The Church of Panagia Portaitissa (“Keeper of the Gate”)
The church of Panagia Portaitissa constitutes the religious centre of the island and the most renowned and visited spot of worship. It started being built in 1762 by Saint Anthimos from Kefalonia, who, despite the fact that he was blind, had previously built the monasteries of Zoodochos Pigi at Sikinos and of Saint George in Kastellorizo. The construction of the church lasted for nine years. The church is dedicated to Panagia Portaitissa of the Holy Monastery of Iviron. A copy of the icon of Panagia Portaitissa of this monastery at Mount Athos was brought to Astypalaia by Saint Anthimos.
Archaeological Museum of Astypalaea
The Astypalaia Archaeological Museum is housed in a ground-floor hall, which was granted to the Hellenic Ministry of Culture by the Ecclesiastical Charity Fund of Astypalaia in 1994. The exhibition was organized in 1995-1996 and in the following years it was improved and enriched with the special audio-visual programme (Echorama). The museum was inaugurated in September 1998.
Infantile graveyard excavation
At the edge of Chora towards the southern part, at Kylindra, there is a big rescue excavation. The only infantile graveyard in the world was found here. A sacred place, from the Geometrical years to the Hellenistic age.Some thousands of infants buried in pots, in an outstanding archaeological and anthropological interest. Already, foreign and Greek archaeologists, as well as special scientists, are especially interested inthese unique findings so a special museum and research centre is needed on the island.
The Monastery of Panagia Flevariotissa is in the heart of Astypalaia’s inhabitants. They travel to the island for Her sake on winter at the feast of the Presentation of Christ ( February 2). The monastery of Panagia is a white church with auxiliary buildings around which were fully occupied in the past. Nowadays, they are being used during the feast of the Monastery.
Rock paintings in Vathy
Remarkable rock paintings were discovered in Vathy Bay dated 5000 years old. Based on the presence of other carvings, the assistant professor at the University of Ioannina, said that these paintings of 70cm length, depict oared ships, 3 of which have fish and other various drawings on their bows.
The Negro’s Grotto
In the Negro’s Grotto one can see beautiful and unique formations of stalactites and stalagmites. The cave is part of the tradition of the island as it is widely mentioned in the various myths about pirates and the treasures they were hiding in there. The best way to reach the cave is by following the dirt road that starts from the town of Chora. You should leave your car there and then, continue on foot until you reach the cave which is right on top of the hill. Alternatively, you can access the area where the cave is found by taking one of the little tourist boats that make trips around the island, starting from Pera Yalos – you can definitely ask for this if you are also interested in viewing the sea route.
Ancient stones and white churches recount their stories.