Astypalea (Chora)

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Astypalea (Chora)

Chora is the "queen" of Astypalea, the capital and the port of the island and one of the most beautiful towns in the Aegean. It is hunging up on a rock to oversee the endless blue and the islands that lie in front of it. It stands out for the Venetian castle of Guerini with the 2 churches inside, the oldest of Agios Georgios Glykavlis built in 1790 with its wood-carved iconostasis and Panagia tou Kastrou (Evangelistria) built in the middle of the 18th century. Around the castle there are picturesque houses with small courtyards, colorful doors and small balconies, retaining the classic architectural style of Cyclades, although Astypalea is a Dodecanese island.

The castle was renovated by the Querini family in the 15th century. The view from the castle is unique with the winds that are always present to give something divine to the visitor's contact with the place. The sunrise from up there is stunning and really worth seeing it. In Chora, apart from the castle, there is also the only infant cemetery in the world that dates from the Geometric years to the Hellenistic era and Panagia Portaitissa which is considered one of the most beautiful churches in the Dodecanese. Panagia Portaitissa is located at the entrance of the castle and was built in the 18th century by a blind Athonite monk. The view from the church of Panagia is breathtaking while it is also the place that hosts the famous festival on the 15th of August.

In the central square is the Town Hall, the Municipal Library and the 8 windmills with red roofs, which once served the needs of the people of the island, while today is the meeting point of all those who want to walk in the surrounding alleys. The mills of Astypalea are estimated to have been built after the end of the 15th century and were originally 12. One of the mills today is the library of the island and some others host periodic exhibitions.

From the Town Hall start the two main cobbled alleys that end at the castle. One crosses the parish of Portaitissa overlooking the bay of Livadi. The other passes by the church of Megali Panagia, a very elegant Aegean temple with a blue dome and pebbled courtyard, overlooking Pera Gialos.

The whole life of the island is located in Chora. In the main square and the surrounding cobbled alleys there are several shops, tavernas and bars. It is worth trying some of the local recipes and sweets.