The southern part of the island near the port and the capital “Pigadia” is the most developed and the north still maintains its originality. There you will visit “Olympos” or “Elympos” for locals one of the best-known traditional Greek villages, and you will experience the most unique atmosphere in the world!
What to See
Pigadia is the capital and main port of the island of Karpathos with a population of about 2500 inhabitants and it has been built amphitheatrically around the natural port. On the left of the harbour dominates there is a rock where the ruins of the ancient acropolis of the island can be seen. Situated 8 kilometres south-west from Pigadia, Menetes is the cleanest village of Karpathos. Its little whitewashed houses with their yellow and blue shutters and doors together with the narrow alleys and the flowered balconies and yards create wonderful and attractive scenery. Worth-seeing are the Church of the Assumption, the Byzantine Church of Aghios Mamas and the archaeological collection of the village, exhibiting various findings from the surrounding area. Othos is a mountainous village lying on a high spot of an altitude of 500 metres and offering a magnificent view over the sea and the south-eastern part of Karpathos. It has a population of about 300 inhabitants. The beauty of Othos is accentuated by its many traditional houses painted in white and lilac creating a setting of unique beauty. Othos is famous for its sweet red wine, its excellent taverns and its traditional feasts. The beautiful village of Mesohori is full of traditional houses and overlooks the sea offering a magnificent view of the sea.
Olympos is a village of exceptional beauty, located on the northern side of Karpathos island, about 58 km from Pigadia. The houses, lying on the slopes of a mountain, have been built according to the traditional architectural style and its inhabitants are trying to keep traditions alive. Because Karpathos was often raided by pirates, this little village was camouflaged and the people built their houses with natural stone. The village is also called “the Women’s Village”) because the women constitute the majority. In the past their men were either out fighting pirates and Turks, or forced to work abroad. There are also many local customs not to be found anywhere else in Greece. One could say that the whole village is a live museum that gets idyllic when the clouds come down and surround it. There are many churches in Olympos such as the 16th century church of Panaghia in the square. Every year on 15th August there is a big festival dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin; women wear traditional costumes, men play traditional musical instruments and people eat and dance in the square. Close to Olympos village, there are also the remains of ancient Vrikous, one of the most important towns of Karpathos in the antiquity. Vrikous flourished in the 5th century B.C. and some remains of walls and houses were excavated.
The islet of Saria
The small islet of Saria, located on the northern edge of Karpathos, is separated from the mainland of Karpathos by a narrow, long strait. It is believed that the two islands were united in the antiquity and a strong earthquake separated them. Historical records reveal that a kingdom existed there in the ancient times, probably the ancient town of Nisyros. The ruins of ancient Nisyros, including a temple dedicated to Apollo, can still be seen on the sea-bed between Saria and Karpathos. There are also ruins of pre-Byzantine buildings-called “palaces” and if you’re lucky enough you might encounter seals monachus monachus since the area is a haven of protected species. This tiny islet has a spectacular landscape comprising white sandy virgin beaches with crystal clear water, steep cliffs, calcareous rock beds, deep caves and dashing streams. Saria is not inhabited nowadays and only a few shepherds go to this isolated isle to range their stocks. In summer, there are small tour boats to connect Pigadia to Saria islet in frequent daily trips.
It is worth visiting the Folklore Museum (+30 22450 31460) in Othos village, which is a typical example of traditional Karpathos house. Also in the Archaeological Museum (+30 22450 23441) in Pigadia you will see findings from all over the island dating from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages.