Only a mile west of Parikia on Paros, little Antiparos has a deep cave full of stalactities that is a must stop for every visitor. Antiparos is considered the octopus capital of Greece.
Antiparos has an area of
35 square km and a coast line of 57 km. Its secluded sandy beaches
and crystal clear waters make it an attractive alternative from the
crowds which frequently overrun Paros. Nudists tend to favor Antiparos.
Paros and Antiparos were once joined. Frequent water taxis cover the narrow channel between the two islands now. The lady in the picture at
left is sitting within the harbor-side outer wall.
means 'opposite Paros' is the less visited of the two islands. Its popularity
and prices have been increasing in the last few years.
This small island
is the largest of a group of islands near the coast of Paros including Despotikon,
Kavouras, Diplo, Saliagos and Strongilo. Though short, the ride from Paros to Antiparos can be choppy, so it's wise to be prepared if you get motion sickness or if you have expensive cameras to protect from the spray.
Antiparos is well known
for its abundant supply of fresh octopus. There may or may not be any truth to the notion that octopus is an aphrodisiac, but the population of this once-deserted island is increasing, so what can we say?
There's a small castle, a good beach–Psaraliki–and a beach where the sunsets are famous, appropriately named Sunset Beach. South of the cave, there's a beach with a resort at Ag. Georgios.
The islands main
port and capital Antiparos Town is built around the
keep of the Venetian medieval castle and the outermost row of houses
comprises the enceinte or outer wall. The town is also refered
to as 'Kastro' or Castle.
waters around the island are fairly shallow and there are several lovely
beaches: Molos, Sifnaikos, Diopori and Soros. The sand is fine and golden. The west coast is slightly less explored than the east, if you're looking for solitude on the beach. The surrounding
islets are good fishing areas as well.
The famous Antiparos Cave is on the west side
of the island in the hill of Aghios Ioannis. It's rich with stalagmites
The tiny chapel of St. John Spiliotis (1774) is at
the caves entrance. The enormous stalagmite known as the 'alter table'
is so named because on Christmas day 1673 the French Ambassador de Nointle
celebrated midnight mass there, as we are told by the commemorative inscription
in Latin at its base. The story is that five hundred Greek Orthodox parishoners were paid to attend
the Catholic service.
Many famous souls have left traces of their visits on the stalagmites
and stallactities including Lord Byron and King Otho. Many
seeking to escape Alexander the Great hid in the cave and left markings. Many inscriptions
were taken by Russians officers when in 1774 they chopped them off as
souveniers. Many more were lost during WWII when Nazi and Italian troops
shot up the cave. The cave is protected from such destruction now.
Buses or boats take visitors to the cave which is open 10:45 AM to 3 PM (fee charged).
From the cave mouth it is a dramatic 210 descent feet in to the remakable cavern. The cave is really
much deeper, but dangerous, and its lower recesses are closed to
Antiparos Town activities center around the quay and the Venetian kastro area. The village has two 17th Century churches: Agios Niloaos and Evangelismos.
In summer, boats run from Antiparos Town to the cave. From the boat dock it is a half-hour walk up Mount Ioannis to the cave mouth.
Drinking and Dining
Near the waterfront there are pleasant cafes.
ancient times the island was called Ollaros and was first mentioned as a base
for Phoenician traders from Sidon. A Neolithic settlement found on the nearby islet of Saliagos indicates that there were very early Cycladic settlements here.
The Venetian kastro area is a good example of a 15th Century fortress town. There are narrow streets and hidden inner courtyards, all designed to deter attacking pirates.