Our own Ikaria
Ikaria island is located in the northeastern Aegean Sea. It is known for its amazing nature, its mountains which start almost at sea level, for its rocky coastlines and beaches, as well as for its beautiful hiking trails. In the recent years the island also became famous for its village festivals (there are almost 100 during the year). For its tasty vegetables and fruit and, of course, its excellent wine which, after a long absence, reappeared dynamically in the map of Greek wines in 2008.
It’s a unique island from many aspects, rich in natural compositions and one of the places claiming the birth of god Dionysus. On the slopes of the mountains there are a lot of little villages hidden between huge boulders, forests, ravines and coves. A characteristic thing about Ikaria is that, from antiquity to this day, no big or imposing building was ever constructed. Everything has remained simple and frugal, the same as the way of life of the people themselves.
During the last decade there is a lot of discussion about the longevity of the Ikarians, a fact which is attributed to their active and good-quality everyday life. The basic components of the locals’ diet which, according to scientists, contribute to their long life, are wild herbs and vegetables, mushrooms, honey and, of course, the local wine, the “Pramnian”, as it was called in antiquity.
Ikaria is well-known for the particular conception of time and the philosophy of its inhabitants. It’s a special place gifted with a culture which is certainly worth knowing. The Ikarians are calm, hospitable and eager. No matter what time of the day it is, they will usually invite you for a glass of wine and some local delicacy and get you engaged in a friendly chat. Even though you just met, you will find out that they have a way of making you feel comfortable and look forward to meet them again.
Something worth seeing in Ikaria is the style of the traditional stone-made houses which speak of the frugality and practicality of the old inhabitants who built their homes under trees or between large rocks to make it invisible and protect it from pirate raids. If you wish to find out more about local history, you may visit the small folklore museums in the villages of Agios Polikarpos, Vrakades and the town of Agios Kirikos, the archeological collection in the village of Kampos and the archeological museum of Agios Kirikos. You may also like to see the remains of the temple of goddess Artemis in Nas, the ancient tower in Drakanon and the artifacts found there in the recent excavations, as well as the small cove of “Iero” near the airport and the cave where, according to legend, was the birthplace of Dionysus.
You may also enjoy the beauty of the landscape and take a close look at the biodiversity of the island’s nature through organized hiking tours in the old hiking trails which are being constantly marked and mapped. And, of course, you shouldn’t miss the chance to have a good time, listening to violin music and dancing, eating goat meat and drinking wine, in one of the famous festivals (“panigiri”) which are held in every village of Ikaria during the summer months.
Ikaria is a green, mountainous island with a lot of running waters. Its square footage is 650.000 square kilometers and it has approximately 8.000 inhabitants. The ridge which runs across the island is called “Pramnos” (or “Atheras”) with its peaks reaching 1.050 meters and a coastline somewhat longer than 15.000 km. Its southern side is steeper than the northern side on the heights of which there are several small mountain plateaus, such as “Pezi”, “Ammoudia”, “Erifi”, “Arnopeza” and others. The main occupations of the inhabitants are livestock, agriculture and tourism. However, it’s very likely to hear an Ikarian say: “Happiness isn’t found in material possecions”.