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Island of Astypalea
Mythology would have it that Astypalea and Europa were the daughters of the king of the Phoenicians and Perimedes. From her marriage to Poseidon, Astypalea gave birth to the Argonaut Agcaeus and the King of Kos Eurypylus. The island was first inhabited during prehistoric times.
  Among its residents were the Karres, who called the island Pyrra for its red colour, and the Minoans. During the Hellenistic period the Ptolemaic Pharaohs of Egypt had a port - staging post here and the island developed extensive maritime activities and became well known thanks to its wealth of fisheries (even being called Ichthyoessa) and its abundant agricultural produce. Because of its numerous, scented flowers and the fruit and vegetable grown here the ancients called it the Dining Table of the Gods.
During the period of Roman rule the island's ports were used as bases of operations against the pirates and for that reason the Romans granted the residents many privileges. During the Byzantine period the outbreak of piracy again changed the building structure of the islands with coastal settlements falling into demise, populations moving inland and fortresses being erected for protection.
Following 1204 the island passed into Venetian hands and in particular the Quirini family - with the exception of a short period when it returned to the Byzantine Empire (1269-1310). The Quirini remained lords of the island until 1537 when it was seized by the Turks. Just like the other Dodecanese islands, it remained in Turkish hands until 1912 and then passed to the Italians only to be united with Greece in 1948.
The rugged coastline of Astypalea is nothing more than an endless game between land and sea. In the middle of the island approximately, the land narrows so much that a strip just 10 m wide connects the two sections. The Steno, as it is known by locals, divides Astypalea into the eastern Mesa Nisi (middle island) and the western 'Exo Nisi' (outer island).

Astypalea or Hora:
This is the capital and port of the island built on a hill protruding into the sea thus forming two bays: the port - Pera Yialos -and Livadia Bay. The peak is dominated by the fortress built of dark local stone from which one can see the glowing white domes of the Evangelistria and Aghios Georgios Churches sticking out. Around it are white houses with blue doors and windows and wooden railings on the balconies. Among them are churches and domed chapels. On the saddle of the hill are eight windmills, a unique jewel adorning Hora. Slightly further on is the traditional coffee house and further still is the Town Hall from whence the two main roads which lead up the hill to the Fortress begin. Each leads to a well known church, the Monastery of Panaghia Portaitissa on the Livadia Bay side and the Megali Panaghia Church on the Pera Yialos side.

Analipsi or Maltezana:
A seaside village spread out along a small valley in Exo Nisi with a beautiful sandy beach. The second name 'Maltezana' makes reference to the pirates who pillaged the Aegean and found refuge in the island's sheltered bays. The village hugs the bay with a long jetty at which fishing caiques moor. The orchards and vineyards go right down to the water's edge. Tour boats can take visitors to the island's beaches and the islets of Hondro, Ligno, Aghia Kyriaki, Koutsomytis, Syrna and Kounoupi.

A seaside village spread along a fertile valley on the inlet of the bay with the same name. Livadia is the island's flower garden. The gardens with mandarin trees, orange trees, vines, and houses bedecked in flowers are spread along the entire length of the stream which terminates at a beautiful beach.

Vathy resembles are lagoon. The bay is almost completely closed off with an opening of just 50m. There are two small villages at Vathy: Exo Vathy which is at the mouth of the bay with its small jetty at which caiques moor and Mesa Vathy on the inlet of the bay with fields, a few trees and vineyards. Visitors can reach Vathy by road along a passable dirt track or by boat. There are regular sailings from Vai Bay.

Other islets in the area:
To the southeast are the islets of Hondro, Ligno, Aghia Kyriaki with a church dedicated to that saint, Koutsomytis with its charming beach and Kounoupi. Further out are Adelfi, Syrna and the Tria Nisia. To the west are the islets of Ktenia, Pontikoussa, Ofidoussa and Katsagreli. To the north is Fokionisia.



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