Discover / The people, the nature, the culture and the gastronomy of a unique place

SETTLEMENTS

MANDRAKI
The capital, port and largest settlement on the island is Mandraki. Here resides the overwhelming majority of the island’s residents. It is a very picturesque village. The houses have two levels with their front facing the east to protect from proveza, the western wind blowing on the island. They are built next to each other, with white walls and shutters painted in bold colors. The narrow cobblestoned alleys end up in pebbled squares, while the coastal road leads to the monastery of Panagia Spiliani. The two-storey neoclassical building which houses the Town Hall is built in 1931 by craftsmen from Symi and stands out for its unique architecture. In the centre of the village is the Ilikiomeni square, with its characteristic ficus.

PALOI
A coastal settlement with sandy beaches, fish restaurants and access to other beaches of the village like Lies and Pachia Ammos. Admire the Panagia Thermiani and the ippokrateia baths. The village operates a marina for private boats. It is estimated that 15-20 vessels on average are moored daily from early April to late October.

EMPORIOS
Small mountain village, with the Castle of Pantoniki and the Church of Taxiarchis. You can enjoy the excellent view of the volcano’s caldera. At the entrance of the village there is a cave that due to the heat from the volcanic activity of the island, is considered a natural sauna. In the past it was a large and populous village, but today it seems desolate, since very few inhabitants remain there during the winter.

NIKIA
This village has a particular and characteristic architecture. It is built on the ledge of the caldera, gazing at the Aegean on the one side and the craters on the other side. The pebbled elliptical square of the village is impressive and the only volcanological museum in Greece, the Church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary and the houses with typical single incline roofs, will fascinate you. The Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the Monastery of Panagia Kyra are the rest of the village’s sights.

SIGHTSEEING

CALDERA – CRATER
The volcano of Nisyros is the newest active volcano in Greece since its oldest rocks do not exceed 150,000 years of age. 60,000 years ago to this day, hundreds of small eruptions built a cone that rose about 600 metres above sea level and had roughly the perimeter of the island as it is today.

Two huge explosions, 25,000 and 15,000 years ago, destroy the central part of the volcano, which caves in and creates the current caldera of the volcano. Since then the volcano remains at rest. But the hot rocks, located a few kilometres in depth underneath the caldera and their hot gases, warm the seawater and the rainwater that circulates around the more shallow rocks and convert it into superheated liquid at temperatures approaching the 500 degrees Celsius. Intermittently, the superheated liquid ejects into the air the rocks that prevent it from reaching the surface, causing hydrothermal explosions and creating hydrothermal craters. Such explosions were recorded in Nisyros in historical times.

The center of the island is dominated by the caldera of Nisyros. Its diameter is about 4 kilometers, its ledge ranges in altitude between 250 and 600 meters, while its bottom is at 100 meters from the sea level. Its west-northwestern part is surrounded by the hills Mporiatikos, Nifios, Profitis Elias and Trapezina. Traces of 20 craters have been detected inside the caldera, 10 of which are well preserved and each one has its own name. The settlements of Emporios and Nikia offer a magnificent view of the caldera, and the view from Prophitis Elias in Nikia in particular will astonish you.

Stefanos is the largest and most impressive of the 10 craters and monopolizes the interest of visitors, as it seems to them that this is the “volcano”. It is one of the largest and best-preserved hydrothermal craters in the world, it has ellipsoid shape with its longer axis at 330 meters and the smaller at 260 meters, while its depth reaches 27 meters. We don’t know its exact age, like with most craters, but it is calculated that it can’t be more than 3,000 to 4,000 years old. Every visitor can follow a trail to reach the inside of the crater and admire the space and its unique steam activity up-close.

STEAM ACTIVITY ON CRATER STEFANOS:When the rainwater enters the inside of the crater, a few meters below its surface, it encounters temperatures above 100 degrees Celsius and starts to heat and turn into steam. The steam pressures the surface of the crater, causing small explosions and creating round funnels, the holes that exist in the crater. Along with the steam, other gases come out, such as hydrogen sulfide which produces the distinctive smell that prevails in the area.

Next to Stefanos lies a smaller crater, the small Stefanos. The two older distinguishable hydrothermal craters are the kaminakia, beneath Nikia. Each of them has a diameter of 150 meters. The rest hydrothermal craters are situated in the area of Lofos, across from the crater Stefanos. There you can find Logothetis, the oldest crater in the region, Polyvotis with a diameter of 300 on 150 meters, small Polyvotis, the outcome of the latest hydrothermal explosion in 1887, Alexander, Achilleas and Logothetis.

PALAIOKASTRO
Palaiokastro is the fortress of the ancient city of Nisyros and one of the best preserved in the Aegean area. The ancient city was built at least since the 8th century BC, above the modern settlement of Mandraki. The wall, as it survives today, dates back to the 4th century BC. Built on the brow and the slopes of the hill it led to the cliff from its west side, whilst from its north, it reached up to the rock where the medieval castle and the monastery of Panagia Spiliani lie today. The total length of the fort is very large. The wall and the cliff mark an area of approximately 130.000 m2, with total perimeter of almost 2 km, while the weight of some of the stones that make up the wall reaches 3.5 tons. The construction of the costly and strong fortifications could be attributed to the effort of the tyrant of Caria Mausolus and his successors, who for a short time (355-332 BC) had acquired control of Rhodes, Kos, and the neighbouring islands, to create a powerful defensive front in the region. The local volcanic black stone (basaltic andesite) was used for its construction. Palaiokastro is located in the village of Mandraki and the admission is free

PANAGIA SPILIANI
Built on tall rock at the Castle of Mandraki is the monastery of Panagia Spiliani. According to tradition, in 1400 AD a farmer discovered a small picture of the Virgin Mary, which he brought to the Church of Panagia Potamitissa. A few days later, the picture disappeared only to be found later in a cave at the top of a large rock. The inhabitants returned it to the church but the incident was repeated. For this reason it was decided to build the cave as a church and it was done so a few years later. Going up the 130 steps, the visitor arrives at the holy cave and sees the remarkable wooden altarpiece from 1725 AD. On the altarpiece, images of Jesus, Virgin Mary with the Holy Child and the Assumption of Virgin Mary and St. Charalambos are visible. The image of the Virgin Mary, padded by silver, is double-faced: on the back it features St. Nicholas and on the other side the Virgin Mary with the Holy Child, crafted with the style of the russian school. It is said that in Virgin Mary’s left hand lies the little picture that had been discovered in the 13th century AD. The picture is miraculous, and that is why on the 15th of August crowds of pilgrims visit the island.

GYALI
It consists of two hills that are joined together by a narrow isthmus. The southwestern part of the island is composed of thick layers of pumice, which are deposited there by two explosions after the formation of Nisyros. The first eruption left on shallow seas over 160 meters of thick layers of pumice, which the company LAVA Mining & Quarrying exploits since 1956. The second explosion leaves a layer of pumice stone 3-4 meters thick in Gyali while it also covers Nisyros with pumice stones that are almost a meter thick.

The northeastern part of the island is composed entirely of thick natural streams of glass (hence the name of the island), like the well-known obsidian and perlite.

BEACHES

Hohlaki, with its trademark black pebbles, is situated in Mandraki, right behind the rock of Panagia Spiliani. Following the coastal road, you will reach Agios Savas where you can swim and enjoy a drink or your food. Next to the fish village of Paloi lies the homonymous beach with sand and tamarix. After Paloi we encounter Lies, with its dark sand and pebbles. After Lies, a path leads to Pachia Ammos, which is considered the most beautiful beach of the island and is used for the last few years for free camping. The southern and western part of the island is dominated by formations of lava that fall abruptly towards the sea creating two small openings into Avlaki and Agia Irini. You can also find fantastic beaches on the island of Agios Antonios, next to Gyali and of course on Gyali itself.

HOT SPRINGS

Three are the most famous hot springs in Nisyros, the Loutra, 1,500 meters north of Mandraki, the Thermiani in Paloi and the Avlaki in Nikia.

The waters of the hot spring in Loutra exploit the Municipal Hot Spring of Mandraki since 1872. They are legendary for their therapeutic properties in rheumatism, arthritis, skin diseases and diseases of the circulatory system. The maximum temperature of the hot spring is 46 degrees.

The spring of Thermiani is well-known since ancient times. The inscription found on the ruins of the Roman baths which operated in the same area reinforces the view that the father of medicine Hippocrates, had picked out this spring of Nisyros as a thermal spring therapeutic centre. The period from 1895 until the early 1930s was the last period during which a healing centre in this region was operational, and it is the famous “Pantelidis Baths”. The old baths have been restored these days, but they do not work. The hot spring temperature is 33 degrees.

Another well-known hot spring is the one in the cove of Avlaki. Its waters were used for thermal treatments before the settlement was abandoned. The warm water gushes into the sea even to this day and its maximum temperature reaches 59 degrees.

MUSEUMS

VOLCANOLOGICAL MUSEUM
Located in the village of Nikia, it is the first and so far the only volcanological museum in Greece. The main areas of the Museum host the following thematic units: -Volcanic genesis and structure -Volcanic process and products –The volcanoes of Greece –The volcano of Nisyros and the other active volcanoes of Greece and Volcanoes-Environment-Human. The museum has an exhibition area, which includes all the rocks of Nisyros as well as rocks from other volcanoes and also, places to view informative material

ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
The museum is located in the centre of the village of Mandraki. Its exhibition is divided into sections that cover the whole history of the island, from the prehistoric to the post-Byzantine period.

FOLKLORE MUSEUM
The Folklore Museum of Nisyros is housed in a two-story 18th century mansion that has been restored by the municipality, on the steps to the Monastery of Panagia Spiliani in Mandraki. The rooms of the museum are shaped in such a way as to include all the rooms of a traditional Nisyrian house, like the oven, bakery and the bedroom (the so-called “moni”). The museum exhibits a variety of mostly utilitarian folk art objects which are not used today. Plows, sickles, basins, querns are some of the everyday objects used by the island’s inhabitants. There is also a large collection of embroideries, hand-woven textiles, assorted documents and photographs of the locals that played an important role in the history of the island. The bedroom, the so-called “moni”, is of particular interest. It was the place the whole family retired to in order to rest and included two repositories, the cellar and the glavani (hatch), where the Nisyrians used to store clothes, bed sheets and other miscellaneous items.

ECCLESIASTICAL MUSEUM
It presents exhibits from the Holy Monastery of Panagia Spiliani and the parish of Panagia Potamitissa of Mandraki. The exhibits include sacred religious relics, vestments from sacred temples, Holy Gospels, Holy Vessels, Sacred Images and gifts-objects of value as pledge (taximo) to the Monastery.

FESTIVALS

  1. Every Tuesday of Easter there is a festival at the Monastery of Panagia Evangelistria.
  2. Every 20th and 21st of June there is a traditional celebration in honour of Agios Nikitas, the patron saint of Nisyros, in the village of Mandraki.
  3. Every 30th of June, in the village Paloi there is a celebration in honour of the day of the Saints Apostles.
  4. Every 19-20th of July at Profitis Elias, in the village Nikia.
  5. Every 26-27th of July there is a festival during the celebration of Agios Panteleimonas at Avlaki.
  6. Every 14-15th of August the festival organized by the Holy Monastery of Panagia Spiliani in Mandraki has a turnout from all the Dodecanese Islands and is considered the most important event held in Nisyros.
  7. Every 14-15th of August a festival by the Holy Monastery of Panagia Kyra is organized.
  8. Every 22nd -23rd of August a festival by the Holy Monastery of Panagia Kyra is organized, in order to celebrate nine days since the Assumption of Virgin Mary.
  9. Every 8th of September the Birth of the Virgin Mary is celebrated in Emporios.
  10. Every 13-14th of September there is a festival at the Holy Monastery of Timios Stavros near Argos.
  11. Every 25-26th of September there is a festival for the celebration of Saint John the Theologian at the monastery near the village of Nikia.
  12. Every 7-8th of November, the village Emporios has a festival in honour of Archangel Michael.
  13. Every 21st of November there is a festival for the celebration of the Presentation of Virgin Mary at the village of Nikia.

SUGGESTED FOOTPATHS

Nisyros is a strong pole of attraction for thousands of visitors. Green, interspersed with historic monuments and stunning landscape transitions, it attracts hundreds of walkers and nature lovers. In addition to a network of vehicular roads, there are over 40 trails leading to every corner of the island. We will present the most important, and the ones that are easily accessible and distinct, and don’t require extensive experience.

PROFITIS ELIAS – NIFIOS
The path that leads to the highest peak of Nisyros (698 metres of altitude) is perhaps the most interesting. Up to the monastery of Evangelistria there is a vehicular road. The ascent starts from the monastery of Evangelistria and it will take approximately one hour of normal walking without stops to reach the top. The trail is walkable and easily visible at first, but you must take care not to miss it after 450-500 metres.

LAKKI – STEFANOS CRATER
If you continue from the previous path, and turn right from Nifios you will be directed to Lakki. Take the road for Stefanos and descend to the bottom of the crater. Listen to the murmur of the geothermal fluid as it climbs to the surface. Be careful not to touch the rocks and fluids because your clothing and backpacks will be destroyed very quickly. If you visit the crater during the rainy season, you will enjoy the sight of boiling mud. The largest part of the bottom of Stefanos turns into boiling mud.

EVANGELISTRIA – EMPORIOS – LAKKI
This path starts from the Evangelistria, and moves into the northern rim of the caldera. The trail ends at Emporios, a place worthy of a stroll for its distinctive architecture, the remains of the medieval castle and the Church of Taxiarchis.

TRADITIONAL FOOD & DRINK

In Nisyros you will find traditional recipes such as pithia (meatballs made of chickpeas), boukounies (pork cooked with grease), kapama (goat stuffed with rice) skordalia with almonds and salads dominated by capers. You should also try adramythozoumo.

The types of cheese in Nisyros are also very special, with first and foremost the mezithra, sakouliasti and trigias cheese (local cheese cooked in red wine).

For a desert the choices are many among the traditional sweets of Nisyros, like psilokouloura, xerotigana, diples, loukoumades, foinikia, kourabiedes, moustalevria, halva and spoon sweets (quince, bitter orange, cherry tomato).

Don’t forget to ask for pastelaries (opened figs, with almonds and sesame). The island has a tradition for beverages too, with more widespread being the soumada. You can also drink koukouzina (distilled from grapes or figs and has similar taste with the raki), and also sapsiho and rosemary.