Karpathos island is one of those
islands that have kept the same name since Homer's times, Karpathos has
references at Minoan and Mycenaean tombs as well as to many remains of
settlements in Greece from the second Millennium B.C. Karpathos located west
of Rhodes and is part of the Dodecanese. Karpathos with the most southern
Dodecanese island of Kasos, located on the sea way that connects Rhodes with
Crete. The two islands mark the south west limit of the Aegean sea.
Karpathos is unique in the Dodecanese islands for being the habitat of many rare species of flora and fauna. Many of these can be found in the dense forest in the central region of the island or around its rocky coastlines.
The capital of the island is the picturesque harbour town of Pigadia (or Karpathos). Pigadia is the Greek word for wells, given to the area because of the many wells and natural sources of water that were found here. To the side of Pigadia is a rocky hill where the Minoan acropolis of Karpathos was built in ancient times. This is quite different from the old capital, Aperi, which lies inland in the centre of the island, hidden from the sea, in order that the people of the coastal villages could find a refuge during the frequent attacks by pirates during the Middle Ages. The whole island boasts many pretty little villages of traditional balconied houses overflowing with flowers during Spring and Summer.
Of particular interest to visit is, the village of Menetes renowned for
its musical tradition. Many famous musicians hail from here and the
village still keeps up the traditional craft of producing the Karpathian
Lyre. Secondly, close to the Paleokastro (old castle) is the seaside
village of Arkasa. Very popular with tourists because of its quaint
charm, narrow streets and small river. Two kilometres north of Arkasa
lies the picturesque fishing village of Finiki. Finally, unique to
Karpathos, is the village of Olympos . Olympos houses have a special
traditional architecture, constructed with one room that is supported on
a wooden column situated in the middle of the house. Each house has a
beautiful balcony and the owner's initials can be seen carved over the
door. The women who live in these houses take great care in their
decoration, hanging beautiful embroideries and hand painted plates on
the walls. The main feast day of the island is on 15th August at
Olympos. This festival lasts for three days and includes traditional
songs, dancing and music with local instruments such as tsampirades
providing a unique experience found only in Karpathos.
Karpathos, like many islands in the region, has its fare share of ruins to see as well as museums, an outdoor exhibition of archeaelogical discoveries, and some very beautiful little churches decorated with mosaics and murals.