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Anafi: A Greek Island Off the Beaten Path

Anafi Greek island
The view of “Chora,” a Greek island’s main town. Anafi Island, Greece. Credit:

Anafi is a small Cycladic island near Santorini without the fame and glamor of its neighbor, but it rewards visitors with its natural beauty, serenity, and warm hospitality.

Despite the hours-long ferry trip to get there, Anafi is a top destination for those in need of a serene holiday.

It is ideal for relaxation for those who prefer peace and quiet. You can lay in the golden sand of Roukounas beach and enjoy the sun and the crystal-clear, blue waters without the hustle and bustle of the more well-known islands in the Cyclades.

Big Roukouna one of the amazing beaches of Anafi island, Greece. Credit: Zde /Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

The center of the island, Chora, is full of white, cubic houses and chapels and is built on top of a mountain, offering visitors a breathtaking view of the Aegean Sea. The architecture and colors of Anafi are typical of the Cyclades.

cycladic architecture
Chora. Credit: Zde /Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

The view from Chora is much like the view from the Caldera in Santorini. What is really impressive, though, is the cleanliness of the narrow streets, the freshly painted houses, the quiet atmosphere, and the leisurely friendliness of the locals.

Going up the alleys, most of them end up in the ruins of the Venetian Castle, which was used as an observatory to the Cretan Sea throughout Antiquity while, today, there lies the church of Agios Georgios.

cycladic architecture
Chora. Credit: Zde /Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

It is recommended that visitors take a walk around the island or hire boats to visit the beaches, the most famous being Roukounas. Anafi possesses several nice restaurants and cafes where visitors can relax, enjoy local delicacies, have a drink, and admire the idyllic view.

Roukounas beach, Anafi, Greece. Credit: Little Routh/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Anafi has both archaeological and mythological interest. At the monastery of Panagia Kalamiotisa, ruins of a temple built as an offering to the god Apollo Aegletus can be seen.

According to mythology, the island was named Anafi because Apollo made it appear to the Argonauts as shelter from a bad storm, using his bow to shed light upon it (i.e. the island name, which is Ἀνάφη in Greek, is derived from the Greek word ἀνέφηνεν, literally meaning ’he made appear’). Others say that the name is due to the non-existence of snakes on the island, namely “an Ophis” (“without snakes”). However, one scholar (Burkert 1992) links this epithet to a Sumerian goddess of healing and to Apollo’s son Asclepius.



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