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the islands of the dodekanes

Dodekanes or Southern Sporades

The group of islands from the Turkish coast west towards Crete is called Dodekanes (Greek: dodeka = 12). Capital and administrative centre is Rhodes. The biggest and most famous islands besides Rhodes are Kos and Karpathos. Since antiquity Rhodes is a very important trade centre. In the early Middle Ages the Order of St. John dominated the region. At that time a lot of fortresses (Rhodes Historic Town) were built, which are even until today partly well preserved. In 1522 the knights of St. Johns had to surrender to the Turks and were ousted. Until 1912 the islands stayed under Turkish rule and administration. The Turkish occupation ended in 1912 after the Italian - Turkish war. Thereafter the islands were administrated by Italy until in 1947 they were handed over to Greece. In spite of centuries of Turkish reign the islands are purely Greek. Very little reminds of the Turkish reign, while on the other hand Italian architects left significant traces. Like most islands in the Aegean the Dodekan-islands are mainly bare and without vegetation. However Rhodes and Kos are fairly green, there are springs and they have a couple of forest areas. Smaller islands are supplied with water from Rhodes. In the following we introduce every Dodekan-island.

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rhodes

The most popular destination in Greece

Today Rhodes is the most popular Greek holiday destination. In the antiquity Rhodes was given many names (Rhodes, Stadia, Ophioussa, Makaria etc). The more than 70 km long east coast offers nearly everywhere beautiful sandy beaches and hidden scenic bays. More information on Rhodes you can find in the menu bar ‘Rhodes and surroundings’.

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2/13

kos

The birth place of Hippokrates

In former times Kos, the birth place of Hippokrates, was famous for its silk and local dresses. In the last years tourism has grown in importance. Especially at the well watered west coast the island is very fertile.  The east coast of Kos is mainly bare and the eastern part with its cliffs is virtually uninhabited. There is an airport available in Kos and during the season there is a direct connection to various towns in Germany. Meanwhile the island is along the sandy beaches well developed for tourism. In the town of Kos with its well worth seeing fortress you can find antique excavations, houses with Italian stylistic elements and a lively business and shopping centre. Kos has got one of the best Greek marinas, if not the best at all. About ¾ of a sea mile south east of Kos’ old harbour there is the new marina. Approach and entry are straightforward. 36° 53,84’ N  027° 17,94’ E. You register on channel 77. The moorage will be assigned. A rubber dinghy leads the oncoming yachts to the designated places.

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3/13

karpathos und kasos

The wild islands in the south west

These two islands are in rough waters between Rhodes and Crete. They are the most southern isles of the Dodekanes. Both islands are hilly and in some parts (Karpathos only at the west coast) fairly barren. At Karpathos there are nice, partly wooded bathing bays at the east coast. At the south coast there grow olive trees, citrus fruits and other fruit trees. Olympos is worth a trip. As the island is very craggy the journey times may be considerable. The best starting point for shore leave is the nice capital and port town Pigadia. Karpathos too has got an airport with direct connections to Germany.  In the south of Karpathos you will find usually small hotels, beautiful beaches and little tourism.

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4/13

patmos

The apocalypse-monastery, scenic Chora and a monastic-fortress

Patmos, the most northern and one of the most beautiful islands of the Dodekanes, is not very large but an area of outstanding natural beauty. Above the natural harbour of Skala, on the way to the picturesque Chora of Parmos there is the apocalypse-monastery with a small grotto, where the evangelist St John should have had his apocalyptic visions. The mighty monastic-fortress Agios Ioannis Theologos towers over the white houses of Chora. The pretty port-town Skala is the central starting point for many cruiser passengers and other tourists intending to visit St John’s monastery. At the quay in Skala you can moor the boat either bow side or stern side. Various other possibilities for anchoring you can find in the surroundings of Skala.

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5/13

arki, lipso und agathonisi

Tiny urban rocks

Arki, Lipso and Agathonisi are three small islands between the Turkish mainland and Patmos. The harbours in Porto Augusta (Arki) Ormos Sokoro (Lipso) Limin tou A. Georgiou (Agathonisi) are pretty small, but fairly secure. There are everywhere taverns and shopping facilities especially for good fish.

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leros

The gentle

Leros is separated from its southern sister isle Kalymnos by a narrow strait. The island is mainly green and wooded. There are deep bays, beautiful beaches, fruitful valleys and scenic white villages. The place named Platanos is the island’s charming capital with a fantastic view across the bays of Ormos Alintas and Pantelis. The big natural harbour of Lakki was at the times of Italian occupation the main base for the Italian Navy. In the bay there are marinas and anchorages. The small port near Pantelis is mostly crowded but there are enough secure moorings.

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kalymnos

The wildly cragged sponge divers’ island

Kalymnos, the island for sponge divers, is for most parts a cliffy bleak piece of rock. Since the antiquity the island was the heart of Greek sponge diving. There are many caves and a few nice beaches. Houses are often painted in various shades of blue. In 2002 the almost completed new Kalymnos Marina was nearly fully destroyed by an autumn gale. Meanwhile the new Marina is virtually accomplished and can be used in parts. More mooring places and anchorages you can find in Ormos Akti and Ormos Vathy.

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8/13

pserimos

Small and calm – when the day tourists have gone

Pserimos is a favoured destination for day trippers from Kos. Among the pretty white houses of the village you can find some taverns. After the pleasure boats have gone you can moor your yacht along the quay until next morning.

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9/13

nisyros

The Vulcan island

Nisyros is a calm and contemplative island. But when the pleasure boats from Kos are tied up it becomes more action packed. The island’s main attraction is a volcano crater. From the fringe of the crater you have got a spectacular view at the surrounding islands. The small capital Mandraki with its narrow alleys is worth visiting. Mooring in the harbour of Mandraki is not advisable. The harbour of Paloi (spoken Pali) is safer. The village and the small harbour are really picturesque. There is water and electricity in the harbour, nice pubs and other possibilities to supply.

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10/13

tilos

Formerly known as Episcopi

Located between Nisyros and Chalki, Tilos is quiet and contemplative too.  Only the port town of Livadia and the villages of Megalo Chorio and Eristos are inhabited. You can hardly imagine that in ancient times about 10.000 people should have lived on Tilos. Today it is just a few hundred. The terraced hill slopes were built by hard manual labour and are remains of better times. Most young men have turned their back to the island. Those having stayed live on a tourism that is completely different from the mass tourism on Rhodes or Kos.

 

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11/13

chalki und alimia

Just a stone’s throw away from Rhodes

Chalki and the meanwhile uninhibited Alimia are nothing more than a great mass of stones in the Aegean. There is nearly no vegetation on both islands. In winter time just about 50 people live on Chalki.  In summer the island flourishes. Many day trippers from Rhodes visit the port village Emborios. Lots of houses in the pretty small village were refurbished in the last years. The four-storied Campanile of St Nicholas church towers up between the houses’ facades like a landmark.

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12/13

symi

The scenic

Symi has got the most picturesque harbour, especially in the night when the illuminated houses at the steep slopes create an extraordinary gloaming atmosphere of light. The houses are painted blue, green, off-white or rose. In the day-time the day-trippers from Rhodes jam the few alleys. It will ease toward the evening when the pleasure boats have gone. Many yachtsmen call in at the wind sheltered bay. Another place to anchor is Ormos Panormitis in front of the cloister Panormiti. The small village of Pedi has got safe anchorages and two piers, too.

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astypalea

Off the beaten tracks and untroubled by tourism

Astypalea or Astiplaia lies about 35 seamiles west of Nysiros. When you approach the isle from north or south two mountain ranges connected by a long, small isthmus create an impression of two islands. Even in high season very few tourists lose their way to this remote island.  But on the other hand this sparse island, bare of trees and bushes. has got its very own charm. The harbour bay with its white painted houses down the slopes, crooked old town alleys, windmills on the ridge and the old fort with two white churches in its centre overlooking majestically the bowl-shaped bay, dominate the first impression when entering the harbour. The harbour is well protected but offers just a few moorings and decent facilities for supply. Along the harbours promenade you can find nice pubs with brilliant views at the whole bay.

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