisherman fresco is an important work of the Aegean prehistoric time of great painting. It was found on Santorini island, and is on display at the Museum of Prehistoric Thira.

Naxos at Night

Naxos at Night ~ The harbor area was a place of fun, many restaurants, and several ice cream parlors. I stayed at the delightful Hotel Coronis, top floor, with this view overlooking the harbor.

Portara of Naxos

Portara of Naxos (aka Temple of Apollo) ~ Construction began, but was never completed, by the tyrant Lygdamis who ruled Naxos from 545 to 524 BCE. Later, in Byazntine time, the temple served as a quarry, and its marble has been identified in churches in Naxos Town, as well as in the Venetian Castro on the Acropolis. Reference

Naxos White Marble

Naxos White Marble ~ Prominently standing at the gateway to the Naxos Portara, is this modern day statue made of Naxos white marble. It seems only symbolic that this unfinished nude is a juxtaposition to the unfinished Portara of past centuries.

Ballet of Naxos

Ballet of Naxos ~ According to local Naxos culture, music and dance is more of a way of life to express their thoughts, their happiness and sorrows. That helps explain the local ballet school. How nice!

Panaya Ekatontapiliani

Panaya Ekatontapiliani ~ Also known as the Church of 100 Doors, it is a historic Byzantine church complex in Parikia town, on the island of Paros. The origin of the church's name is obscure, as it does not have one hundred doors, or gates. The church dates to 326. Its oldest features likely predate the adoption of Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire in 391. The church was purportedly founded by the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (ruled 306-337), Saint Helen, during her pilgrimage to the Holy Land when she stopped to worship at a chapel on the island. Reference Wikipedia

Panaya Ekatontapiliani Compound Wall

Panaya Ekatontapiliani Compound Wall ~ The church, also know as the Church of 100 doors (see previous slide), is enclosed in a large compound with traditional white walls. This is a partial view of that wall from outside the compound.

Frankish Castle

Frankish Castle, on the island of Paros, was built in the 1200s by the Venetians who had then occupied Paros. It was constructed from the vestiges of an assortment of ancient sanctuaries that were scattered in and around the island. This picture is a snippet of a castle wall.

Traditional Cyclades Windmill

Traditional Cyclades Windmills characterize the Greek islands, and this one is from the island of Paros. In the 19th century windmills were of vital importance since by using the power of the wind one could grind wheat into flour. They fell into disuse by the mid 20th century. Reference

Temple of Isis

Temple of Isis ~ Delos was one of the most sacred places of ancient Greece, and was a robust trade center during the Mycenaean period (1580-1200 BCE) although habitation dates back to 3000 BCE. The island owed its success to its superb location at the center of the Aegean. This Temple of Isis is located in the Sanctuary of the Egyptian gods on Delos. Reference