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THE THERMAL SPRINGS OF LOUTRA
Kythnos is famous for its thermal springs that have given to the island its second name, Thermia. The thermal springs of Loutra are in use since the Roman times, but they became widely famous after the doctors and chemists of king Otto of Greece ascertained their therapeutic facilities, in the middle of the 19th century. In fact, King Otto and his wife Amalia were frequent visitors in these springs.
Loutra has two springs: the spring of Agioi Anargyroi with saline waters whose temperature reach 38oC, and the spring of Kakavos with waters rich in iodine, bromium and sodium chloride whose temperature can reach 52oC. It has been proved that the waters of these springs help in the treatment of various diseases, like rheumatics, arthritis, sciatica and gynecological problems.
Chora, the capital of Kythnos, is a village of amazing beauty. Visitors will feel like standing in front of a painting, made by an artist who has presented the Cycladic beauty in the best way.
Constructed on the slopes of a hill and at a distance of 8 km from the port of Merihas, Chora is the largest village on the island and hosts the oldest church in Kythnos, the church of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity).
Walk along the narrow streets of Chora, discover secrets hidden in these picturesque paths that have remained intact since the 17th century, live surprises on every step, admire the white houses and experience the absolute calmness. Also take photos of the nice houses in Chora that are lightened by the Greek sun, attracting visitors with the blue-green window shutters and the flowered gardens.
Certainly, there is no need to get anxious or follow a certain route in Chora. Just follow your instinct and your mood, and they will lead you to the correct spot. After all, every spot in Chora is beautiful. In the shops of Chora, you shall find nice presents for you and your friends, like wooden carved items, religious icons or decorative shells to remind you of this small paradise.
MONASTERY OF PANAGIA NIKOUS IN CHORA
The Monastery of Panagia Nikous is located just outside Chora and has an intense historical and architectural interest. Apparently the monastery has been constructed on the ruins of an ancient temple. Its architecture is austere, following the typical style of the post-Byzantine churches in the Aegean islands. For more than 40 years (until 1833), an educational center was operating in this monastery, where local children but also children from entire Greece were studying. The teachers were important personalities, including the scholar men Parthenios Koulouris and Makarios Philippeos.
The name of the monastery possibly comes from the Byzantine church of Panagia Nikopios (meaning Virgin Mary who brings victories). It is said that the icon of the monastery was first transferred to Kythnos from Constantinople, and then it was taken to the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, where it is hosted till today. On August 15th, one of the most famous religious festivals (panigiri) of Kythnos is organized in this monastery. On the previous day, stuffed tomatoes and meat dishes are offered to visitors, according to the local custom.
CASTLE OF ORIA (KEFALOKASTRO)
The Castle of Oria is found on the northern side of the island, close to Cape Kefalos and between the hills Gialoudi and Sklavos. This Castle hosted the capital of Kythnos in the Byzantine times, as the elevated location and the natural fortification could offer protection to the inhabitants. Ruins from the castle walls and the residences survive till today, while out of the churches of the Castle that reached 100 in number, only 2 survive today: the church of Panagia Eleoussa and the church of Holy Trinity.
These two churches are not in good condition. Only some wall paintings and icons from the interior of the second church have survived until today. According to the tradition, the Castle fell to the enemies after betrayal and constituted a base of operations for pirates. Access to the Castle is possible by foot from Loutra or by jeep. Also worth to visit are the close beaches of Kakorema, Gialoudi, and Selino.
Merihas is the main port of Kythnos. This is the first scene of the island that visitors get as the ferry is approaching the port. Merihas is worth to visit for your afternoon coffee with a view to the lovely sunset. The two main roads of the island start from Merihas.
After Merihas is Episkopi, a lovely place with sandy beach and tamarisks almost reaching the sea.
Driopida is the second largest village in Kythnos. It is found on the southern side of the island, at a distance of 8 km from Chora. This village is also called Chorio and it is inhabited since the ancient times, keeping the same name. Driopida is one of the most picturesque villages in Kythnos and has a very interesting architectural style, as all houses have two storeys and red-tiled roofs, an unusual feature for the islands of Cyclades. The village has picturesque quarters with paved alleys, beautiful churches and various sights.
Galatas is one of the most picturesque quarters of the village, with many impressive churches. The most notable is the church of Agios Minas with a wooden-carved temple and a bishop throne, elaborate samples of folk art. The Folklore Museum of Kythnos is also found in Galatas.
Close to Galatas is Piazza, the central square and most central spot of Driopida. Piazza has many traditional coffee places (kafenia), where you can enjoy local homemade spoon sweets along with your coffee.
Other sights in Driopida are the old aqueduct of Dourakas, the Byzantine ecclesiastical museum and other historical churches, such as the church of Saint Panteleimon with the impressive stone bell tower and the church of Holy Trinity with interesting icons.
In Driopida, you will also find Cave Katafyki, one of the largest and most impressive caves in Greece, with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites formations. The cave was formed by an underground stream and it was used as a mine in the past. During World War II, this cave served as a hiding shelter for the residents of Driopida.
Many excursions are possible from Driopida as close beaches have intense beauty and unique character. Heading to the west, you shall meet Flabouria, a large beach with sand and thin pebbles, and the old church of Panagia Flabouriani dominating on the rocks above the bay.
If you continue to the southwest, you will find the beaches of Mavrianos, Trivlakas, Divlakas, and Stifo, as well as small secluded bays with crystal waters. The beaches in this region are nice and remote, away from crowds.
Kythnos is particularly famous for the pilgrimage to the church of Panagia Kanala. In this blessed location, the pine forest is harmonically combined with golden beaches, while from the picturesque coves visitors dive in the vastness of the Aegean Sea. The village took its name from the church of Panagia Kanala, the protector of the island. In this church, one of the most beautiful in the Cyclades, you can see the miracle-working icon of Panagia, which was found by fishermen in a canal as the tradition says. On the right side of the church, there is a beautiful beach with deep blue water. Behind this beach, there is a second smaller beach with blue-green water.
On the southern side of the island is Agios Dimitrios, the most faraway village from Chora. This is a picturesque village with traditional taverns along its sandy beach. Large tamarisks and rocky formations make this place very interesting, while in August white lilies grow on the sand.
From the village of Agios Dimitrios you can easily reach Petroussa and Alyki, two beaches with a wild, virgin landscape. With car or boat, you can visit the beaches of Simousi, Gaidouromantra, and Skylou, ideal places if you are looking for calm, sandy beaches.