There are two ports on Amorgos; Katapola, the main one and the smaller and more attractive harbour of Aegiali or Egiali. It is in Aegiali where we are based and where the recommended Hotel and pensions are. The highest mountain on the island, Krikelos (821m; 2,684ft) is at this end of the island. Also in Aegialis is the longest beach on Amorgos and many smaller quiet coves.
Amorgos is the most easterly island in the Cyclades in the beautiful Aegean Sea. It is just 30 km and in view of the capital of the Cyclades, Naxos. Amorgos is very unspoiled by tourism because of its remote location and lack of an airport.
If you join us on hiking tours around the island or follow our guide book you will see places most people never get to visit. Hear or read about the history and culture. Appreciate the countryside walking in the mountains. Learn about the botany, herbs and their uses, the wild life, and meet some of the colourful local characters.
Alternatively just come here to enjoy the island, the sand, sea, sun and wonderful food. We will be here to look after your every needs and advise on places to go.
Clients may, at their leisure, on a pro rata basis, take a few of the trekking tours if they wish.
Many fascinating sites exist on Amorgos for the visitor to see, however most of them involve walking, or going by donkey, so most people miss the real gems. The most famous sight is the Monastery of Hozoviotissa, which dramatically hangs 180m up on a cliff which drops spectacularly straight down into the sea. It has 50 rooms most of which are only 6 feet wide and the library contains 98 hand written manuscripts. Also on display there, is the most precious icon on the island, that of the Madonna. It comes from Constantinople.
There is another monastery on the island, called Theologos (pictured right), but few people actually visit this 4th century church as it is off the beaten track. It is older and in a way more attractive than the more famous one. They have two festivals a year here that many of the local people from Aegiali try to attend. Last year we took our clients who took part in the festivities and listened to the service.
There are three ancient 5th century BC cities on the island, again very few people get to them as they are remote. We visit all three on our programme. They are Akro Kastri at the West end of the island, Minoa above Katapola, and Vigla just above Aegiali. In Minoa, particularly, many of the remains can be seen clearly. In remote farms and chapels that we visit on our tours 'recycled' stone from these ancient ruins can be observed used as door lintels and corner stones.
We visit little churches way up in the mountains that, unbeknown to other visitors to the island, contain many rare and interesting features. We take our clients to a hidden cove down a secret path where a British commando vessel hid out during WWII.
The places to see are endless but we arrange our programme so that you see a cross section of most things. By the end of your holiday you will have marvelled at most of the island, its ruins, churches, villages, cliffs, geological wonders, flora and fauna.
Hopefully you will also have had plenty of time to relax and perhaps see a little of the under water life on Amorgos. The water is so clear and blue that Luc Besson filmed his famous 1988 underwater movie, 'The big Blue’, here.
Many of our clients enjoy watching the islanders go about their every day life using farming and fishing techniques that have not changed for hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of years. If you have a particular interest, our programme can be tailored towards your needs. Although you will have booked for a particular programme you can always join a different group one day and try your hand at painting, cooking or ornithology for example (subject to group numbers). Also for the walkers we always offer a saunter as well as a route march each day.
The island of Amorgos is steeped in history dating back to the Neolithic period (4,500 – 3,000 BC) and by the Early Cycladic Period (3,000 - 2,000 BC) was flourishing and an important centre with many contacts including Troy and Crete. In the 10th – 8th centuries BC settlers from Naxos built Arkesini, and in the 7th century BC settlers from Samos settled on Minoa, ands from Miletus on Vigla. The Archaic Period (7 – 6th Centuries BC) saw the development of the three ‘city states’, and widening contact with Samos and Paros. The Classical Period (5 – 4th centuries BC) saw increasing domination from first Athens, and then Alexander the Great, when the three cities flourished and minted their own coinage on Nikuria.
The Byzantine era (AD 324 – 1207) was one of many raids by Goths, vandals, Arabs and Venetians. The pirates not only raided but also settled in some ports, including Katapola and used them as bases. Towers, old and new, were used as defence points and hiding places. Friendly relations were fostered with pirates and Amorgos became prosperous and thickly populated. Amorgos also became a place of exile for Byzantine officers, including General Vroutis, after whom the village of Vroutsi is named.
The Venetian Occupation (1207 – 1537) saw the island becoming a dependency of Naxos when seized by Geronimo and Andrea Gizi. The Chora was fortified with the keep being built on top of the rock. By the 14th century Moslem raids had caused the almost abandonment of the island; men had been kidnapped to crew pirate ships; children had been abducted as slaves.
Amorgos was captured by the Ottomans lead by Barbarossa in 1537 and this started the Ottoman occupation which lasted until Greece was finally free in 1824. While Amorgos enjoyed the benefits of religious freedom enabling them to repair and build churches piracy still remained their greatest danger. Amorgos became an important centre and became economically dependant on the pirates for business. One positive advantage was that many Greeks learnt how to fight at sea and piracy encouraged the growth of Greek seamanship. Many young men from Amorgos fought in the Greek War of Independence of 1821.
Independence saw improved conditions for the islanders and an expansion of agriculture. Amorgos was self-sufficient and exported many products including wine, olive oil, cotton, silk, timber and tobacco. A regular, weekly steamship service transported coal, pottery, animals as well as people around the Small Cyclades.
The Second World War saw Amorgos occupied by Italian soldiers from Rhodes on May 2nd 1941. Many young men escaped to Egypt and fought in the Greek army and navy. Those left behind suffered acute shortages as much of their produce was commandeered despite managing to hide food. Caiques from Amorgos were sometimes able to take supplies to relatives in Athens and bring back news of loved ones. However in the autumn of 1943, German soldiers from Naxos replaced the Italian soldiers and the islanders were forbidden to take any boats out of harbour, even to fish. Some people died of starvation that winter and the locals say that many more would have died if they hadn’t had supplies of olive oil.
The post war period saw little improvement and severe shortages prevailed. Many young people left the island and did not return. Many buildings, including the schools were in a parlous state. The island was without a doctor until 1954. On 9th July 1956 Amorgos suffered a severe earthquake; 7.5 on the Richter scale. This prodded the government into action; cement was provided to repair the schools, a shipping service was re-established, electricity and piped water was provided in Chora, the quay was built in Katapola and the road connecting Katapola and Chora was built.
In more modern times, 1982 saw the building of the quay in Aegiali and the arrival of electricity there. The main roads were started in 1983 and finally completed in 1998!
In the census of 1991 the population of Amorgos was 1,500 in the census of 2001 it had risen to 1,800. In the 1800s it was at it’s relatively recent peak of 5,000.