Discover Kythera on the trails. Kythera is a mountainous island that offers some beautiful walks. Between all these mountains, valleys and mountainsides there is a whole network of tracks and trails. In the past, when there were no automobiles and people were working in the field, trails were used to cut distances and time. Those trails still exist today, some of which are well hidden underneath Kythera’s vegetation.
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Discover now three trails here:
Μ1: The Capital and its Port
Chora – Kapsali – Chora
“Being one of the most important trails of Kythera, it connects Chora, the capital of the island, with its seaport, Kapsali. The route starts from the central square of the village, descending through the main alley passing by old mansions and listed monuments, such as Markato, the old municipal market, and the metropolitan church of Estavromenos.
At the fork which leads to the imposing Castle of Chora, which is also known as “the eye of Crete”, the path starts descending from the church of Agioi Pantes. The western side of the castle has a view of the southern seascapes: the cape of Trachilas and Chytra, the gigantic rock in the middle of the sea. In spring, the slope seems to be in flames, due to the deep red color of “galatsides”, the bushes which take up this colour after flowering. The downhill footpath leads to the impressive cave church of Agios Pavlos, right above the small bay of the same name. You should have the keys, in case you want to visit the chapel.
Μ41: Valley of the Watermills
Mylopotamos – Kato Chora – Mylopotamos
It is said that the word Kythera possibly comes from the ancient Greek verb “keftho” which means “to conceal hidden secrets”. This mesmerizing route unravels a hidden world of waterfalls, natural pools, huge plane trees, maple trees, stone bridges, watermills and chapels, which hardly evokes insular landscapes. Hiking starts from the center of the area, in Agios Sostis, an archetype of a Greek village with the square, the “kafeneio” (traditional coffeehouse), the plane tree, the churches and Kamari, the largest public lavoir of Kythera. In a short distance, an impressive cobblestone trail “dives” in the magical ravine passing through the first watermills to reach the famous waterfall of Fonissa, which gives a first glimpse of what is about to come. The ravine of Mylopotamos is an open-air museum of pre-industrial society and traditional water management. The trail passes through inimitable complexes of watermills, houses and bridges which are fully integrated with the plane trees and the waterfalls. Locals used the scarce water of the ravine in an optimal way by operating the 23 watermills for grinding wheat, barley and other cereals. In the past, that was the beating heart of the island, as locals from all corners of Kythera came here to make flour. Since the trails were long and difficult with the loaded mules, the “clients” often stayed overnight in specific rooms inside the mills. The watermill of Filippis is the only one fully restored, visitable and operational. A unique sight in Greece is a slope where four watermills are built amphitheatrically, one above the other, being supplied directly by the same water channel. The trail passes under one of them with a built curved archway. A little further, the old stone bridges still stand, which offer an easy access to the watermills. The four waterfalls of this trail are ideal for a cool break in magical landscapes.
M31: Pirate Invasion
Potamos – Paliochora – Potamos
In September 1537, a devastating event marked Kythera forever. The fabled capital of the island, Agios Dimitrios, which is also known as Paliochora, was besieged and looted by the admiral of the ottoman fleet, the corsair Hayreddin Barbarossa. The surviving inhabitants were sold as slaves at the slave markets of Algiers and Tunis. Ever since, Paliochora is abandoned and, according to locals, it is still haunted as the “fousata”, the pirates’ shadows, patrol the area and the women’s cries echo from the time of the disaster. Today, the ruined citadel still stands in a unique location, between sheer gorges, well-hidden by the surrounding hills.