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Calypso’s Paradise: Gavdos, the Southernmost Greek Island

Europe’s southernmost point, Cape Trypiti on the Greek island of Gavdos. Credit: MiladA380/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-3.0

Gavdos is the southernmost of all the Greek islands, located to the south of its much larger neighbor, Crete.

The island is also home to what many believe is the southernmost point in all of Europe.

Continuously inhabited since the Neolithic times, Gavdos has played an interesting role throughout many periods of Greek history.

The history of Gavdos

Called Ogygia during antiquity, is also known as Calypso’s island, as this is where Odysseus resided with the witch of the same name in Homer’s Odyssey.

Archeological evidence shows that the Roman Empire also took an interest in the small island.

The Romans used up so much of the island’s natural resources that they permanently damaged its flora and fauna, something that can still be witnessed to this day.

Gavdos was also mentioned in the New Testament under the name of “Cauda.” In Chapter 27 of the Book of Acts, Paul, who was a prisoner on a Roman ship, mentions that they passed by the island.

During the Byzantine era, the island’s population swelled to 8,000 people. After the Ottomans took power and renamed Gavdos to “Gondzo,” its population fell to around 500 residents.

In the 1930s, communists and leftists were exiled to the remote island.

As the entire country began to urbanize in the middle of the 20th century, residents from Gavdos slowly moved to Crete, where there was more employment and educational opportunity.

Gavdos now a laid-back paradise

If you ever wondered why Odysseus stayed with Calypso for so many years, forgetting all about his homeland, then you have to visit Gavdos and witness its beauty with your own eyes.

Gavdos is a place to meet interesting people and forget about all the anxiety and conformity of everyday life.

The islet’s visitors will enjoy the small taverns and a semi-hippie lifestyle, but above all, the pure pleasures of the beaches of Ai Giannis and Sarakiniko.

Most tourists choose to stay on the beach of Sarakiniko because it is closer to the taverna and the mini-markets.

It is a dreamy, sandy beach with crystal-clear shallow waters, hidden behind a wild landscape of dunes and junipers.

On the other hand, Ai Giannis is a more secluded beach, where the nearest trace of civilization is just a fifteen-minute walk away.

Only a few residents live on the island throughout the year, and the infrastructure for tourists is very basic there.

According to the census of 2001, Gavdos has 98 permanent residents. In summer, the total population increases to 3,500, but most summer residents there are campers. There are several boats that make the daily trip from nearby Crete to Gavdos.

Gavdos is a fishing place, and although residents are few, they are warm-hearted and patiently await the better days of summer to see their island swarming with visitors.

Naturally, since the island is home to the southernmost point in Europe, Cape Trypiti, which is marked by a cement chair overlooking the sea, the island has a very warm climate.

In fact, the island is one of the sunniest places in all of Europe.


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