Summer 2022

Picture Postcard Greece

After a quiet couple of days in Despotiko we headed 14 nm north back through the channel between Paros and Antiparos, avoiding the rocks, to Parikia on the west coast of Paros.

Parikia is the capital town and main port on the island, ferries run frequently from here to all parts of Greece. The town is a busy commercial town with a popular seaside resort at its northern end.

Much of the traditional Cycladic architecture has been maintained here and it is full of whitewashed cubic houses with blue shutters and wooden doors. A labyrinth of narrow alleyways wind around the houses with overhanging colourful flowers.

The town was built around the 13th century castle, called Kastro, on the highest point of the town. Nowadays, only part of the wall and a tower remain from the Venetian castle.

There are many churches, the most important and oldest being the 4th century Byzantine Church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani (Our Lady of the Hundred Doors). It is considered as one of the most important Byzantine monuments still standing in Greece with the building works being initiated by Helena the mother of Constantine the Great.

In order to separate the ladies, they were given access to the balcony overlooking the Church, I think they had the best view!

The Church also houses a museum which exhibits a collection of Icons and findings dating from the Neolithic and Roman periods.

As we strolled around the town we stumbled across a perfect little bar for a sundowner.

Strong northerly winds were due to blow over the next few days so with ZigZag safely anchored in the protection of the bay, we hired a car to explore the islands.

Our first stop was the car ferry dock where we crossed the channel (that we had previously sailed through twice) to Antiparos.

The most famous sight on the small island is Antiparos Cave which is a natural wonder full of stalactites and stalagmites. It is also known as the Cave of Agios Ioannis Church named after the small white 18th century Chapel of Agios Ioannis Spiliotis, which stands at the entrance to the cave.

It is located 171 meters above sea level and has great views from the entrance over the Aegean Sea, surrounding inlets, rocks and over to Paros.

The large Cave is the only vertical cave in all of Europe with a depth of approximately 85 meters, it extends at several levels and has a maximum width of almost 60 meters.

Renovation took place in 2009 and we were very pleased to find that the modernisation project included the creation of a 411 step staircase with a protective railing and the installation of lighting. I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been climbing down without the steps!

Findings have shown the cave to have initially been used as a refuge and later as a place of worship for the goddess Artemis. Macedonian generals used it in the 4th century BC as a refuge after their conspiracy against Alexander the Great.

Inscriptions on the walls are proof of the many prominent visitors of the cave dating back to the Neolithic period. A few of those visitors include: Alexander the Great, King Otto, the marquis de Nointe (ambassador of France) and the lyric poet Archilochus of Paros.

The oldest stalagmite in the cave is estimated to be around 45 million years old, it is also believed to be the most ancient in Europe, and is called ‘The Huge Central Column’.

The climb back up the 411 steps was hard work and we were definitely ready for lunch so went in search of a nice cafe in the town.

After lunch we returned to the ferry and the short trip back to Paros. Our next stop was Naousa, a picturesque fishing town on the north side of the island.

The town is the second largest on the island and has also retained its traditional architecture with whitewashed and flowered little houses, tiny churches and chapels and narrow, stone-paved streets. It is built around a pretty harbour full of colourful wooden fishing boats. Waterside bars and fish taverns surround the harbour which would previously have been the location of Venetian storehouses.

The remains of a Venetian fort can be seen at the entrance to the old port, originally constructed in the 15th century, the fortress was used as a watchtower for pirate and enemy attacks and as a front line in times of war.

As the sun started to go down the waterside bars became busy with everyone wanting to watch the sunset.

At the end of the day we returned to Parikia and prepared to leave the bay the following morning.

With a good wind still blowing, we had a lovely downwind sail back through our favorite channel, which was somewhat less stressful on our third passage, and continued 30nm to Schoinoúsa, one of the chain of islands known as the small Cyclades. In complete contrast to Paros, we anchored in the clear, calm water of this quiet, deserted bay with a few farm buildings and a Chora on a distant hill.

4 replies on “Picture Postcard Greece”


Puts the Blue John Caverns in Castleton to shame.

Absolutely picture perfect edition, and slightly spoilt us by the quantity of such beautiful pictures.

Liked by 1 person

What beautiful pictures which reminds me quite how lovely Greece is. Sounds like you had a great time hiring out the car and exploring. However, struggled to read about the cave – even though the pictures are amazing – as my claustrophobia was on high alert. I would have had to wait outside! 😳 x

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