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Τοp 5 hidden gems in Greece

1. Patmos. The island of the Apocalypse.

Worldwide known as a sacred island for it is the place where Saint John wrote the Book of Revelation, Patmos is an ideal destination for nature lovers thanks to its lace-like coastline, sheer cliffs and volcanic soil. Designated as “Holy Island” by the Greek Parliament in 1981 as well as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999, Patmos had been used as a place of exile by the Romans on account of its steep morphology. That’s how St. John found safe refuge here in the 1st century A.D., exiled by the Emperor Domitian. Around the Holy Monastery of the Apocalypse (built as a castle in 1088) revolve the spiritual celebrations of Holy Week and Easter Sunday, while in the Cave where Christ’s most beloved disciple spent his last days of his life we can still trace the spots where St. John rested his head and touched the rocky surface. Apart from the religious sites, the island also hosts many sun-loving tourists who are in search of unspoiled beaches.



2. Discover a centuries-old naval tradition in Oinousses.

Oinoússes is a complex of nine islands and skerries located between Chios and the Erythraia peninsula in Asia Minor, out of which only one is inhabited (the one bearing the same name). Oinousses has been known since ancient times. Due to its strategic position it was conquered over the centuries by the Genoese, the Venetians, and the Turks. The islands’ striking natural beauty explains why they form part of the European network "NATURA 2000". Set out on a trip to Oinoússes in summer and enjoy precious moments of peace and isolation in sandy sun-drenched beaches. Participate in local religious festivities which are organised throughout the summer, and enjoy authentic local cuisine in tavernas by the sea.



3. Paxi. A sanctuary of love for gods

Cultural village of Europe for the year 2004, Paxi is the ideal island for a peaceful holiday. Fjord-shaped beaches, underwater caves, small bays and green hills welcome the lucky visitors. According to the legend, the island would be the southernmost tip of Corfu, if the god of the Sea, Poseidon, had not broken it off with his trident when he needed a god-deserving place to live his love with the Nereid Amphitrite. Its capital and main port, Gaios (Gáios), is separated from its natural breakwater, the tiny island of Agios Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas), by a narrow channel, displaying one of the most beautiful port sceneries in Greece. At the beginning and at the end of summer the island hosts internationally famous Greek and foreigner soloists, whereas in July the traditional festival of “Water and Oil” is held dedicated to folk music. To fully enjoy the celebration, visitors will sample here bread soaked in water, olives, onions, boiled potatoes and local wine.
Although a small island, it is endowed with outstanding beauty. The island of Antipaxi (literally meaning “opposite Paxi”) lies at just 3 nautical miles from the port of Gaios. Antipaxi is famous for its renowned beaches, among which Voutoúmi, with its exotic turquoise waters, is supposed to be one of the most beautiful in the world. But travellers will cherish the place as much as the wine. Apart from the traditional methods of producing wine of fine quality and other Greek varietals (the worldwide famous “mavrodáfni” is one of them), enhanced, biological cultivations transform the local wine into a product of high nutritional value.



4. Villages made from mastic?

In the south and most fertile part of Chios island in the only place in the world where mastic grows, there are the 24 Mastic Villages. Built in the Middle Ages, these villages display exquisite architecture and unique decorative elements, such as the ksistá, “scratched surfaces”, on the facades of the houses in Pyrgi, the biggest of the villages. Ksista are geometric designs scratched on plaster with a technique that is unparalleled in the world. If you are lucky enough, you might catch the plaster workers at work!
South of Pyrgi, there is Mestá, another medieval village, whose stone houses form an impregnable fortress. The village has only one gateway for people to enter and the houses are built so close to one another that locals say the only way to walk around is by climbing over the roofs. Let the locals treat you with “mestoútsiko”, a local wine, and with a drink made of distilled figs and grapes, “soúma”.


Mastic trees


5. Inland: Traditional stone-built settlements in Mani, Peloponnese

Váthia is located in the southern part of Laconian Máni; it belongs to the group of settlements called "Inner Villages" (Mésa Horiá). On the top of a 200m high hill, Váthia is a dense, stone-built settlement consisting of 144 buildings grouped into four distinct neighbourhoods. The architectural style of the buildings and the village's spatial organisation reflect the struggle between Máni families competing to settle on the hilltop, Váthia’s dominant strategic point during the medieval times. As you walk through the village’s cobbled paths, you realize that each neighbourhood is organised as a self-governing unit, encompassing a war tower, a church, fortified dwellings, private streets, and “dark” meeting points, called “roúyes”. Short sightseeing excursions will take you to Areópolis, the capital of Máni, where stone buildings are also renovated; to the Diros caves, a spectacular –and still unexplored– natural site, one of the earliest inhabited places in Greece; or to Yeroliménas, the tourist port of Máni. Further to the southernmost point of mainland Greece, Cape Taínaron is located. Your spiritual quest will lead you here, to the cave of Hades, the god of the dead, and the ancient temple of sea god Poseidon. This memorable trip concludes with a visit to Gýtheion, and the isle of Kranái.



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