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for destination: "MEGISTI (KASTELORIZO)
Information about the place (4)
The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites
An island in the E Mediterranean off the S coast of Lycia, mentioned
by Strabo (14.666). From the middle of the 4th c. B.C. on it was incorporated
in the Rhodian domain. Inscriptions speak of epistatai rhodi here. In the vicinity
of the mediaeval castle of the Knights of Rhodes there was probably also a fortification
in Classical times.
On the nearby upland called Palaiokastro, traces of a fortified settlement
with an internal wall are recognizable under the remains of mediaeval houses and
monasteries and the later church of the Panaghia. Remains include remnants of
a massive tower built of large rectangular blocks placed head to foot, and another
external wall with at least three towers, a few courses of which are left. The
fortification is of Hellenistic date and probably is the Pyrgos of which Strabo
speaks. Below the castle is a chambered tomb cut into the rock; it is rectangular,
with a platform around the interior perimeter and a Doric facade. The tomb dates
from the beginning of the 4th c. B.C. Numerous inscriptions from the island are
in the museum of Mytilene.
M. G. Picozzi, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites,
Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from
Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
Belying former grandeur the island of Megisti, as it is officially
known even from ancient times, derives its name from the Greek word meaning “largest”
because it happens to be the largest island in a picturesque cluster surrounding
it. The total area of this “polynesia” (island complex) is 11.9 square
kms. It is a mountainous and rocky island.
Little is known concerning the island's ancient history due to the
few written accounts referring to it and the fewer still systematic excavations
carried out on Kastellorizo. Neolithic tools, pre-historic walls, stone hewn tombs,
a gold crown from the Mycenaean period, Doric inscriptions and other findings
pay witness to the fact that the island has been inhabited continuously from very
The safe, natural harbour on the northwestern coast has always been
the island’s greatest geophysical gift, as it is unique in the large harbourless
surrounding area. Naturally, it once generated an important amount of economic
and nautical trade, standing as it does at the crossroads of Europe, Asia Minor
Today Kastelorizo has a population of 275 inhabitants. This is the
number that remained from the 15.000 that there were at the turn of the twentieth
century. The locals’ main activities are tourism and fishing.
The town has fine two and three storeyed buildings, built in accordance
with the local architecture. Above all, it provides the visitor with the beauty
of an idyllic landscape and the nostalgia of a past glory. The island’s
greekness is attested to by its buildings, by the simple “ageaopelagitiki”-Aegean
Sea look of the settlement, by the archaic character of the local dialect
and by the spirit of the inhabitants.
The sites to be seen on the island are indeed not few: Two fine examples
are the Palaiokastro -“Old Castle” which is situated approximately
in the middle of the island and once served as both the acropolis and older fortification
of the island, whilst the “Kastro”-Castle is found in the south eastern
part of the harbour and 200 metres above sea level. In the eastern part of the
harbour there is an impressive stone-hewed lyncean tomb. Both, of course, are
a part of the invaluable inheritance of the much turmoiled historical past of
Kastelorizo is dotted with numerous churches and monasteries. The
patron Saints of the island are St. Constantine and Helen to whom a church of
exceptional architecture is dedicated. It is a three-nave basilica and dates from
1835. Beside the church is the “Santrapia Urban School” which was
inaugurated in 1903 and built through the patronage of Louka Santrape. Especially
picturesque is the monastery
of St. George of the Mountain which has monks’ cells, cisterns and a
cave-catacomb with a well and a finely worked wooden iconostasis.
Extremely colourful are the Easter adoration and festive customs as
are the important feasts, rich in traditional customs. These are the feasts of
“Dekapentavgoustou” - Dormition of Our Lady, St. Paraskevi, the last
Monday before Lent, the First of May, Prophet Elias and of the patron saints of
the island Sts. Constantine and Helen.
(Text: Manolis Makris)
This text (extract) is cited February 2004 from the Dodekanissos
Union of Municipalities & Communities pamphlet.
Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)
Megiste (Megiste), an island off the coast of Lycia, opposite to Antiphellus.
It contained a town which, if the reading in Strabo (xiv. p. 666) be correct,
was called Cisthene (Kisthene), but had perished before the time of Pliny (v.
35). There was also an excellent harbour, which appears to have been capable of
containing a whole fleet. (Liv. xxxvii. 22; comp. Steph. B. s. v., who calls the
town Megiste; Ptol. v. 3. § 9; Scylax, p. 39.) The island, which derived its name
from the fact that it is the largest of a group, is now called Kasteloryzo, or
Castel Rosso. The island seems to have been colonised by the Rhodians, or at least
to have been in their possession, for inscriptions found there are composed in
the Doric dialect. There are but few remains of ancient buildings. (Leake, Asia
Minor, p. 184; Fellows, Lycia, pp. 187, &c.)
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD)