1. One of the most picturesque Chora’s in the Aegean

Chora min

The Venetian Castle built by Giovanni Querini in 1413 and the traditional windmills standing stoically in a row, make a gorgeous backdrop to your Astypalean holiday pictures, and memory.

Astypalea’s Chora confidently holds a top spot in the Greek islands Chora ranking (if there was such a thing), as not only is a sight to behold but has many sites to discover, such as the ancient infant cemetery at Kylindra area, the Church of Lady Portaitissa and the Ecclesiastical Museum and of course, the traditional windmills.

Start your day tastefully having the award-winning “Grandma’s Breakfast” at Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel before you’re out an about snapping Instagram worthy material!

2. The endless Aegean blue and the beautiful beaches

Beaches min

You might say, that any Greek island in the Aegean offers the winning combination of the bluest of sea and a beautiful beach, however Astypalea truly is like no other.

The island has a beach for every taste and type; sandy, pebble, cliff, rock – you name it, with a view to die for, and crystal waters to dip into.

Don’t believe us? Take a small peek on Astypalea, and make sure to request and use Kallichoron’s Art boutique local guide when you visit.

3. Greek “Philoxenia” at its best

Hospitality min

 

When it comes to friendliness and Greek hospitality, you will hardly experience anything like the Astypalean welcome. The locals are of the kindest and most inviting folk you’re to encounter in your travels.

Accept the Good mornings, and hellos and invitations to share food and drink, as it might also mean the start of great friendships. Kallichoron’s own has a most wonderful story as example.

4. Delicious, fresh produce local cuisine & saffron

Cuisine min

Build an appetite before setting a foot on Astypalea, as the local cuisine is quite something.

Expect the, very well made, Greek classics but make sure you try dishes such as the lobster spaghetti and the local cheese, olives, the best French fries you ever had, stuffed vine leaves, locally made liquors and house wine.

Saffron is also an Astypalean staple – the indulgent spice grows in the island and its colour and particular flavor is found in many dishes and the typical Astypalean ‘kitrinokouloura’.

Delicious, fresh and all locally sourced produce; be prepared to put on a couple of pounds as Astypaleans know and make good food.

Remember to try Frappé: iced coffee made the Greek way. Another summer classic!

5. “Panigyria” - local religious celebrations

Panigiria min

Imagine a joyous, happy gathering of a village and then some! Greek ‘’Panigyria” are truly unique events to witness, plentiful in traditional music, singing and dancing till early morning hours. Often accompanied by delicious food and drink, Astypalea is no different and holds many of such nights, most during summer.

Read about the local festivities, and do ask for additional information if you would like to plan your visit around those times.

6. Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel

Breakfast

A chance to see the most fascinating sunrise from your bedroom, and the award-winning Astypalean “Grandma’s Breakfast” served in your room based on your selection, each morning.

Be at a stylish, elegant and comfortable environment that follows environmental and social responsible practices, Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel focuses on offering its guests the most wonderful of stays.

The friendly staff, the relaxing wellness sessions, the tasty breakfast and the best view of the picturesque settlement of Chora makes Kallichoron the final reason to visit Astypalea!

Astypalea1 min   Astypalea2 min

Astypalea3 min

5 small changes you can make to help the environment whilst travelling

What does it mean to travel green? How can you reduce the environmental impact of your holiday? Travelling takes up a lot of resources and frequently has a significant impact on local communities and natural habitats. Travelling green is all about challenging our habits and being conscious of the impact our choices have on the environment. The tips below are not particularly different to small changes we can make in our daily lives as well!

At Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel we care deeply about the people and the environment in which we live in. Being a Green Key eco-labelled hotel, we have launched our Kallichoron Goes Green Policy to achieve perfect operation regimes that work in harmony with the environment.

Here are five tips to keep in mind when it comes to travelling green in Astypalea and visiting our hotel.

1. Eat Locally, Buy Locally

Buying local products not only promotes the local economy but it is likely that they’re made organically. Additionally, buying directly from production – like local farms, can mean that less packaging is used than purchasing from a grocery store.
Make the choice to eat fruits and veggies that are in season as it will not only be easier, but most importantly tastier! Part of encouraging local eating is supporting restaurants that serve locally grown food as well. The locals can use this money to make their community an even better and greener travel destination. Let’s make local food a big part of our daily diet!

Grandma

2. Green Transportation & Low Carbon Activities

The “greenest” form of transportation is human power, i.e. walking or cycling and ultimately a great way to get some more exercise in as well. Try to walk or cycle as often as possible to help keep cars off the road. It’s no secret that activities such as swimming, hiking, snorkeling, trekking are also some options to embrace and discover the local natural wonders while keeping the air free from emissions and pollutants.
Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel is a bike-friendly hotel and we can arrange for a cycling tour around the island. Get in touch with Reception and hire a bike today!

Bike Friendly

3. Reduce Water & Energy Consumption

Greece is characterized by strong seasonal distributions of rainfall, which may result to water shortage at the height of the summer. Therefore, it is essential to turn off the taps and don’t run water when it is not necessary to avoid wasting it.
Reusing towels and linens not only reserves water, but saves energy as less washing and drying is required. Here at Kallichoron, you room key will turn the lights and air-conditioning off automatically when you exit the room.

4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

A proverb for travelling says “Take nothing but pictures, leave only footprints”. Of course, the use of products in unavoidable but the best way to keep Astypalea clean is to reuse and recycle where possible. And for a cleaner planet, we need to beat plastic pollution.
This year, Kallichoron goes greener! In an effort to reduce the use of plastic, the plastic straws have been replaced with paper ones to help save the sea and animals. Additionally, Grandma’s Breakfast allows guests to customise their breakfast options, a practice that offers guests the best quality and at the same time reduced food waste. Notably, Kallichoron is the only hotel in Greece that has been awarded for its breakfast service. Earth loves us and we do too!

Paper Straw

5. Bring your own bag

Plastic bags remain a big problem not only for us and the environment, but for the animals and wildlife as well. Although it might seem convenient to grab a plastic bag at the cash register, the habit is actually pretty wasteful. In an effort to break that habit, Kallichoron launched its own cotton tote bag - way trendier than the plastic stuff anyway!

Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel – Choose the Green, eco-labelled hotel for Your Stay!

After experiencing the beauty of Astypalea, there is no better way to show gratitude than to spread the word. Share your experience on social media and let your friends know how much you enjoyed your time with us and leave an inspiring testimony for travellers that are thinking of visiting Astypalea. Look for places that implement green practices and are committed to run sustainably and offer high quality services to travellers. We feel empowered after such amazing journey and aim to do more!

 

A Norwegian proverb says that only one who wanders discovers new paths. The destination is not a place, but the perspective and new way of seeing things. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.

Exquisite beaches, crystal clear waters, warm and friendly people, authentic local tastes of the Butterfly of the Aegean Sea.

Exploring Astypalea Island through the eyes of our guest, Natalia Teteri.
Summer 2017.

For me, Astypalea was a place unexplored, an island that I always wanted to visit but for some strange reason I postponed for years. I had heard so much about Chora, the beaches, the scenery, the good food and especially its people. Maybe the right time had not yet come, possibly I had to "feel" the island first to return. But not alone - along with my students.

And so it happened! It was like a call for me to give something back to this place. Something special, something new. So I decided to organize a yoga-retreat, beginning in early (05-10) September 2018.

The key was to visit Astypalea, to experience it so that I would be able to bring as much information and feelings to the participants as possible. So, my family and I spent our Easter holidays on the island, enjoying a much needed and unforgettable experience of tradition, hospitality and relaxation.

The island combines alternative and classy tourism: On the one hand, you feel the imposing Venetian Castle and, on the other, the Cycladic white’s magic in complete harmony with the Dodecanese element. I honestly was in awe when, during the first morning of our stay, from the balcony of Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel, I saw Chora - one of the most beautiful towns on a Greek island - with the seven windmills leading us to its cobbled streets. And within all the beauty, tasting the award-winning Kallichoron’s Grandma's Breakfast. With the possibility to order through a mobile app and enjoy on your balcony whatever you wish amongst many fresh and handpicked local produce.

The water surrounding Astypalea is crystal clear and there are many beaches. The aim is to organize a day trip on a tourist boat to the islands of Kounoupa and Koutsomitis, enjoy the sea and exercise yoga during sunset.

Yoga in Astypalea

The big surprise, during this retreat, is that I am preparing to set up a huge outdoor yoga room, especially for us, under the Venetian Castle, overlooking the endless blue of the Aegean. We will be devoting two hours of exercise every day (in the morning and in the afternoon) while the rest of the day we will be exploring the island and, above all, we will be able to relax our minds and spirits in a unique environment, in the "Butterfly of the Aegean", as it is called, because of its shape. Clearly we will not miss the fun, as we will have the opportunity to attend a local festival in honor of Virgin Mary on 8th September.

I am looking forward to this trip, and those who will follow me will have the opportunity to experience Astypalea through my eyes and love for it!

Fotini Bitrou

Yoga in Astypalea

Fotini comes from the island of Aegina and operates Kouros Studio. She is a certified Yoga Alliance RYT-200 teacher and a Gymnastics Academy graduate (Athens School of Physical Education and Sport Science). She was a national champion in the 800m and 1500m track running. You can find Fotini’s CV HERE.

For more information and reservations for the Yoga Retreat in Astypalea 5-10 September 2018, click HERE.

As an artist best known for colourful paintings of foreign landscapes, part of my work schedule is travelling somewhere new every year to sketch and take photographs for source material. In the 1980s and 1990s, my wife and I went to many different Greek islands. We decided to visit Astypalea in 1994 despite the long and fairly arduous journey from Scotland.

By the time the final ferry reached Astypalea, there were only three couples from the UK left on board, and we are still in touch with each other. On one occasion we were in Livadi, wandering along the back roads. I can’t recall quite how it happened but we were invited into a farm where the family was absolutely delightful. They plied us with fresh apricots, melon, all manner of sweet treats and coffee. Grandmother was lovely but the person who made the strongest impression on us was her little granddaughter who spoke English quite well and did all the translating. We had a really pleasant time, thanked them and left.

My friend Winston and I thought they were so nice and their hospitality so warm that we would return with some presents to show our appreciation. It may have been a couple of days later but back we went and were once again welcomed with open arms. Maria did the translating as before and, just as we were about to leave, tugged on my shirt and asked if she might write to me to improve her English. How could I refuse this request from such an earnest little girl? Maria was only about eight or nine at the time but already her intelligence and determination were clear to see, in her eyes and in her ability to communicate.

Jamieson 1

We exchanged addresses and our letters began and went back and forth. All through the years I was aware that Maria wished to better herself. Indeed writing to me in English was part of that process. She wanted to learn and would go from challenge to challenge. I was aware that my letters would be translated for the whole family and made sure to wish Maria’s family well in each one.

I fully expected that in Maria’s teenage years the letters would stop, but her serious side, her desire to learn and her determination meant that our letters continued and so nearly twenty years passed. Along came the digital revolution and with it, emails and Facebook. I watched with interest as my young friend’s working life became one in which she was making great strides and success came her way.

In 2014 Maria told me that she was buying a building in Astypalea to set up the Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel. What, I thought, can I do to help celebrate this momentous event? I remembered I had done a painting of an older man on a donkey in Astypalea. The original transparency had been lost by a gallery but I made a card from a small digital file and sent it. A few days later Maria sent an email saying that her mother and grandmother were in tears because this was a painting of Maria's late grandfather. What an extraordinary coincidence! Did I still have the original painting? Unfortunately no, but a framed print now hangs proudly in the reception area of Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel.

Painting min

This year my wife and I decided to visit Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel, especially as Astypalea now has a small airport and travelling there is relatively easy. Imagine my surprise when Maria's mother and father met us at the airport. One afternoon we were also invited back to the farm and met Grandma once again after twenty-four years.

Who could have guessed that our friendship would one day make such a good story? I treasure my friendship with Maria, and now my wife and I are friends with her business partner Carolina as well. Long may our friendships continue and long may Maria go from success to success.

Charles Jamieson

One of the great things about travel is that you find out how many good, kind people there are. Let life surprise you and trust the journey.

       Jamieson 8     Jamieson 9

ABOUT CHARLES JAMIESON

Charles Jamieson is a Scottish artist and painter and great lover of Greece. His paintings are very distinctive with his trademark intelligent use of colour, coupled light and shade and are diverse in subject matter. Charles travels extensively and exhibits regularly in London and New York, while his paintings are in many private art collections across the world. He is a past Chairman of the Aspect Prize and also a past President of the Paisley Art Institute and has been the recipient of a number of art awards. He was nominated by The Herald as "one of 50 Scottish Artists to invest in", and he is included in The Dictionary of Scottish Painters 1600 to the Present.

His latest exhibition, “Three person show” runs at Thompson’s Gallery at Marylebone, London, from June 13th until June 30th, 2018. For more details, you may visit Charles’s website HERE.

      Jamieson 3 min     Jamieson 5 min

You can read Maria's part of the story in Greek HERE.

A modern Greek elixir


“Frappé lifts moods, stimulates conversation, announces your connection to a lifestyle unique to Greece, and connects you to it when you’re away.”

Anyone who has spent a few minutes at a café in Greece will inform you that the Frappé is so much more than just a national beverage. It is a symbol of idyllic summers in Greece. And coffee drinking is not a rushed affair. The “secret” formula relies only on optimum dosage and “batch” blending techniques. Examining the short, frothy history of frappé is an opportunity to reflect on the long, weighty history of the Greeks.

In Athens and throughout Greece, communal coffee drinking is a pleasure and passion to be savored slowly – siga-siga – and in a manner that is cool and relaxed – chalara. Making time for frappé means making time for seeing friends, relaxing, playing tavli (Greek backgammon), gossiping, solving the problems of the world, reading the newspaper, and enjoying the beautiful sights–shapely ones that are 20 years old and sculptured ones that are 2,500 years old.”

Frappé Nation Facts:

FRAPPE… is a French word for a Greek invention usually made with a Swiss coffee from the Ivory Coast. The word frappé is French for “hit”, “struck”, or, as applied to drinks like champagne and coffee, “iced”. The brand Nescafé is Swiss, owing its existence and first syllable to Nestlé, Switzerland. The coffee is largely African, with robusta beans cultivated in the Ivory Coast.

FRAPPE INVENTED IN 1957 AT THESSALONIKI INTERNATIONAL FAIR. At the exhibit for the Greek distributor of Nestlé products, sales representative Dimitrios Vakondios grabbed a shaker meant for a cocoa drink, filled it instead with cold water, and shook it vigorously. The unexpected burst of foam spilled onto his business suit, a messy mishap that heralded the birth of frappé

BASIC FRAPPE RECIPE

1) Place 1 rounded teaspoon instant coffee, 1-to-2 teaspoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons water in a shaker, jar, or drink mixer. Cover and shake well for 30 seconds or, if using a standing or hand-held drink mixer, process for 15 seconds to produce a thick, light-brown foam.
2) Place a few ice cubes in a tall glass. Slowly pour the coffee foam into the glass. Add 1-to-2 tablespoons milk (whole, lowfat or evaporated) and then enough water to fill the glass.

 

Frappé Nation, by Vivian Constantinopoulos and Daniel Young, is published by Editions Potamos.

To learn more, go to: www.frappenation.com

Easter in Greece, called “Pascha” is the holiday that traditionally starts on Clean Monday (or Ash Monday) and its beginning is signaled by “Sarakosti”; the forty days of fasting to spiritually prepare for Greek Orthodox Easter. The lent ends at midnight on Holy Saturday and during its period the body is cleansed and the spirit is tried as discipline in preparation for the acceptance of the resurrection of Christ.

It is the strictest fasting period of the orthodox calendar, and in Greece respected, and followed by many. Those that choose not to fast for the full forty days can choose to do so only during the Holy Week.

Every place that serves food or snacks advertises lenten “nistisima” dishes. The Greek Orthodox fast involves avoiding the consumption of any ‘red blood’ produce – therefore, no meat, eggs or dairy. No fish is allowed either, except for seafood from supposedly ‘bloodless’ creatures. The fast gets stricter with not even vegetable oil allowed on Wednesday and Good Friday.

The first 5 Fridays of the Lent is the “Heretismoi”, the salutations to “Panagia” Virgin Mary. The Church and the people salute the Virgin Mary by singing the “Akathistos Hymnos” (standing hymn). Everybody is standing when they sing this hymn and hence got that name.

The Holy week is deeply contemplative. It is controversial, but the saddest days in the Christian calendar are lightened with the happiest preparations. On Maundy Thursday, the tsourekia are prepared (rich, eggy, and slightly sweet Easter bread that is baked in big fat braids). The scent of butter and mahlepi – the crushed pits of wild cherries with their exotic, slightly dusty scent – fills every house and traditional bakery! The tang of hot vinegar fills the air too; this is the day we dye eggs deep lustrous red, symbolic of the blood of Christ, and vinegar helps the dye set.

Good Friday is a day like no other – unmistakably somber as it dawns to church bells sounding one single, mournful toll at regular intervals as the Church mourns the death and burial of Christ. Public services are closed all day, and shops are generally closed until the early afternoon so that everyone has the opportunity to stop by the church. Housewives usually do not do any housework on that day avoiding even cooking. Moreover, many people drink vinegar on that day in resemblance to the vinegar given to Jesus on the cross.

All day the faithful come to pay their respects at the Epitaphios – the symbolic funeral bier of Christ – which has been covered completely with flowers that the unmarried young ladies have collected from various gardens around the island. Come evening, on Astypalea island, there will be a procession of the icons and the coffin of Jesus Christ around the streets of the villages. Streets close around the main churches of the island, namely Lady Portaitissa, Grand Lady (Megali Panayia) in Chora, St. Nicolas at Pera Yialos and St. Dimitrios in Maltezana village, and they fill with people following the processions, candles alight.

People come out on their balconies with candles too as the procession passes below. The procession is accompanied by the singing of the Trisagion, typically in a melodic form used at funerals and the mood is solemn. The procession of the different parishes of St. Nicolas, Lady Portaitissa and Grand Lady join together and converge to the main Platia of Chora, where they are raised by hand or on poles like a canopy and the faithful pass under it, symbolically entering into the grave with Christ. The Epitaphios is then brought directly to the sanctuary, where it remains on the Holy Table until Ascension Thursday. The joy of the resurrection is just a little more than 24 hours away.

Remember to have candles with you (brown for Friday, white or a decorated or plain white one for Saturday) and enjoy it with all your heart! For those wondering what the word Epitáphios actually means, it is composite, from the Greek ἐπί, epí, "on" or "upon", and τάφος, táphos, "grave" or "tomb".

Holy Saturday is all madness. It’s the last minute for shopping, and there’s lots of it. In addition to the chocolate eggs and bunnies that accompany Easter everywhere, we need lambades to take the holy flame of the resurrection home from the church. These are special candles that come in an astonishing variety – decorated with everything from fairy princesses to logos from football teams. Godparents give them to the children they have baptized, along with a generous gift. And don’t forget to pick up a whole lamb or a goat to roast on the spit for Sunday lunch. It’s quite a shopping list.

Back home, we make magiritsa – a soup of lamb innards and bountiful fresh herbs, bound with an egg-lemon liaison. It sounds a little wild, but the herbs and lemon do a lot for it. We’ll break the fast with this delicious soup after we come home from the church.
Allow plenty of time to get dressed. You’d maybe think a religious holiday would call for modest attire, but you’d be wrong. The dress code is all-out glamorous for those who will be going out to the clubs and bars later on!

This most important of services is a long one. But truly, what with the magiritsa making and dressing for church, most of us only manage to get there barely a half hour before midnight. The church cannot begin to hold us all; the courtyard and the surrounding streets fill up. A loudspeaker clues us in to the proceedings. We each have a candle, and one of the eggs we dyed on Thursday. Anticipation rises.

And now the bells start to ring loud and fast. The priest and cantors sing, and we along with them- the most joyous song of the year:
“Χριστός ανέστη εκ νεκρών, θανάτω θάνατον πατήσας, και τοις εν τοις μνήμασι ζωήν χαρισάμενος.”
(Christos Anesti ek nekron, thanato thanaton patisas, kai tis en tis mnimasi zoin harisamenos = Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs, granting life.)

The holy flame is shared from candle to candle, spreading throughout the crowd. Fireworks fill the skies – lots of them. You can hear them from all parts of the town. We all greet each other with a kiss on each cheek and a wish of “Christos Anesti” (“Christ is Risen”), with the answer “Alithos Anesti” (“Truly He is risen”). Tip: leave your camera filming at the balcony of Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel and you will have the best recording of the impressive fireworks!

We crack our eggs together; the red shell, symbolizing the blood of Christ, falls away. And even in this solemn, commemorative act there is celebration – it’s also a contest to see who has the hardest egg.


Planning Your Greek Easter Vacation

When planning your vacation to Greece during Easter, keep in mind the country celebrates two separate holidays, western Easter and the Greek Orthodox Easter.
The Greek Orthodox calendar is different than the Gregorian calendar, which is most commonly used in Western countries and the United States; as a result, Greek Easter is most likely to fall on a different day.

 

References

  • A Season of Anticipation: The Glorious Build Up to Greek Easter, Amber Charmei, April 2018
  • Epitaphios: Traditions of Holy Friday, Stella Tsolakidou, May 2013
  • The meaning of Sarakosti in Greece by CretePost.gr, April 2018
  • Greek Easter Greetings: Say Happy Easter in Greece by Detraci Regula, March 2018

According to age-old Greek tradition, Easter eggs are dyed red. The red color represents the blood of Jesus Christ, whose resurrection is celebrated on the holiday of holidays throughout the Greek world. The egg itself represents the sealed tomb of Jesus from which he emerged following his crucifixion.

According to tradition, Holy Thursday is the day that Greeks dye their eggs and red has been the traditional color. In the Western world, and even in Greece, the tradition has started to fade and bright colors, patterns, stickers are used to decorate Easter eggs.

The game of cracking— or “tsougrisma” as the Greeks call it symbolizes the breaking open of the tomb and Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The custom takes place after the Resurrection (on Easter Saturday at midnight or the following day during the Easter feasts). Two people compete by holding their respective egg in their hand and tapping at each other’s egg. The goal is to crack the other player’s egg. The winner, then, uses the same end of the egg to tap the other, non cracked end of the opponent’s egg. The “winner” is the one, whose egg will crack the eggs of all the other players.

In Astypalea, like the rest of Greece, the people are following body and soul into the culmination of the Passion of Christ and finally His Resurrection.

The Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel team would like to wish you a very Happy Easter with good health and joy for all your family.

 

Source: http://www.pappaspost.com/why-greeks-crack-eggs-on-easter/

A unique experience you should not miss during your time in Greece

It’s often said that you get to truly know a place, once you’ve met the people who call it their home. Once you hear their stories and share their happiness. Once you’ve spent time together and put every day worries behind you.

The festive celebrations of religious anniversaries give the visitors of the island a great opportunity to witness the true identity of Astypalea.

Hospitable and openhearted by nature, Astypaleans, will instantly make you feel welcome and at home. Eager to share their joy, they won’t think twice before inviting you to join in the celebrations. They will happily talk to you about their homeland, which they absolutely adore, and treat you to local delicacies, ranging from “japrakia” or “dolmadakia” (i.e. vine leaves stuffed with rice), locally produced cheese, “pouggia” (cheese rolls particular to the Astypalean cuisine) and various sweets, to more intricate dishes like the exquisite “lambrianos” (i.e. baked lamb or goat stuffed with liver, rice and spices). It goes without saying that wine flows freely at all such occasions, the music of the violins and the lutes creating an atmosphere of nostalgic euphoria, immersing you either to a sweet inertia or enticing you to wildly dance.

In every fair, and before you even realise it, you'll find yourself mingle with the group of people around you and dance to traditional songs until, most likely, the early morning hours. And by that time, you will have picked up the Astyapalean 'sousta' steps, a rhythmic dance that's very popular in all fairs. You can always count on one of the locals to show you the steps if you’re unsure, but by the time the sun rises, you will have mastered them and will be able to lead the dance in the next fair - always, only a short while away.

That people feel the need to drop everything they’re doing in order to start dancing upon listening to the sound of the violin, brings in mind a flock of birds looking for water: once they have located a pond, they all touch down and start drinking it.

Summer fairs are quite special. They are the days of joyous celebration both for the locals and the visitors of the island. Not only do they combine religious rites with festivities but they allow the truly devout to ‘let go’ and enjoy themselves and the locals to celebrate in the company of friends and relatives who –despite having emigrated to other countries or places–always make sure to return to Astypalea during their summer holidays. All visitors of the island get to partake in this festive atmosphere, and this makes them feel like they truly belong here.

The most known –and worth attending –summer fairs in Astypalea, involve the ones in celebration of the Saints name days, particularly that of Profet Elija (19 Jul), Saint Panteleymon (26 Jul) and Saint John the Baptist (28 Aug) as well as the ones celebrating the Transfiguration of Jesus (5 Aug), the Dormition (14-16 Aug) and the Nativity of Mary (7 Sep).

The greatest of these fairs is the one dedicated to the Dormition of Mary. The festivities, which last for three days are held at “Rodja” –meaning “Pomegranate tree” –in the churchyard of “Panagia Portaitissa”, taking the name from the place where a pomegranate tree used to grow. Panagia Portaitissa, situated at the edge of the main village (Chora) of Astypalea, was founded by Saint Anthimos in 1762 and operated as a women’s convent for a long period of time. It is now considered the most important Orthodox place of worship on the island. There, in the churchyard of Panagia Portaitissa, is where the feast in celebration of the Dormition of Mary takes place on the eve of the holiday (14/8). Spirits are always high –to be precise, the merriment goes on well into the next morning, long after the sun has risen and revealed the breathtaking view of the Aegean Sea.

The festivities resume on the day of Dormition, right after the evening prayer; the local women treat the visitors of the island with delicacies to thank them for paying their respects to Her Grace, the “Mother of God”. The meal is accompanied by plenty of wine but what makes the fair stand out, is everyone’s good spirits.

Finally, the following day is reserved for “Koukania”—games that are traditionally organized in the context of religious festivities and involve races, swimming competitions, tug-of-war, egg-in-spoon relay races, sack races and, of course, the notorious “Grab the rooster” game. Find yourself a spot with a panoramic view and prepare to have a good laugh –often to the point of tears.

TIP

>> Make sure that you pay a visit to the Ecclesiastical Museum of Astypalea, which shelters a number of important exhibits –pictures as well as artefacts –like a picture of Jesus and a wood carved Epithaph, dating back to the 15th and the 17th century, respectively.

Attending an astypalean feast is a very rewarding experience. The festivities evoke the innocence of our childhood –like visiting one’s grandparents in the countryside during a school holiday or like the first time we stayed up all night. And nothing can beat that!

I knew of Maria from the Shipping community and the WISTA (Women in Shipping and Trading Association) meetings. I truly noticed her though, an evening when I heard her talk passionately about her favorite island, Astypalea.

The island’s beaches, the magical sunrise and the romantic sunset. Its people, delicacies, traditions and its indulging beauty, the crystal clear seawater and the endless blue of the Aegean Sea.

Her eyes were shining whilst she spoke of her vision for her birth place. And when she mentioned Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel, I immediately sensed it was a unique place. I was surprised when she called and proposed to exhibit my artwork at the hotel. However, the charm of Astypalea that was bestowed upon me that night, persuaded me to pay a visit to this very special island and meet Maria’s business partner, Carolina and the team.

The business philosophy of these two women is loyal to Green entrepreneurship in harmony with the natural beauty of the island. They both strive, innovate, endeavor and set goals that they achieve.

But their biggest advantage is the breathtaking view from Kallichoron. Captivating nights with the Venetian castle glistening among the clouds, even in winter time, that welcome the pale pink dawn, followed by noon that douses the castle with light, and avails itself to the magical colors of the sunset. All these images were keeping me fixed on the balcony.

What other reason did I need to be convinced and become part of such an inspiring project despite the logistical difficulties?

The natural beauty, the stunning sunrise in the Aegean Sea, the challenge to explore the hidden beauties, each beach and the endless purifying blue, the desire to dive in the water and enjoy the peace it promises. To walk around the picturesque Chora and experience the serene island life.

But above all, I was won over by the vision and the passion of these two women, who truly love what they’re doing and the respect they pay to the authentic Greek hospitality.

Eva Divari

The Castle was Astypalea’s only settlement until the 19th century. Some barns were attached at its outskirts; structures that served various purposes for the villagers, whilst others were found near the farming fields which better served the farmers. Some pens catered to the stockbreeders' needs.

New housing developments began near the year 1930, when houses started to appear outside the settlement and a number of former barns and pens were turned into residences, simply by making additions of rooms or levels to the original structures.

The largest representation of those repurposed dwellings can mostly be traced at the villages of Maltezana and Livadi, the latter being the most prosperous part of the island. The villages of Vathi, Shinondas, Marmari, Tzakani, Vatses are smaller villages with fewer abodes.

In the main town of the island, we come across two types of residences, both custom to the Aegean islands style. The first type is presented in the houses built peripherally around the Castle, and beside each other so as to form a protective wall. Originally, those houses had no windows.

The second is found inside the Castle, where approximately 400 homes existed, all three floors high and built adjacent creating narrow alleyways that would only fit one person crossing at a time. In those past times, the Castle housed around a thousand residents.

As time went by and the threats by pirates and other adversaries lessened, the Castle served as the foundation of the modernized settlement and further residences started to sprawl outside its walls.

A walk through the diverse residential neighborhoods of the islands is enough to get you acquainted with the history and the stories that have shaped the unique character and the strong personality of Astypalea.

We invite you to discover the past and present of our island!

[Information by: History & Stories of Astypalea, Eleftherios Filimon Xanthos]

Spring on the island! The castle, the typical architecture, the gracious rock, the herbs and the beautiful back yards overlooking the Aegean Sea, star during this time of the year.

Mixed aromas, resembling the sense of a woman, the salt of the sea and the charming figure of a determined to reach as high as possible, bougainvillea.
Balconies hanging above the picturesque alleyways and each door opens to reveal well-kept stories. You sneakily look a half opened door, there lies a pot of basil freshening up the air, right by there lies the cat. The water is dripping, oh! what a wonderful feeling!
Poems resemble nature and the sky mirrors the Mediterranean temperament.

The air smells thyme and the local herbs spread their "divine energy" around the island. The birds are tweeting gracefully, making them show like they are sharing their winter stories, their adventurous swifts between cold and warm seasons. The bushes bright as they are and the flowers dancing complete the picture of a white splashed church looking just like your aqua marine favourite summer dream.

An old man playing his guitar sharing his notes with the fellow islanders. We blink and twinkle and there change the seasons, the sea gets sweeter and so are the girls!

Swathed in silky aquamarine waters, butterfly-shaped Astypalea is ideal for wanderers and history buffs. For any alternative island hunter, this is the ultimate Easter escape. 
 
It’s that time of year, when spring paints a marvellous landscape, ideal for nature seekers and lovers alike. Think mountainous meadows straight from the pages of Homer and rugged beaches fringed in blue water. If you add the local traditions and customs during the Greek Orthodox Easter, Astypalea makes the perfect alternative destination to spend Easter. 
 
Countless herbs, thyme, sage, flowers like daisies, climb upon the rocky surface of the island creating a one of a kind natural setting. Colours and aromas burst out and so do the locals!  
 
Make sure to indulge yourself in exceptional Astypalean gastronomic delicacies that local women, traditionally prepare that season. Stay alert, for those yellow cookies made of -wild handpicked- crocus (commonly known as saffron), and plenty of love from our beloved Grandmas. One more local culinary treasure you have to experience, is “lazarakia”, the sweet and spicy breads made of sugar and cinnamon. Yes! That’s what you’ve been smelling in the air of the island, for so long. It is cinnamon and sugar! 
 
A violin, a lute and the waves of the Aegean Sea offer the ideal atmosphere to enjoy a peaceful Easter. On Holy Saturday night, when the clock strikes midnight, find yourself either at St. John’s down at Pera Yalos, or at Panayia Portaitissa at Chora and enjoy along with the locals the warm feeling of the ceremony. 

The family of Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel wishes everyone peaceful days ahead and we are looking forward to seeing you on the island soon!

Call us to book

+30 2243 061 935
+30 6936 889 888

Find us

Chora, Astypalea
85 900, Dodecanese

Email us

info@kallichoron.gr
reservations@kallichoron.gr

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