This most western of the Dodecanese
has had many names: Ichthyoessa (abundant in fish) in ancient times; Stampalia
or Astropalia, as the locals call it today. The name Astypalaia means "old city".
A mountainous island with an indented coastline concealing numerous
delightful coves, Astypalaia (or Astipalea) in fact resembles two islands joined
by a ribbon of land only 105 metres wide.
village is Hora or Astypalaia,
built up the side of a steep hill, and presided over by the massive, austere remains
of a Venetian castle. Its small, square houses. painted white with brightly coloured
doors and windows. follow the contours of the hill in an almost unbroken band
down to the sea. So closely are they packed that the walls of the uppermost houses
form part of the outer fortifications of the castle.
A row of windmills on the pass of the hill provides an additional
picturesque note. One enters the castle from the southwest side of the hill Inside
it are two churches, dedicated to St. George and to the Annunciation (Evangelismos).
The former contains a noteworthy carved iconostasis.
Below the castle stands the 18th century church of Our Lady Portaitissa,
one of the most beautiful in the Dodecanese
It too has an impressive iconostasis, covered with gold leaf. Livadia, Analipsi
and Vathi are charming fishing
hamlets on the south and north coast of the island, while among its many beaches,
Tria Marmara, Schinontas and Vathi stand out.